For those of you who do not know, I spent my college years at Saint Joseph’s University in West Philadelphia. I really enjoyed my time there, and despite the fact my grades were pretty average, I learned a lot.
While there, I tried out for the men’s lacrosse team. I never played lacrosse before, but when the coach saw I ran track and cross-country and said the lacrosse talent will come. Like my grades, I was an average player, but most of my teammates knew I worked hard to do the grunt work. Scooping ground balls, body checking opponents, etc.
When I played at SJU, the team was just a club sport, but a few years after I graduated, the team went to Division I. They were always competitive, but this year, for the first time ever, they made it to the Division I Lacrosse Tournament.
Saint Joseph’s brought it in their NCAA Tournament debut. But they ran into a Yale team that, despite the fact about 85% of the roster was making its first appearance in the Dance, was able to make just a few more plays (some owing to experience, maybe?) that allowed the Bulldogs to pull out an 18-16 win at Reese Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Yale was ranked fourth in the nation, and Saint Joe’s was ranked 19th. To be honest, I expected the Hawks would get trounced by Yale, but to my great surprise they ran with one of the best teams in the country.
“I felt like our guys were ready to go today,” Saint Joseph’s coach Taylor Wray told IL postgame. “They were not intimidated by the moment. They were not nervous about being in the NCAA Tournament because they let it all hang out and showed the lacrosse world what Saint Joe’s is capable of doing.”
At the start of the game – it was on ESPNU – I would click it on, check the score, and turn it off. I assumed my watching it would have jinxed them. Every time I glanced at the game, the Hawks were within one of two goals. I watched the entire second half, and while SJU lost, they fought and hustled to the end.
“I was impressed with St. Joe’s,” Yale coach Andy Shay told IL postgame. “I didn’t know what to think going in. It’s amazing to watch teams on film. If you watch a team on film that you know, you know what they feel like — that’s one thing. You watch a team on film that you’ve never seen before, you get out there and it’s like — some of those dudes are a handful.”
I have never been more proud of this team, and it makes me happy that I was able to make a (rather insignificant) mark on this team. The program has come a long way.