Every year is a rebuilding year for BYU lacrosse, and yet every year BYU is contending for the national championship.
BYU’s lacrosse team faces a unique challenge that no other team faces — it has a 50 percent turnover nearly every year due to freshmen leaving for missions and returned missionaries coming back to play. It is a challenge, however, that Head Coach Matt Schneck and the BYU staff have learned to deal with.
Cougar lacrosse started in 1975 and since 1995 has not had a losing season. In 1997, BYU joined the Men’s College Lacrosse Association, where the Cougars have competed in five national championship games and won four of them.
“(Winning) is built into the tradition of this program,” Schneck said. “The expectations of how we practice and prepare are preparing us to compete for the national championship. We are fortunate to be in that situation — that we are competing at that level every single year.”
Every BYU lacrosse player signs a contract at the beginning of every season. This contract commits them to play lacrosse under certain conditions. One of these conditions is playing until May 19, which happens to be the day after the national championship game. BYU is ranked third in the nation and will face eight ranked teams and 13 teams that have received top 25 votes. The Cougars have the toughest schedule in the league this season, and it will require hard work.
“We try to make our schedule the toughest every year,” Schneck said. “Our objective is to prepare us so that we are prepared to play the best lacrosse we can on May 18.”
The lacrosse team has produced over one hundred All-Americans and over one hundred Academic All-Americans. The BYU lacrosse tradition also stresses leadership. This is no exception for newly announced captains Pat Matheson, Mickell Walker and Rob Ostler.
Matheson, a returning captain from last year’s season, is a senior midfielder from Holladay. He averages 1.1 goals per game and was an honorable mention All-American last season. Ostler is a junior goalie from Manorville, New York. After school and lacrosse he is also the president of the Global Management Student Association. Walker is a senior defensive midfielder from Pleasant Grove. He earned second team All-American and scored 11 goals last season.
“We have a lot of natural leaders on the field, so it is not a lot of extra responsibility for me,” Walker said. “I just try to be an example.”
In the midst of the long road trips, games, school and their student associations, the Cougars find their spiritual side every season.
“I love the road trips, getting to know the guys and the firesides with the youth,” Ostler said.
Every season the lacrosse team finds ways to reach out to the community and holds firesides for the youth in the cities they play. They share their love for sports and their love for God.
“We are here to win, but we love to serve,” Matheson said.
This season, BYU announced 17 regular season games including seven home games. BYU’s first game is Feb. 8 at home against Boise State.
For a complete lacrosse schedule, visit BYU Lacrosse.