By VINCENT PERSTAD
For most college athletes, graduation signifies that life is about to begin and that the days of college sports are over. That’s not the case for Tampa Lacrosse Alumni. On Oct. 15, they returned to UT to give the Spartans a fight.
The Spartans came out strong, beginning a 9-3 lead over the alumni in the very first period. “They were really trying to get after us,” said freshman mid-fielder Jake Pepe during the game. “However, it’s fun to know that they still want to put up a fight.”
This year’s team has 60 players on the roster with another 30 players on the junior varsity team, making it one of the biggest athletic teams on the UT campus.
Although Pepe can not play due to an ankle injury, he continuously paces up and down the field cheering his team on, but he isn’t overly worried about the outcome of the game. “[Coach] probably wants us to put up twenty points on the scoreboard,” he said, “which, as of right now, seems more than likely.”
The lacrosse team at UT recently moved up from No. 6 ranked to No. 5, making them the top team to beat in the Sunshine State Conference (SSC). Last season the team went 15-3, only losing to Limestone College twice and Mercyhurst once. The Spartans will see their first game next February, so this game will allow the freshmen to get a taste of competing at a collegiate level and give them a chance to shine for the coaches and their fellow team members.
“A few of our top players are out right now due to injuries,” said UT men’s lacrosse head coach Rory Whipple. “However, the younger players on the team are really stepping up and playing as a team so it’s looking really good.”
Attack Jake Schmidt, a graduate student with a year of playtime left, says the team is getting stronger with the incoming freshman class this year. “The alumni are definitely playing rough out there today, but it’s all in good fun,” Schmidt said. “Many of the things they are doing out there aren’t legal, but that just makes it more interesting for us.” Schmidt said. Due to a bone deformity in his foot, Schmidt can’t play in the alumni game but is more motivated than ever to go out with a bang.
The alumni came back with another point at the beginning of second period, setting the score to 9-4. However, their celebration was short lived when the Spartans knocked another point onto their lead for 10-4.
In the end, the Spartans came back with a vengeance in the third and fourth quarter, bringing their total points to 16. The alumni did their best but had to suffice with two more points bringing their total to six.
With over 40 alumni players coming back to play this game, it can be deemed successful — especially, considering the six points they scored against the fifth best Division II lacrosse team in the nation.
Vincent Perstad can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org