MSU Lacrosse: an up and coming powerhouse

Nick Soter (#33) races past a University of Utah Valley player during their March 24 match. Photo credit: Paul W. Fitzgerald.

What: Montana State Lacrosse Club
When: Season will resume in the spring
Cost: $1,500 for new members, $1,000 for returners

The Montana State Lacrosse Club started back in 2003 when a disorganized group of young men from all over the nation decided they did not want to stop playing lacrosse because they had moved to Montana. Today, the club is an organized team which belongs to the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association and has received their first national ranking and title after winning their Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Association Conference Championship.

Mason Sweeney, the club’s president, believes the team owes its recent success to the dedication of their coach, Mike Robitaille, who has taken the team from a 2-9 season back in 2010 to this year’s record of 11-4. In recognition of his efforts the RMLA recently awarded Robitaille the Coach of the Year Award.

Sweeney describes Lacrosse as “hockey on two feet” but is quick to point out that what is most alluring about the game are the finer points of the competition. “People see players leveling each other and beating each other with sticks and miss the fine points. Lacrosse requires a high level of finesse to ensure a proper pass or good shot, it all rests on the finest flick of the stick but is easily compromised with 20 guys out in the fray.”

This finesse is not easily mastered and the team meets three times a week during their season and twice a week in the off season to practice.

Sweeney claims the practice has definitely paid off: “Last season we beat the Grizzlies twice,” once in the season and again when they hosted a tournament a few weeks ago. “Our 20 man team beat their 30 man team 4-3, a very intense game not only because of how close it was but also because of the inherent rivalry we have.”

Beating the Griz was definitely a big step for the Division II team — the Griz are a Division I team which means that not only did they have more members, but have received far more funding and support than the MSU team. Sweeney and the team hold fundraisers throughout the year and have a contract with University Facilities to clean up the stadium after Cat games to receive further funding.

The Lacrosse Club will be playing UM in Bozeman next March, which should be an entertaining game to watch. On top of this they will be playing Westminster, St. Mary’s and Gonzaga — all nationally ranked teams.

Sweeney is confident the team will continue to improve and hopes to see increased support and interest in the games next year. Anyone who is interested in the playing on the team is encouraged to email Sweeney at mason.sweeney@msu.montana.edu.