By Jack Ravitz
The Sacred Heart University men’s lacrosse team began their season on Saturday by taking on Georgetown University in Washington D.C. Sacred Heart wound up losing 13-10.
The team is striving for goals in the 2019 season which include lifting up some hardware in May. This year’s group of upperclassmen have already made some program history by making back-to-back postseason conference tournaments for the first time.
Senior co-captain and midfielder Max Tuttle, who became the first Pioneer lacrosse player to become an All-American in the 2018 season, said that preparation for this season began during the fall.
“The offseason sets the foundation for the whole year,” said Tuttle. “If you have a terrible fall, you’re not going to have a good spring.”
The other senior co-captain, Joe Saggese, who led the team in assists last season with 43 (according to Sacred Heart Athletics), has made the freshmen his top priority this year.
“It’s huge to have the team gel as one because there are a lot of newcomers who have come in and are slow to adjust to the pace of college lacrosse,” said Saggese. “Once they see how much of a family we are, and how much we’re there to support them, it’s pretty easy for them to get into the groove of things.”
Head coach Jon Basti also wants the freshmen to feel as comfortable as possible.
“At first, it’s not even about playing lacrosse,” said Basti. “It’s about allowing them to be themselves and by doing that, it allows these new guys to adapt to our culture.”
Basti said that the team relies on three things in order to help bring everyone together through the season; courage, grit, and resolve.
Practices began three weeks ago and Basti has liked the strides his players have made from last season.
“The energy has been consistent and I’ve seen us get better,” said Basti. “Players have fixed mistakes and they’re coaching each other instead of us always having to do it. They’re doing it because they want each other to be great.”
According to Sacred Heart Athletics, last season’s team averaged 11 goals per game and nine in conference play. The defense caused 132 turnovers, while picking up a total of 460 ground balls.
“Offensively, the plan is to be as efficient as we can by using a fast tempo and consistently playing with a sense of urgency,” said Basti. “Defensively, constant communication is key as well creating turnovers and causing havoc to our opponents.”
The team has started 4-1 in the past two seasons, which has helped them reach the NEC Semifinals in both years.
“It’s been cool the last two years making it to the Semis, and we think it’s a great start to where this program is heading,” said Tuttle. “But at the same time, I think everyone’s mindset and goals are to go a little further this year.”
The team’s next game is at 11 a.m. on Feb. 16. They’ll travel to Philadelphia to take on Furman College at Radnor High School.