‘It’s nonstop action’

Carolyn Drummond

Club lacrosse gaining recruits because of team’s recent success

Sophomore midfielder Nate Jones attempts to pass two Youngstown State players during last Wednesday’s game. Caitlin Sirse | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Two Youngstown State players attempt to get the ball from junior midfielder Jake Ferlito during last Wednesday’s game at the Fieldhouse. Kent State beat the Penguins 14-1. Caitlin Sirse | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

On men’s lacrosse nights at the Fieldhouse, voices carry. Whether the club team is winning or losing, it’s not hard to hear what Kent State coach Mark Lewis has to say.

“I’m telling you what, guys – I’m losing my patience,” Lewis hollered from the sidelines. “Start catching the ball!”

The players got the message, as the team beat Youngstown State 14-1 in its game last Wednesday.

As part of the National Collegiate Lacrosse League, Kent State plays in the Midwest North division. The club team has been around since 1979 but is making a name for itself now.

“Mr. Lewis has done a phenomenal job,” junior attackman Joe Idone said. “Now kids are calling to play here.”The skill and competitiveness of the team has high school lacrosse players considering Kent State a place to continue playing their sport. Lewis answers about six calls each week from prospective students, many from out of state.

“What’s unique about this team is how it got jump-started,” Lewis said. “(Some players) wanted to upgrade the lacrosse program. They gave commitment to us.”

Eleven players were recruited to play lacrosse on scholarship at NCAA schools but found their way to Kent State instead.

Idone is one of those players. After four years at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Kent, he played NCAA Division II lacrosse at Wheeling Jesuit. Now he hopes the Kent State team makes it to the NCLL national tournament.

“I don’t envision us losing,” Idone said with a smile. “But that’s just the way I think.”

He’s not the only one who sees the team going far.

“This team has a lot of confidence,” junior attackman Joe Mattucci said.

A successful season this spring could draw more interest from students. But next year, interest won’t be enough to make the team. The 34 players currently on the roster walked on to the team. Next year, tryouts will cut the roster down to around 25 players, an average-sized team for lacrosse.

“My philosophy is if you’re going to pay dues, then you’re going to play,” Lewis said.

Each player pays $350 in dues. The team also holds fundraisers to ease the cost, and the Kent State athletic department provides the Fieldhouse and Dix Stadium at a reduced price for practices and games.

“The athletic department has been outstanding (by) letting us use their facilities,” Lewis said.

Lewis said Andre Seoldo, assistant athletic director for facilities and operations, has been the force behind getting playing time and space.

“He has been the biggest help and has gone out of his way,” Lewis said.

The team makes sure to get all it can out of its field time.

“It’s nonstop action,” Mattucci said. “There’s a lot of scoring and hitting.”

While the intensity on the field is high, playing lacrosse doesn’t place a heavy time commitment on students’ schedules. The team practices just twice a week.

Lewis said some students missed the Youngstown State game because of class projects, and that’s not a problem.

That understanding allows players to enjoy the game.

“It brings the fun back to the game,” junior midfielder Eric Marchetti said. “With this team, you can be serious and still have fun.”

Sophomore goalie Bobby Lyle, who said he believes he and fellow sophomore goalie Brian Lewis are “a good one-two punch,” said the team atmosphere is positive.

“It’s really laid-back, but it’s serious when it needs to be,” Lyle said. “If you’ve never played before, you can pick it up.”

Those who are interested in playing lacrosse can attend practice and borrow equipment to try out.

The Flashes will take on the Cleveland Lacrosse Club at 2 p.m. March 7 in the Fieldhouse.

After a span of away games, the team will return home in mid-April to play at Dix Stadium.

“In the springtime, if you don’t want to watch baseball and you want to watch someone get hit, come see us,” Idone said.

Contact club sports reporter Carolyn Drummond at [email protected].