The Springfield College men’s lacrosse team, coming off an 8-9 record last year, is feeling optimistic about the upcoming season, and the team’s leadership isn’t shy about expressing said feelings.
A lot of the positive feelings coming from the team’s head coach, Keith Bugbee, are rooted in the fact that the team has a significant amount of experience.
“It’s an interesting mix [of players],” Bugbee said. “We have some fifth-year guys, a bunch of really good seniors, some transfers. I feel like we have some [strong] leadership.”
Bugbee believes that because the COVID-19 pandemic forced the team to play a mere four or so games for two consecutive seasons, players had valuable reps taken from them, but they’ll be better off this year.
“[Some of the older players] before last year didn’t get to play that much,” Bugbee said. “They were like rookies in a lot of ways.”
“You can’t substitute experience…It takes a while to be able to figure out how to play at this level,” Bugbee added.
However, the 2023 squad will mix in its fair share of younger players, as well.
“At the same time, we have seven freshmen who will play some significant time,” Bugbee said. “I wouldn’t say we’re young, but we [will have] some youth out there.”
Bugbee seems confident that this mix of experience and youth will be a combination that sparks a successful season for the Pride. But for that to happen, individual players will have to step up.
Bugbee has his eyes on a few prospective candidates, in particular: senior captain Mason Nocito, a midfielder, and fellow senior captain Jackson Lane, who also plays midfield.
Lane is also one of the Pride’s three preseason All-Americans, joining graduate students Connor Roberts and Conor Tracy in earning those high honors.
For his part, Lane is simply eager to return to action.
“[I’m looking forward to] getting out there and playing games again,” Lane said. “Last year was our first season back since COVID. This year, we’ve had a full year and we know what’s coming, we know what’s going on. We’ve really got our culture back.”
Lane joins his coach in exuding optimistic energy about the Pride’s chances this year.
“We’re in a good spot, so I’m excited to get back into it with games,” Lane said.
Meanwhile, Nocito cites team chemistry as a main reason why he is enthusiastic about the weeks and months ahead.
“I’m looking forward to [the bond this team] is going to build together,” Nocito said. “We have a great group of guys, a bunch of competitors.”
Nocito undoubtedly also has his eyes set upon success, however.
“I want to [help the team improve],” Nocito said. “I want this team to win a NEWMAC championship. That’s always the ultimate goal.”
The Pride kick off the forthcoming campaign on the road against Nazareth this Saturday at 1 p.m.
Between Bugbee’s bullish prognostications on the fusion of veterans and younger players on the team’s roster, coupled with the enthusiasm on the athletes’ part to play well and play together, there is plenty to look forward to for those who follow the Pride.
Now, as the games soon will get underway, we wait to see if Nocito’s main goal of winning a NEWMAC crown will come to fruition.
Photo Courtesy of Springfield College Athletics