SOUTHWESTERN BOWS OUT OF NATIONAL TOURNAMENT IN QUARTERFINAL LOSS TO GVSU 23-13
[5/15/08] The score did not do the game justice. There are blowouts, and there are games, like this one, where a team has superior individual talent and depth, and is simply "that good". This was one of those games.
Southwestern, playing in its first ever Quarterfinal appearance after getting by Ft. Lewis the day before, went head to head with Grand Valley State out of Michigan. The #2 team in the nation had some unbelievable stick skills, and were relentless on offense.
The Bucs, coming off of their best game of the year the day before, and at least (it seems) 50 gallons of Gatorade to rehydrate), were not only a little slow, but also outmanned, by a team that had earned the right to a first round bye the day before. To top it off, the weather was, well, wet. It had rained the night before leaving much of the field a muddy quagmire, and the overcast sky left the air as thick and humid as possible without actually having precipitation drop, although that happened sporadically as well.
All this led to the Bucs starting off, to say the least, a little slow. GVSU was very talented and took advantage of their excellent stick handling and passing skills to take an early 8-1 lead in the first, as the Bucs simply could not seem to muster the energy required for our team to play so well. After leaving it all on the field the day before in the win, the weather and high humidity seemed to drain the guys.
However, while GVSU was at another level, the Bucs slowly, and I mean slowly started to gain some legs and confidence, and play the way they knew they could as the game went on. GVSU was very crisp in their passing and shot placement. Whereas in many of the games this year, our defense on players would have left a pass attempt unmade, GVSU had the players to make accurate passes in a crowd and to finish. While we played defense on players, we did not cover their sticks on many occasions, and they were able to finish. Fast breaks were also a problem throughout the game as the Bucs simply didn't have the legs to keep up.
As the game went on, and especially in the late third and throughout the fourth, the Bucs outplayed the Lakers by simply out-hustling them. Between Heath at faceoff, who won over 75% of his face-offs for the day, and Jake at LSM, the Bucs were able to gain posession and the offense was able to capitalize with great ball movement and a never say die attitude, forcing the subs that GVSU put in at the very beginning of the fourth to immediately go back to the bench after two goals on a 4 goal spree. The Bucs got a close as 7 in the fourth and played until the very end with everything they had, walking off the field as one of the most successful teams to have ever played for Southwestern Lacrosse.
While they did not know it at the time, the seniors all played their hearts out in what was their last game ever wearing the Black, Gold and White. Cole, Jake, Bryson (who notched his 100th point), Lane, JMO, and our President, Lockwood, who placed two shots in the goal in his last game ever as a Buc, all did a tremendous job. While the loss was a surprise to almost no one, the Bucs had finally made it to Nationals and performed the way they knew they could.
The seniors had left a team that would have a very good chance of coming back the following year, and the freshmen were all able to play the entire year giving them experience that will only make them better players as they return next year.
Everyone stepped up this year on the team and found a way to come together and once again far exceed anything that had been done in the past.
As we look back at the 2008 season, I am reminded how lucky I am to be with such a great group of young men, and for us all to have so many supporters in family, friends and the University. Each year we seem to raise the bar, and each year we bring in more guys to fill the void of seemingly unreplaceable teammates. I am positive the strong traditions we have created and that the departing seniors have left, will be looked upon as a foundation for what teams in the future, starting next year(because the juniors haven't done to bad either), can do.
There were over 65 practices, 17 games, countless scrimmages, and numerous campus miles and windsprints this year. But in the end it was fun, it was competitive, and it was lacrosse at Southwestern. And we did it with far fewer guys that have lacrosse experience than ANYONE else. Ask anyone who has played before, that will be something that will be remembered for the rest of their lives.
I am proud of the steps each inividual on the team took, and that the team as a whole took together this year. Each season presents its own unique challenges, and each player can make a decision to truly be a part of the team and contribute in many many ways that may not show up on the scoreboard or in the record books. Southwestern Lacrosse is and has been successful precisely because there are so many on the team each year that find a way to do that. That is indeed a good trait as a team to have, and it has served us well.
Best of luck to all the Seniors, and once again, thanks to everyone from the players, to the parents, girlfriends, and University staff, as well as Monty and Stacy, for all the support we were given.
Til next year.
- Bill Bowman