NAU club lacrosse returns from hiatus with win in home opener
BY VINCENT PENA —
After a two-year hiatus, the Northern Arizona University men’s (NAU) club lacrosse team returned to action this year and is off to a solid start.
The Lumberjacks hosted the Fort Lewis College Skyhawks this past Sunday, at the South Field Recreation Complex and came away victorious in an exciting 9–8 overtime win.
After falling behind early 3–0, the Lumberjacks responded with four goals in the second quarter to head into halftime up 4–3. In the second half, the Skyhawks opened up the scoring with two consecutive goals, but the Lumberjacks, who scored two straight of their own to retake the lead, matched them.
An 8–8 tie at the end of regulation forced the game into overtime, where NAU scored first and won their second straight game to start the season 2–0.
Head coach Nick Adler said he thought his team did fairly well in their first home match of the season.
“Overall it was a good performance, considering it was only the second game of the season. There’s still a few things to work on, but overall the guys are looking good,” Adler said.
NAU freshman attacker Davis Pataky led all scorers for the Lumberjacks with three goals in only the second collegiate game of his young career. He also added an assist for a team-high four points.
Pataky has already tallied seven goals, including four in the season opener against the University of New Mexico on Feb. 24. The Lumberjacks traveled to Albuquerque and defeated the Division I Lobos by a score of 11–6 to start the season.
Senior goalie Charles Herald also stepped up for the Lumberjacks, recording 26 saves for a save percentage of .765 in the win against the Skyhawks.
Adler is new to the team and has only been at the helm for a little over a month. He previously coached at the high school level in Flagstaff for about four years, before being asked to coach NAU’s team.
He has high expectations for this year’s squad, and said they should finish in the top three or four in their division.
NAU is a member of the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA), a non-NCAA college lacrosse league consisting of over 200 colleges nationwide. The teams are divided into two divisions and compete in one of ten conferences.
The Lumberjacks belong to the Southwestern Lacrosse Conference (SLC), which consists of teams from Arizona and Southern California. They are in the North Division and compete against schools such as Pepperdine, Biola, Occidental, California Lutheran, Cal State Channel-Islands and Marymount College.
The team was founded in 2005 by former player and coach Terry Elliot and competed in the RMLC for several years, but never finished a season with a winning record. The team was formerly coached by Ryan Hanavan, a faculty member of the Forestry Department at NAU. However after taking over the team, he was transferred to Maine and left the team them without a coach, forcing them to take a couple years off.
Adler noted the struggles in trying to get the team back together.
“The guys have been trying to get enough players out there, but because it is club, they have to pay to play, so getting enough players with enough money to pay for all the travel costs and everything — it’s been a deterrent to trying to put the team together,” Adler said. “The guys all ponied up pretty close to $1500 a piece this year to make sure that this team was going and so we could get back in the SLC and start playing.”
NAU has almost a month off before it hosts Division I opponent, UA, at the South Fields on March 30. The Lumberjacks will look for their second consecutive win against a Division I opponent and their first win over the Wildcats in team history.
“[Winning] against a Division I like UA it would mean the world to this team, considering UA has had a team going on for quite some time, and for us we more or less put this team together the past two years . . . ” Adler said. “I mean it would be huge for these guys. Because of the size and history of UA, if we could knock them off, it would be big for us.”
After the UA game, the Lumberjacks begin division play with a double-header on April 6 against Occidental and Marymount College.