BUENA VISTA, Va.—The Southern Virginia University men's lacrosse team is hopeful for a great start under first-year head coach Jason Lamb, who has his team preparing for a difficult slate both out of conference and within the Capital Athletic Conference.
Ready to face some of the top NCAA Division III lacrosse teams in the country, the Knights look to be competitive and make a name for themselves against some of the nation's best lacrosse players.
To view the 2014 CAC Men's Lacrosse Preseason Webcast, visit the CAC YouTube page.
Lamb shares a preseason outlook for this year's team:
What are your goals and expectations for this team?
My goals and expectations for this year's team are probably going to be a season of growth centered around some of the more less-obvious answers. We're not going to be a team that is going to stare at the wins and losses as much. It's going to be a season of establishing some of the correct cultures and traditions within a program that is just getting going in the NCAA. It's going to be a few of those kinds of ambitions and measuring marks.
To be candid, we are going to play competitively. That may not be in terms of wins and losses but we're going to be a team that competes for 60 minutes. We're going to play good team defense. We may not have the same amount of players or as much skill as our opponents, but we can certainly play good defense. We're going to be fundamentally sound and try to not be the team that shoots itself in the foot. Those are the three things we're talking about in practice with some regularity.
This is your first year as Southern Virginia men's lacrosse coach. Who are your key returners from last year and who do you look to as your leaders so far?
We have a defensive captain, Marcel Blake, who is returning and is a tremendous asset to us. He is a leader and a take-charge guy, so he'll be a key anchor for us on defense. A couple other players who are returning that have been in the program for a few years are Joshua Neilson, Garrett Maw, and Ben Tillotson. They are heavily involved in what we are trying to establish here and have played in seasons past. We're going to rely on them a lot to lead the younger guys.
Who are your key newcomers?
The whole rest of the team is the key newcomers. We've got a lot of additions to the program, but some of the players we picked up are going to be expected to help us out right away. We've just recently added a few returned missionaries in Nash Wilkey and Mike Bangerter from Lone Peak High School in Utah. They just entered the program this semester. They're going to be great additions because they're a little bit older, wiser, more mature, have the right work ethic and they're going to kind of have to be the lead guys in helping us get through the season. My son, Jacob, is going to be a good addition to the program as an early graduate from high school who can help us out in our midfield.
What are your thoughts on the schedule, both out of conference and in the CAC?
It's one of the bragging points when I'm talking to recruits and all the players we're trying to attract to come to Southern Virginia. The schedule is a big piece of why someone would want to play lacrosse here. I love that we are now members of the CAC - it's a very prestigious and competitive lacrosse conference, one of the premier leagues in all of Division III.
We're not ready for it – at least right now - but it is part of what we're excited about to know that's where we're growing toward as a program. If not right away, we are going to be a competitive CAC foe for the other teams. Our non-conference schedule fits who we are. There are some opportunities for us to compete on a more equal basis, so I look forward to the beginning of our season.
How is the team's training and conditioning coming along so far?
Our training and conditioning so far is going very well. I feel since I am new to the campus am learning the ins and outs of what facilities you can use and how to deal with the weather and our fields. The outdoor fields are great and we're getting through some renovations up there. Access and lights are still being worked on, but all things considered we've done a great job as a coaching staff getting the players geared up and physically a little more prepared.
Ryan Foster, our strength and conditioning coach, is doing a great job in the weight room so I feel that we're doing as much as we can to get them physically prepared. Without having a full indoor practice facility and with the weather we've only been out on the turf a couple of times, but we've made good use of our facilities.