Men's Sports Sports

The Springfield men’s lacrosse team prepares for a competitive schedule in 2022

By Hayden Choate

The Springfield College men’s lacrosse team is gearing up for what it hopes is the first full season since 2019. Having only played a total of seven games over the last two years, the Pride hopes to get back to a normal season where it can compete for the NEWMAC title. 

Despite losing all three games the team played last season, 39-year head coach Keith Bugbee is excited about this year’s team.

“Obviously the last two years have been tough,” Bugbee said. “(The team has) been really excited all year. Fall ball, everything, just a lot of energy, it’s a really good bunch.”

The last time the Pride won a game was May 8, 2019 in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The team’s current seniors were first-years then, having only played in eight games since and not a single full season, game experience is something Bugbee is stressing.

“Our true seniors are really sophomores in terms of game experience,” Bugbee said. “Game experience is really everything, you can practice all you want but a game is a game.” 

Coming into the season, the Pride do have an older roster this season, as one-third of the roster is seniors, fifth-years and graduate students. 

“It’s kind of an older team,” Bugbee said. “That’s probably the biggest nucleus that the team is and then there’s some sophomores who are contributing, then some juniors, definitely a good junior class.” 

Although the team does have many upperclassmen in all three areas of the field, the Pride have a small roster overall – one of the smallest Bugbee has had in a long time. This means a lot of players will play big minutes.

“We’re a little smaller squad,” Bugbee said. “But I’m okay with that because the nucleus is bigger so there’s less fringe but we got some warriors, we got some guys that are going to log a lot of minutes in games.” 

Last year, Springfield played one game in March and two at the end of April. Bugbee believes the hardest part of that was being able to establish the team’s culture, something that has been a large part of the program’s success in the past.

“The biggest thing for us is our culture is so important,” Bugbee said. “Our culture was completely absent even if it’s little things like, they have all their meals together or they hang out together. We couldn’t be in our locker room, they couldn’t socialize, they couldn’t eat meals together, culturally it was awful. We hardly ever practiced as a full team. We practiced in pods, we couldn’t scrimmage ourselves, and just when we thought we were ready to go we’d have a game canceled.”

The team was unable to scrimmage last year but has had three so far this season. Bugbee believes that outworking their opponents will be the strength of this year’s squad.

“The overall strength of our team is we have to outwork our opponents,” Bugbee said. “That’s what I saw in the two St. A’s scrimmages. We just worked harder especially in the fall we really outworked them. If we do that, we’ll be in all these games, if we don’t do that they’ll be long games but I feel good about this team, the leadership is really good, I think they’re dialed in.”

Back in 2019 when Springfield was in the NCAA tournament, they had won their 13th consecutive NEWMAC title. Springfield’s schedule in 2022 will be a good test for the team. 

“We play a really good schedule,” Bugbee said. “Our league has gotten so good. Half of our schedule include top 20 teams in the country.” 

Springfield has non-conference matchups with Nazareth, Stevens, Union, Tufts, Endicott, Amherst, Middlebury, Western New England and Wesleyan. In addition to that, the NEWMAC has gotten a lot stronger since Springfield’s last championship.

Bugbee expects Babson who won the championship last year, MIT, Coast Guard and Clark to all be in the mix. 

“I’m amazed how far it’s come,” Bugbee said. “It’s a really good league, clearly the second best league in our region, NESCAC is the best league, every game is going to be a little bit of a dogfight.”

Photo: Springfield College Athletics

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