With spring athletics coming around the corner, the Montevallo Men’s Lacrosse team is as ready as ever to prove themselves on the field.
Their previous season cut off due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ended 3-4.
Now the team is headed into not only a new season but a new conference. Among other sports at Montevallo, the Men’s Lacrosse team transitioned into the Peace Belt Conference (PBC).
“We are very excited to be a part of this new conference,” said head coach, Jason Lange. “It fits our geographic footprint, our student-athletes will be spending less time on a bus, and we are able to develop new relationships and rivalries with closer out of conference games.”
“Conference play will look a little different this season with only four teams competing in the PBC this year,” he continued. “Next year [spring of 2022], we will grow to six teams, with the addition of Flagler and Young Harris.”
With the abrupt ending of last year’s season, many teams at Montevallo had to make quick goodbyes to their senior class.
However, the men’s lacrosse team was fortunate enough to have zero graduating seniors and was able to look towards the next season while maintaining their roster.
Having the largest senior class combined with the events of last season, Lange said, “Our players realize the importance of taking things for granted and know they need to make the most out of every day.”
Lange continues, “All of our older guys have done a great job this year. From helping the new guys adjust to life away from home, as well as navigating COVID. I’m expecting their leadership to help us have our best season to date.”
The new season not only brings the excitement of a new conference but a new Assistant Coach as well. The program has brought in Sam Horning to act as the new assistant coach.
He previously spent time at Colorado College, where he helped coach the offense. During his time as a student-athlete, he played lacrosse for Wheeling Jesuit University. He transferred and continued to play at the University of Indianapolis, where he helped the school win their first conference championship.
The players have taken well to Horning, according to the head coach.
“I’m thankful for our older guys for setting a standard and accepting Coach Horning with open arms…He and I have very similar viewpoints on philosophy and how the game should be played. I’m excited to see us play against someone else,” Lange said.
He has proved to be a vital addition to the program by helping navigate the pre-season and the numerous challenges of COVID.
From limiting recruitment to spending less time in the weight room, the team has had to overcome many challenges while trying to stay safe during the pandemic.
“We are always talking to [the team] about the importance of being careful of what you’re doing outside of practice. Making sure that they are wearing their masks and practicing social distancing,” said Lange.
The COVID pandemic poses challenges not only off the field, but on it as well.
The exhibition match planned for Jan. 30 at Birmingham-Southern will be a unique challenge, due to COVID. All four schools and administrations are trying to ensure that the teams maintain proper testing guidelines to keep the match on schedule.
For the upcoming season itself, however, the Montevallo players to keep an eye on are Thomas Vaesen, Dylan Witt and Kyle Little.
The three athletes are leaders in the program, with Vaesen leading the program with 126 goals, 32 assists for 158 points through 2.5 seasons. Witt is the current program leader in turnovers, and Little leads the program in all goalie categories. Little is also a two-time Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) goalkeeper of the year for his freshman and sophomore seasons.
“We’re very excited for the upcoming season. We hope that everyone on campus can stay safe and healthy and that athletics at UM can bring back a sense of normalcy to campus,” said Lange
Xander Swain is the copy editor for The Alabamian. He is majoring in political science, environmental studies, and sociology and wants to eventually obtain a Ph.D. in sociology. He enjoys cooking for his friends, listening to music and taking long walks on the beach.