At a school where football takes center stage and varsity sports make front page news, BYU’s lacrosse team is proving that extramural sports bring just as much success to their school as the collegiate teams do.
In a monumental season, the BYU men’s lacrosse program reached their highest rank in the last four years while at the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA) tournament in 2018. They returned from the tournament ranked No. 3 in the league.
“One of our main goals was to take it game by game, not go straight to the national championship, so that’s what we did,” said Connor Williams, a first-year graduate student on the team.
After a successful season, BYU fell to Michigan State in the tournament semi-finals on May 10, but not before securing an emotional win against hometown rival Utah, handing the No. 5 Utes their only loss of the season just two days before.
“The University of Utah game in the national championship tournament may have been one of the best wins ever in BYU lacrosse history,” said head coach of ten years, Matt Schneck. “It was the last game that BYU and Utah will ever play against each other. If you have one game left against your biggest rival in the series, that’s how you want to play the game.”
In the final minute of the game, senior Chris Severson scored the game-winning goal, ending the match with a score of 10-9.
“It was one of the only times I played in a game where I wasn’t afraid to lose because we were really supposed to,” said Arty Williams, a BYU senior and one of the 2018 season team captains. “It’s really the fear of losing that holds people back from their potential.”
BYU finished their season with a 16-4 record, which included wins against Stanford, No. 10 Cal Berkeley, Boise State and No. 25 Texas A&M. Alongside their No. 3 ranking, ten Cougar lacrosse players earned 2018 MCLA All-American Honors, including one 1st team and two 2nd team All-American spots.
Moving forward, the team is ready to train their young core of returning players and recruits and plans on carrying their recent success into the 2019 season.
“We have a very strong and mature defense coming back. We have All-Americans coming back in on offense, and then we have some new guys that will be scattered into that mix as well,” Coach Schneck said. “But the fall is and always has been about development. We’re trying to figure out the chemistry, see who works well together.”
But while the coaches are preparing the team on the field, lacrosse team members are doing their best to prepare the team off the field.
“Our job is to continue to create a culture that will integrate the new guys onto the team,” Severson said. “Last year, I think one of the reasons our team was so incredible is because we made an incredible brotherhood.”
With the turnover rate of BYU lacrosse members being close to 50 percent each year, it is vital that the team integrate new members quickly, and this post season is no different.
“We plan on taking the new guys and making them a part of that and make the team as much of a brotherhood — if not more of one — than it was last year,” Severson said.
Although the team wants to bring home as many wins and tournament championships as possible, their ultimate goal is much larger in scope than an MCLA title.
“Our motto and what we try to do at BYU is so much more than play lacrosse. It’s about developing ourselves as future spouses, as fathers and as people in the community,” said Grant Malquist, a returning sophomore on the team. “I’ve been a part of other lacrosse programs across the country, and we have something very different and special here. I think that part of our success comes from that.”
Looking to the future, the lacrosse program is beginning their preparations for the upcoming season and hopes to bring a championship title home to BYU in 2019.
“We are very fortunate that, as a program, we get such wonderful support from the university that allows us to play great competition and prepares us for the long run in the season,” said Schneck. “Lacrosse isn’t who we are, it’s what we do.”
The finalized roster was released Saturday, Sept. 8, and team practices begin Monday, Sept. 10. The first scrimmage date and other team details can be found on the lacrosse team’s official website and Facebook page.