SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – A new collegiate team faces many challenges during its inaugural season. The men’s lacrosse team at Lawrence Technological University handled many of those challenges well and did better than expected by finishing with an overall record of 3-6.
Men’s lacrosse is the latest team to be added to LTU’s athletic program following its admission into the National Associate of Intercollegiate Athletics. The women’s lacrosse program will start in spring 2014.
“There were several challenges to overcome – finding practice locations for players with demanding schedules, teaching the new players the game of lacrosse, and getting my coaching style to reach the players so they understand the offensive and defensive schemes,” said LTU Head Coach Kevin Riley.
For the most part, the Blue Devils’ performance on the field met Riley’s expectations. “We were picked to not win a game this season but we won three,” he said. “I believe we had the opportunity to win two more.”
One of those victories was the first game of the season when the visiting Blue Devils defeated Carnegie Mellon University in overtime, 8-7.
Riley gave a lot of credit for the team’s performance to the leadership of the offensive captain, junior Bryan Burnham (Rochester Hills), and the defensive captain, sophomore Zach Matelic (Grand Rapids).
He also cited the improved performance of junior attacker Justin Killewald (St. Clair) and sophomore midfielder Justin Clark (Chesterfield Twp.). Killewald and Clark finished among the leaders in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference rankings, along with freshman goalie Adam Gohl (Clarkston).
Gohl ranked first in saves per game with a 14.33 average despite LTU’s 0-4 record in the Wolverine Hoosier Athletic Conference. Killewald was fifth in man-up goals per game with a 0.33 average and Clark ranked seventh in shots per game, averaging 5.67.
Looking forward to next season, Riley said the team will need to improve on the basic fundamentals of passing and catching.
“This year we had several players who had never played the game, so that was in itself a challenge,” the coach said. “Next season we will have a larger coaching staff, practice facilities will be better, and the incoming players will have ‘lacrosse knowledge’ and several years of experience.”
Recruiting for next season is going very well. “I am looking to have 10-12 players for the incoming class,” he said.
Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. Bloomberg Businessweek lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 20 percent of universities for return on undergraduate tuition investment, and highest in the Detroit metropolitan area. Lawrence Tech is also listed in the top tier of Midwestern universities by U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review. Students benefit from small class sizes and experienced faculty who provide a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 102-acre campus include over 60 student clubs and organizations and a growing roster of NAIA varsity sports.