The Springfield College men’s lacrosse team has a big target on its back and is being shot at by every team in the conference. It has fended off arrows that were aimed right at the bullseye—arrows launched from the bows of Babson, Wheaton, Mass Maritime, Emerson and Coast Guard.
With one game remaining, the Pride will look to remain without a scratch. MIT will have the last shot at Springfield before the start of the NEWMAC tournament.
Undefeated in the conference, the Pride are in good shape to be the number one seed in the tournament, which starts on May 4. If the Pride take care of MIT, the one seed will be a lock. However, Springfield can’t show up and take anyone for granted. The Pride are going to have to fight.
“You can’t take a day off or take anyone lightly,” Springfield coach Keith Bugbee said. “We have to make sure we come to play because if we don’t, look out. It’s a given that conference teams are going to play hard against us. With that comes a responsibility to embrace that challenge and return it by giving them our best.”
Senior Dylan Sheehan added, “There is always pressure to win, especially with the target on our back within the league. We embrace the pressure. It makes us work even harder. We use it to our advantage.”
Behind the Pride are Babson and MIT—teams that have one conference loss apiece. Babson lost to Springfield in overtime and MIT lost to Babson 13-10. Babson has two games remaining against Emerson and Coast Guard, games the Beavers shouldn’t struggle too heavily with. MIT’s final games are against Wheaton and Springfield. If things stand the way they do now, Springfield will be the first seed, Babson second and MIT third.
“I haven’t looked at it too closely,” Bugbee said. “I’m trying to just focus on us. If we win out, we’ll be the one seed.”
Whoever does get the one seed will host the championship game. Hosting the tournament is a huge advantage as the team plays in front of its home fans on familiar turf.
“It’s a huge deal,” Bugbee said. “We’re much better at home. It was really tough to win at Babson last year. We really had to dig deep for that win.”
The Pride defeated the Beavers 13-7 in the 2015 championship game and have plans to raise the trophy again this year. However, with the competition level consistently growing in the conference, the Pride know that they have to work as hard as ever to go back to back.
“We are feeling pretty good as a team right now,” Sheehan said. “We also know that we are still not a finished product and continue with our goal of getting better every time we step on the field. We know that we cannot take any team lightly and that from here. Every game is a playoff game mentality.”
Bugbee is a coach who knows what it takes to win conference championships, as he was one eight straight NEWMAC championships and nine of the last 10. However, he is only focused on the future.
“It takes a lot of humility. We can’t rely on anything that has happened in the past. The league has gotten so much stronger over the years.”