The Cougars open at 8 p.m. tonight, as they take on the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Their fall schedule consists of 11 matches, ending Nov. 13 at the Best of the West Lacrosse Tournament in Las Vegas.
The schedule includes Westminster College, Colorado State, University of Northern Colorado and Denver University. Last season in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference, Colorado State finished first, while Utah and BYU were second and third, respectively.
BYU senior midfielder Daniel Cole said he is confident his team will be one to beat this year. Cole said the opener against the Utes is always a big game for both incoming freshmen and returners.
“They have a great team; it’s always a challenge, but we’ll come straight out the gate,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to prove how good we are in our conference and other national ranking teams.”
Second-year Cougar coach Matt Schneck said the team is looking forward to some real competition.
“It is a good opportunity to see what we have as a team,” he said. “I am excited to see the first opportunity to see the guys play someone other than themselves.”
Billy Nixon, a sophomore defender, said he is not nervous and thinks his team is well-prepared for its first game.
“It’ll be a good game to see what we need to work and improve on,” Nixon said.
Tyler Monteath, a senior midfielder and one of the team captains, said he is planning on success.
“I expect to come out with a win,” he said. “The games against Utah are always good. There’s a good rivalry and always good competition.”
The team is also preparing for the Cougar Fall Invitational on Oct. 30 on its home turf on the North University Fields. Fans can cheer them on as they take on UVU, Westminster College and Utah.
While some teams are focused on the first couple games of their season, BYU players are thinking of their end results. At the end of the fall lacrosse season, the Best of the West Lacrosse Tournament will be an event to watch, as many nationally ranked teams across the west will come together in Las Vegas.
“We need to continue the way we’re going and perform well there,” Nixon said. “We will show other teams that we truly are the best of the west.”
Schneck also said the Las Vegas tournament will be a good way to lead into the spring season.
“The off-season wouldn’t be complete without our annual trip to the Best of the West Tournament,” Schneck said in a news release. “We are looking forward to our final run-through as a team before we head into the regular season.”
Monteath knows this tournament from past seasons and said there is tough competition there, like Arizona State and Colorado State. However, he said he will reassure the team that they are just as good.
“We should expect to win it,” he said. “I am very confident about our team this year.”
“Our toughest opponent will be Colorado State,” Schneck said. “This tournament has great teams, great coaches, and it will be a great day for us to compete against them. We’ll learn a lot about ourselves.”
While the lacrosse team has many freshmen, it also has just as many returners and many older players coming back from missions.
“We usually have a young team, but we’ve been working toward a balanced roster,” Schneck said.
On a personal note, the lacrosse team has amplified its intensity and changed as a whole. Nixon said the new coaching system reflects less on winning games than on building character. Nixon said he played for both coaches and can see a completely new and different attitude.
“It has made us better players as we strive to become better men, better students and better priesthood holders,” Nixon said. “We have high standards and a strong spirit, which makes us a more unified team.”
We try to do things outside of lacrosse to get to know each other on a different, less athletic level,” Monteath said. “We do fun activities and firesides to see a different and spiritual side of each other.”
“Lacrosse is a small sport as it is,” Cole said, “but there’s a really strong bond within the team regardless. Our team is as strong as ever.”
For more: http://universe.byu.edu/node/11245