By Xander Swain
Finishing the regular season as the number one seed in their conference and undefeated in their conference, the Montevallo men’s lacrosse team has proved to be a dominating force on the field. As they enter the conference post-season, they are set up to finish strong.
With eight wins and four losses during the regular season, head coach Jason Lange said, “The season has gone well. We scheduled a very tough out of conference schedule against some of the best teams in the country. I believe it has paid off.”
At the beginning of the season, the men’s team put up a fight against Belmont Abbey College, Westminster College, and Wingate University – all historically impressive programs.
Despite the early losses to these teams, they came back to go on a seven-game win streak, the longest in program history. Now, they look to host University of Alabama in Huntsville in the Peach Belt Conference championship on May 1. The Montevallo Falcons have already beat UAH twice in the regular season.
Looking to the past season and the effects of COVID-19, Lange said, “We have to be diligent in wearing our masks…Our mindset has been to be able to change and adapt at a moment’s notice. Our guys have been embracing that mindset and it has led to our success.”
According to Lange, what makes this year different, however, is the leadership within the team. Lange said, “We have seniors for the first time. Those guys have been through a lot. Ups and downs in their four years. Their experience has helped guide us.”
Being one of the team leaders, Thomas Vaesen said, “We’ve got a special group of guys, and everyone realizes the opportunity we’re presented with this year, so we had a lot of guys step up and keep one another accountable.”
Kyle Little, another team leader said, “Like many of the upperclassmen in our program, we have reciprocated what the CDC, coaches, and athletic trainer has sadi to us regarding how to approach and prevent COVID-19. As a leader it is important to remind the team of the rules and regulations that have kept us safe this entire season.”
Seniors like Little and Vaesen have stepped up and led the team. Little is currently number four in the country for save percentage at 61 percent, while Vaesen is in the top ten players in the NCAA for goals per game at 3.5.
Both Little and Vaesen were part of the beginning of the men’s lacrosse program. For Vaesen, being part of the inaugural season meant he had the opportunity to “build lifelong relationships.”
Vaesen said, “I remember Coach Lange telling us in the programs first year that if we buy into the process, we will win a conference championship in our time here. And it seems as though we have an incredible chance this year.”
Getting to and winning the conference championship would mean a tremendous ending for Little and Vaesen before they graduate. When Vaesen graduates this semester he said, “I hope to leave behind the sense of family I feel we have built throughout the past four years. We are a very close and dedicated group of men, and I hope that never changes as that is what has made my time at Montevallo so special.”
Little shares a similar sentiment when he said he wants to leave “a culture that believes in what we are trying to accomplish.” He continued, “[Which is] a program that develops young men into better individuals and better equipped to handle life after graduation.”
Winning their semifinal against Shorter University 20-4, the Falcons keep their undefeated PBC record as they head into the conference championship. The championship will be against the University of Alabama in Huntsville on May 1.