RICHMOND, Ind. – The announcement was made on April 8, 2016, and though it may not seem like it, a lot has happened since then.
A coach was hired. Equipment – a lot of it – was purchased. A team was assembled.
But after nearly two years of anticipation, Earlham men's lacrosse will take the field this weekend for the first game in program history when it hosts Fontbonne University on Saturday afternoon at Darrell Beane Stadium.
The Quakers will take the field with 19 players, 15 of whom will be playing in their first organized men's lacrosse contest. While the experience may be lacking, the enthusiasm and anticipation is not.
"We have 15 guys who, until game time, have only 60 hours of lacrosse in their entire life, and that's really not that much time. But the energy, the intensity, the 'want' to get better out of those guys has been phenomenal," said Jason Grace, Earlham head men's lacrosse coach.
"Obviously we expect to win, and I think we will have a good showing in this game," said Grace. "College lacrosse is new to all of them and they're asking the right questions. They're not looking at this as an activity; they're looking at this as another avenue to compete. They want to be successful."
Grace likes his team's athleticism, which could help balance out the squad's overall lack of game experience by allowing them more easily recover from miscues. Team leadership has been abundant, with players being both vocal and instructional as they've been developing as a group. Stick skills have improved over the course of preseason practice, but there is still a long way to go said Grace, and further development will occur quicker in the game environment.
"I think the one plus for us is there's no pressure," said Grace. "Why should we have pressure when we're a start-up program? We're not supposed to win... we're not supposed to do well... so I think the pressure is on everybody else we're going to play this year."
AT A GLANCE
SATURDAY'S GAME: Men's lacrosse will be making its formal debut on the Earlham College campus as the Quakers host Fontbonne University from St. Louis, Mo.
DATE: Saturday, March 3, 2018
PLACE: Darrell Beane Stadium
ADMISSION: Free admission
THE TEAMS: Earlham's first varsity intercollegiate lacrosse game means an afternoon of firsts for the Quakers. Meanwhile, Fontbonne comes into Saturday's game looking for its first win of the 2018 season, after dropping contests to Saint Mary (Kan.), 20-9, and the University of Dallas, 17-8, earlier this season.
SCOUTING FONTBONNE: Brian Nguyen leads Fontbonne offensively with 11 goals and nine assists for 20 points, while Michael Picciolo had logged six goals and six assists this season, with two of the goals coming in man-up situations. Picciolo is also the Griffins' ground balls leader with 46 GBs. Collin Lee has 14 caused turnovers for the Griffins this season. Nick Fresta has been taking the majority of the faceoffs for Fontbonne, winning 45 of 199 faceoffs thus far in 2018. Fontbonne is a program still reeling from tragedy in the fall with the death of sophomore teammate Berlin Cole. Cole was second on the team in scoring last season as a freshman with eight goals in 11 games.