Upperclassmen leading the way for men’s lacrosse in push for OAC tourney

Through just seven games this season, the Baldwin Wallace University men’s lacrosse team is already recognizing how important the beginning of a season can be in the grand scheme of things.

Led by a plethora of upperclassmen, the Yellow Jackets sit with a 5-2 overall record. Second-year head coach Trey Keeley recognized that this year’s seniors have had a huge impact on the team.

“I think right now our seniors are definitely being a tested a bit,” Keeley said. “I think they are working extra hard and trying to figure out the best ways to communicate and to right the ship here at practice. It’s been a really strong group and I think our senior leadership and our captains have been a big part of what we have done this far.”

Though they started the season with five consecutive victories, they find themselves on the heel of a two-game losing streak, with just one non-conference game left. This week is when the games start to really matter according to Coach Keeley, who knows that even this early in the season it is important to get in the win column.

“We talk about Ohio Athletic Conference games being tickets to the big show,” Keeley said. “So you need to collect as many tickets as possible to really get into the conference tournament, and there were some great teams last year that didn’t make that conference tournament.”

Last season, a 5-3 record didn’t qualify teams for the tournament. One of the Yellow Jacket’s losses have already come to OAC opponent, Capital University. Keeley recognized that this already put his team at a disadvantage going into conference play.
“The big thing we’ve talked about is being disciplined. That can come from the coaches holding you accountable, but my biggest thing is that discipline is an individual skill,” Keeley said. “We’re only going to be great if our seniors take leadership. They know what they need to do and they do it on a regular basis and hold each other to a high standard.”

But, coming back from a deficit isn’t something the Yellow Jackets haven’t done before, which Keeley was quick to point out.

“It’s interesting because we’ve had a couple of different types of games. We’ve had games where we start hot, and hit our shots,” said Keeley. “But both of our losses we’ve started the game down 6-1, or 7-1 and been slow to get out of the gun.”

The last two games is when it came down for the Yellow Jackets, they weren’t able to produce more than 22 shots on goal, and against Capital they had eight failed clears, resulting in eight more possessions for Capital.

Keeley realizes that winning is great, but sometimes a loss can be beneficial as well.

“We’re trying to really figure out who we are I think, and we’ve learned a lot so far so I think we’re really close to figuring out what that fire is in us,” Keeley said. “Winning five games in a row feels good and I think it’s human nature to not be critical when things are going well. I think we got away from a few of the things that made us successful in the first place.

The Yellow Jackets have also realized that lacrosse is more than a game, and that their impact extends off the field. Keeley said that even after their tough conference loss to Capital, players were still able to put a smile on a fan’s face.

“One of the students who attended a clinic came to our game on Saturday. Obviously losing the game is tough, but after the game Kyle (the student) brought down a ball and had some of our players sign autographs and take pictures with him after the game,” Keeley said. “For our guys to take a moment after the game and put a smile on a kid’s face. That’s what fills me up more so than wins.”