Expectations are rising for the Michigan State University men’s lacrosse team, and that has never been a bad thing.
“When you play at MSU, you don’t lose a weak game and you make the national tournament,” men’s lacrosse head coach Brandon Schwind said.
The No. 7 Spartans are fresh off their second-straight Central Collegiate Lacrosse Association (CCLA) title and fourth-straight Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA) tournament appearance.
MSU amassed a 14-3 record overall last season and a 6-0 record in the CCLA last year, winning the CCLA tournament, but falling in the second-round of the MCLA tournament to national runner-up Colorado.
“Our goals are to be consistent, take each game one at a time, win (the CCLA) again and have a strong showing in the national tournament,” Schwind said.
The Spartans are young this year. Five All-Americans moved on from last year’s squad. However, a solid nucleus of playmakers returns.
Junior second-team All-American Matt Allemang will be in goal for the Spartans, providing a steady presence between the pipes. MSU also returns senior All-American honorable mention attackman Mitch Hall.
“Several players take turns at times being a hype-man, at getting us riled up,” Schwind said. “Allemang is definitely a verbal guy, though.”
There are several newcomers to keep an eye on for the Spartans. Schwind is excited to see freshman defensive midfielder Tyler Mortenson’s “ability to clear the ball in the open field.”
On the offensive side, attackman Danny Meyers is “quick, and dodges with a purpose,” Schwind said.
MSU has a brutal schedule, and will get a series of tough tests early. CCLA rival, Central Michigan University is up first, followed by Indiana University.
The Spartans then go on the road to play No. 4 BYU, No. 1 Colorado State and No. 2 Colorado in three successive games over four days. Colorado State is the defending MCLA Division-I champion.
After a road game against CCLA opponent Ohio University, the Spartans have a long home stand. The next eight games are in Michigan and six are in East Lansing. CCLA teams University of Toledo, Western Michigan University and No. 25 Davenport University visit MSU.
MSU ends the regular season with road games against CCLA rival and No. 22 University of Pittsburgh, and No. 16 University of Connecticut.
Pitt and Davenport University appear to be the teams with the best chance to unseat the Spartans in the CCLA. Both teams have several key players returning. Pitt might have a little edge as they host the Spartans.
It will be a challenging schedule for the Spartans with eight games against ranked teams.
“We’re a young team, but we’re developing nicely,” Schwind said. “We’ll look for our big players to make big plays in big games.”
Tyler Beck is the host of Lax Attack for Impact Sports.
Justin Sienkowski is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.
Photo: Michigan State University Men’s Lacrosse