By Graham Lucas
After coming off a spring break tour in Maryland where they lost three straight games, men’s lacrosse has rebounded with a four game winning streak, remaining undefeated in the NCAC.
During their spring break tour, two of the three losses came from nationally ranked Salisbury University and Washington College. The team was 4-1 before the losses tarnished their record.
The Battling Bishops are 3-0 in North Coast Athletic Conference matchups with four conference contests left on their schedule. The team’s main rival, Denison University, is also 3-0 and ranked 13th nationally for Division III lacrosse.
Junior Casey Helms leads the NCAC in points. He said the team will have to “play to the best of (its) ability” to win the last four conference games, which are crucial to getting to the postseason.
“In order to win our last four NCAC games, we are going to have to play to the best of our ability,” he said. “As of right now, we are 3-0 in conference and have tough games ahead of us. Every team wants to knock off the undefeated team, so all of our opponents will, without a doubt, show up to play.”
“When we play to our capability and everyone is on the same page, we can run with any team in the country. We are a dangerous team that makes smart decisions and plays tough. As long as we do this, we will be successful.”
The Bishops have played a total of 12 games, accumulating 163 goals and 99 assists, both best in the conference. Sophomore attacker John Umbach has scored 13 goals in the team’s last four wins despite having only five goals in the first eight games. Umbach said his job gets easier when the offense runs smoothly
“In general, we want to create scoring opportunities by dodging the defense and moving the ball,” he said. “The offense has been doing a great job creating opportunities and stretching the defense out which allows me to get open inside. We do whatever it takes to score.”
The Bishops will have extra support in their last four conference games with the return of sophomore attacker Tommy Minkler who tore his ACL, MCL and part of his meniscus during fall practice. As a freshman last season, Minkler tallied 24 goals and 22 assist in 16 starts. Minkler said he is willing to do anything to help his team win.
“It definitely feels good to be able to help out the team on the field again” he said. “It will take me a little while to get back to one hundred percent, so right now my role is to push the starters to get better. These next four games are crucial for us, and at this point I just want to do whatever I can to help us win the NCAC championship and make a run in the NCAA tournament.”
As the Bishops close in on their last four potentially conference-winning games, Helms said the team’s only goal is to win a national championship.
“We have a great group of guys, all of which bring something to the table,” he said. “We all have roles on the team that we are aware of and this is what makes us so close on and off of the field. Everybody holds themselves accountable day-in-and-day-out because we all play for each other.”