BYU lacrosse hopes to reclaim national title

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BYU winds up for a shot last season. The Cougars will play their first home game Feb 6 (Universe Archive)
A BYU player fights for a ground ball in a game played last season. The Cougars will play their first home game Feb. 6. (Universe Archive)

The BYU lacrosse team is anxiously awaiting the start of their 2016 season after going 14–6 last season.

“I’m really excited to get going,” senior Harrison Wardle said. “We’ve been practicing for a while now and I’m ready to play games.”

This season’s schedule is challenging as the Cougars face some top-notch competition, including defending champion Grand Canyon University.

However, the team is confident in their ability to compete. When asked whether or not he was feeling apprehensive about the upcoming schedule, senior Matt Brandenburg said he didn’t think it was a bad thing to be nervous.

“When you’re nervous, it’s just because you want something good to happen,” Brandenburg said. “We might be nervous, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to choke.”

The team didn’t mince words when asked what their goals were this season. In 2011, the Cougars won the national championship and are ready to reclaim that title in 2016.

“Our goal as a team is to win the national championship,” Brandenburg said. “It’s a goal I know we can achieve. We all know that we can beat these teams even if they’re in the top ten.”

In order to feel more confident against these difficult teams, head coach Matt Schneck said they’ve been focusing on fundamentals.

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Mike Fabrizio is fist bumped by a teammate after scoring against UNLV. Fabrizio is one of six seniors the Cougars are replacing this season. (Elliott Miller)

“We’ve always had a team that performs quite well, but there are some areas that have taken much longer for us to develop as a team,” Schneck said. “So what we did this year is we took a close look at what we did at the beginning of last season and looked at some of the basics we felt like we needed to focus on. Hopefully we’ll get off to an even stronger start.”

There are other challenges the Cougars are faced with, including the large turnover. The team experiences around a 50 percent turnover every year, and this year was no exception. There are new incoming freshmen but also returned-missionary freshmen joining the team. The roster this year features only four true seniors, but Schneck is happy with their leadership.

“We’re used to the turnover,” Schneck said. “This season it’s been about the senior leadership and helping the team gel. We have a good core group of guys that have been around for several years and they have taken the younger guys under their wings and help the team mesh together. The unity of our team is exceptional, better than we’ve seen in other years.”

Freshman Jack Vassau said they’ve been working on being more unified as a team, instead of relying on individuals.

“I feel like our team has been focusing on meshing more as a team,” Vassau said. “In the past we’ve had a bunch of good individuals, but not necessarily a strong team as a whole. So I think this year we are trying to click more as a team because that’s how you win games.”

The Cougars will play their first home game Feb. 6 against Utah State.

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