By Kirti Chakote
Coming off its most impressive season to date, where it reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament, the Union Men’s Lacrosse team (5-4 overall, 0-2 conference) is currently battling an up and down season in hopes to return to its true form. The Dutchmen started off with a 3-1 record but has since slightly cooled off, winning half of their four past games.
Union headed into the past weekend looking for a key win against conference opponent, Clarkson (7-3 overall, 2-1 conference).
Leading the way this season are senior captains, midfielder Alex Stone, midfielder Kyle Christine, midfielder Joe Cordrey, and attack Nolan Connors.
Last season, Stone was named Honorable Mention Short Stick Specialist and had one of the highest faceoff percentages in the country (21st) at .641, Christine received the Junior Scholar Athlete of the Year Award, and Connors led the team with a .722 shot percentage.
Other key returners this season are attack Rob Santangelo ‘14, who was unanimous First Team Liberty League Attack, and midfielder Nate Greenberg ‘14, who was the third leading scorer last season with 18 goals.
Sophomore goalie Stefan Basile was recently named to the Liberty League Honor Roll.
Behind these leaders, out of a roster of 40 players, there are 25 underclassmen. As usual, Coach Wehrum had a strong recruiting class with 15 freshmen from top high school programs in the country.
Although the underclassman are very talented as well, these captains and other upperclassmen still play significant leadership roles.
“Behind our talented starting 10, we have another group of really skilled players,” said Christine. “Everyone knows that playing time is very competitive, so players have to make sure they are at their best if they want to stay on the field.”
Unfortunately, this talented group of players was not able to pull out an important conference victory and suffered a tough loss against Clarkson on Saturday.
The Dutchmen got off to a solid start, as Cordrey scored on a rush to the net at 10:46, and midfielder Greg Mooney ‘14 answered with a goal on Union’s next possession to put the home team up 2-0.
Clarkson answered with two goals in the rest of the first quarter.
Union went on a three-goal run to open the second quarter as Santangelo scored his second of the season from in close at 12:49. Greenberg notched a man-up goal with a shot on the move into the top corner a few minutes later.
Midfielder Jonathan Andrews ‘14 scored off a feed from Mooney at 5:59 to give Union its biggest lead of the game at 5-2.
But Clarkson again responded with a two goal run for a 5-4 score to end the half.
Early in the second half, the Golden Knights tied the game. Greenberg answered with Union’s lone goal in the second half at 5:44, but the opposing team responded once again. In the fourth quarter it was all Clarkson; they scored two goals to win the game 8-6.
“If you look at our two conference games, we have suffered really close losses,” said Christine. “We play well for most of the game, but make certain key mistakes that cost us the win. In practice, we have to work harder and learn to put a full game together and close out during the final stretch. If we do this, by May we will be playing our best ball, which is when we usually do.”
Union will look to improve in its upcoming game against Williams College (3-5 overall, 2-4 conference) this Wednesday in Williamstown, Mass. Followed by a Saturday afternoon match-up against RPI in Troy, NY.
They are hoping to build momentum for the second half of the season and carry it into the playoffs to hopefully rewrite the record books for the Union Men’s Lacrosse program.