By Mary Patalita
Special to GoHolyCross.com
The men's lacrosse Class of 2017 has played an active role in the team reaching many program firsts as well as recording the most Patriot League wins during a four-year span in program history. This Saturday, April 15 the Holy Cross men's lacrosse team will honor its 11 seniors as it takes on Colgate at 12:05 p.m., in a big Patriot League game. This year, the team is off to its best start to a Patriot League season ever. As the seniors prepare for their last regular season game at Kuzniewski Field at the Luth Athletic Complex, they are sure to have left their mark on the program.
During the 2015 season, the Crusaders defeated ranked teams for the first time, leading to their first-ever national ranking (No. 19). Holy Cross defeated both No. 8 Loyola Maryland and No. 9 Army West Point for the first time in school history. During their junior season, Holy Cross qualified for the Patriot League Tournament for the first time ever.
The seniors' successes have continued this year in their final season as Crusaders, as they defeated Bucknell and Lehigh for the first time in program history. Their achievements on and off the field can be attributed to their hard work, dedication and care for one another and for the program.
Head coach Judd Lattimore recognizes how special this group has been to the program. “This year's senior class has made a major impact on our program on and off the field,” said Lattimore. “Not only have they led our team to our most Patriot League victories over a four-year span and continue to reach many firsts for our program, they have just as importantly been great community leaders. What they have done off the field, especially as Big Brothers, shows how much they live by our motto of being men for others.”
The class unanimously agrees that of their several monumental wins, the most memorable win of their career was defeating Boston University at home in 2016 to clinch their first berth into the conference tournament in team history. “We had a packed and loud crowd,” said Sean Kirkpatrick. “It was great seeing my fellow classmates celebrate on the field with us after the game.” Jon Vogel added, “It was also senior night, and the field dedication to Father K, who was an extremely important part of our four years here. Seeing all the support from the school and being able to beat our in-state rivals under the lights was something I'll never forget.”
Despite taking the program to new heights, the senior class has also encountered some valleys that have made their peaks that much better. “Something that has contributed to our success is our competitive nature,” said Tim O'Brien. “Whether it be on the field or in the dorm playing video games, we have been constantly competing and getting better.” With some tough losses too, the team learned to bounce back. “We have stuck together through some tough stretches of seasons, and it has made us a tight knit group,” added O'Brien. This class has overcome adversity and setbacks that have bonded them together.
Along with competition, their energy makes this senior class special. “As a senior class, we bring the energy everyday and find ways to make practice fun for everyone,” said Marc Buermann. “Even when times are tough, there's always someone there for you to help. As a class, we have realized we have the opportunity to do something special as a team, and that is why we try to bring the energy everyday to practice.”
Another attribute that has propelled these seniors to new program heights during their four years is their individual uniqueness that works in unison to accomplish a shared mission. “We are an exceptionally eclectic class, in that each guy brings something different to the table whether that be in their approach to matters on or off the field,” said Vogel. “Each different point of view has allowed us to handle adversity extremely well, come together and focus on moving the program in the right direction thus contributing to our success.”
Relying on each other for different aspects of the game, the seniors' experience is something that is a key part of their success. “As a group we have a lot of experience, poise and composure,” said Liam Driscoll. “I think it's important that we play for each other and work hard everyday. Everyday we are focused on getting better. That is how we lead the team by encouraging the younger guys to get better and show them that we are the first ones at practice and the last ones to leave.” Teammate Brendan McGonigle agrees that the senior class' dedication to practice every day is something unique. “Our success as a whole can be contributed to great leadership and a desire to win,” said McGonigle. “It starts with guys like Liam, Mike and Sean bringing the energy and passion to practice everyday when you may not be up for it completely. That, along with focusing on our long term goals has allowed us to succeed.”
Leaving their mark on the program, the seniors will also take with them lessons they have learned from competing and being a member of the men's lacrosse team. “Playing lacrosse at a place like Holy Cross has taught me to be a man of Holy Cross, that is to be a man for others,” said Jack McGovern. “I will also use the cornerstones of our team: integrity, selflessness and discipline in my life after Holy Cross.”
The lessons they learned while playing on Kuzniewski Field and the friendships they have made are what make it so hard to graduate. “As a part of the Holy Cross men's lacrosse team you are a part of something more, a family,” said Parker Greiwe. “The friendships I have made over the last four years are bonds that I will cherish forever.” Similarly Kevin Lux agrees with Greiwe, “I will miss going out to practice everyday, competing and working with the same 43 guys towards a common goal.”
Being a student-athlete at Holy Cross, the friendships extend past the field. “I will miss the sense of community that Holy Cross has,” said McGonigle. “Whether it is in lacrosse, academics, socially or in other areas, there really is a sense of pride that comes with attending Holy Cross.” Michael Urquhart added, “I will miss the team meals, the camaraderie and competition that comes with playing.”
As their time on the lacrosse field and in the classroom is winding down, the seniors wish that the success they have had continues in years to come. “I will miss the time spent with all 43 other guys on and off the field,” said Jack Ortlieb. “The bonds I formed here on the hill are second to none. I look forward to joining the HC Alumni Network to help students just like they helped me.”
With just two regular season games left, the seniors are hopeful for the future of the program. However, they are not done just yet. They look to accomplish their ultimate goal this year and continue with program firsts to become the first team in Holy Cross men's lacrosse history to win a Patriot League title. No matter what is yet to come for the team this year, the Class of 2017 has surely already left its mark.
- The Team Shop will be open on Saturday, April 15! So be sure to check out all of your favorite Crusader gear at the game! The Dogfather Truck of Worcester will also be selling concessions on Saturday!
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