Saturday May 10th, 2014 Owl Stadium Complex- Keene State College- Keene, NH 2014 Little East Men’s Lacrosse Conference Finals #3 UMass Dartmouth Corsairs v. #1 Keene State Owls
It’s been a long journey. And finally after four years of hard work, we had reached our goal at last. The Corsairs were in the LEC Finals. However, our work was not finished yet. We had to keep our foot on the gas to achieve the glory we had long sought after. Sixty more minutes. That’s all us seniors had left in our lacrosse careers. The last thing we were going to do in our final moment was lose. Not after coming this far. We wanted, no, we needed to cement our legacy. We put too many hours on the field and in the weight room to let anyone stop us from finding our destiny. It didn’t matter that Keene was the number one seed and undefeated. It didn’t matter that no team in UMD had ever beat the Owls. No team in UMD history had ever gotten this far in a season. So why couldn’t we keep the trend going of us being the “firsts”? Why not us? The whistle blew and the first face-off was under way. I had goose bumps as I chased after that first ground ball. I had never been so in the zone in my life. I was so fired up I wanted to tear someone’s head off. And that’s exactly what I did. I saw an Owl going after the ball at the same I was. Bad idea, pal, I thought. CRACK!. The sound echoed on the turf and into the stands after I lowered my shoulder and sent #24 to the ground with all the might I had. As he tossed and turned in pain on the green carpet collecting black, rubber turf pellets in his mouth, I scooped up the ball and motored up the field. Our bench was roaring. What a way to start off a game, three seconds in and absolutely crushing a kid from a team we despised. It was our game to lose now. I passed the ball off to our top scorer, Bo, and bee-lined for the net. Bo looked off his defender and spotted me wide open, stick in the air, ready to capitalize on the defense while they were on their heels. He delivered me the ball on a rope. When I got it, I didn’t even think twice. I felt the ball land in my stick and fired without thinking twice. I looked at the net and saw the back of it pop. It was beautiful. Goal. 1-0 Corsairs. The goalie dropped to his knees and smacked his helmet with his hands in disappointment. We all believed now. We could do this. We could make history. The first quarter ended at a stale mate, 4-4. But we weren’t nervous, we were very much in this game. Besides a couple hiccups on defense, we knew we had the talent and the heart to pull off one of the biggest upsets in NCAA lacrosse history. WE WERE READY. The game moved along at a racing speed. I was blacked out and locked into the action. Every chance I got, I sped around the field. Picking up loose balls, making defensive stops, delivering thunderous hits. They say you should “play every game like it were your last”, and that’s exactly what I was doing. And that’s because it was. I had played lacrosse my whole life, and it was coming to an end. I was determined to go out on the highest of notes. I wanted to hoist that LEC trophy, I wanted to come back after graduation and raise a banner with my brothers and arms that I had fought with for four long years at UMass Dartmouth. Entering the third quarter, the score was 8-7 Keene. Their reputation of a high powered offense, the best in Division III, held true. But we kept our heads up. We blanked them on the scoreboard that quarter with shut down defense. We came into the second half knowing exactly what we had to do, leave it all on the field. Entering the fourth quarter, we were leading 10-8. 15 minutes left. That was it. If we could just keep momentum on our side and have everyone do their job, we would get on the bus as champions. We would go back to 285 Old Westport Road a trophy and our heads held high. This was our moment, our moment for greatness. The fourth frame began. Off the face-off, I sent another Owl to the turf. Picked up the ball and started another fast break to Bo. Again, Bo sent it right back to me, another goal. The first and only multi-goal game of my collegiate career. I was on a high. It felt like no other drug. The adrenaline was coursing through my body. I was numb. But it wasn’t about me or my personal achievements. If we didn’t leave with a W then it would all be for not. We had to keep pushing. And keep pushing we did. Time winded down. The seconds clicked down. All of sudden there was a minute left. And as fate would have it, we lost composure for just a brief movement. The referee’s whistle shrieked. Penalty. Slashing, UMD #33. One minute. The score was 14-13, we were still in the lead. However we made things that much harder on ourselves to achieve what people said was the impossible. We were forced to now play man-down defense for the short period of time left in the tilt. The whistle blew again and play began. The Owls high powered offense circled the ball around trying to make our defensive unit move and find an opening to fire a shot at the net. This was their last chance. Tick-tick-tick, the seconds were winding down. With five seconds left, they passed the ball to a wide open man right in front of the net. Time paused for me, it was as if it was all developing in slow motion. NO, this can’t happen, this won’t happen. I darted to the open man and dove with my stick outstretched. I tipped the pass and the ball fell to the earth. The horn blew. WE DID IT. Corsairs win 14-13. Your new LEC Champions of 2014. The first league title in UMass Dartmouth history. Our dream had come true at last.