The Boise State men’s lacrosse club enters fall play this week as they travel to Salt Lake City, Utah to battle against Brigham Young University, University of Utah and Utah State University.
The team plays in the Pacific Northwest Collegiate Lacrosse League Division I (PNCLL), competing against conference opponents including Simon Fraser University, University of Oregon, Oregon State, University of Washington and Washington State. Going into this season, the club team ranks 23rd in the 2023 final Men’s College Lacrosse Association (MCLA) Division I coaches poll.
The men’s team ended their 2023 regular season with a 8-5 record, ultimately losing to Simon Fraser University in the semifinals of the PNCLL tournament.
“It definitely stings, especially for a lot of the seniors,” club treasurer and long stick midfielder Cooper Vail said. “We’re just looking forward [to this season]. We know that we’re a different team than last year and we know that they’re a different team. As far as I’m concerned, that Simon Fraser game, it’s definitely kind of like our get back [game].”
The team looks to get back to the PNCLL championship, where they last won it in May of 2022 in a quadruple overtime thriller against University of Oregon.
In the MCLA, a champion from each of the nine conferences earns a spot in the MCLA tournament. The tournament includes 16 teams that battle in a single elimination tournament in the month of May. The 2024 tournament takes place in Round Rock, Texas.
“It was one of the best experiences,” senior midfielder and club president Ian Morrison said. “Being with the top-16 teams in the nation, it’s something that you want more of and I think that’s really the drive for us.”
The team’s motto for this season is B.Y.O.E: bring your own energy. A familiar saying from men’s lacrosse alumni Andrew Walker, a former captain of the lacrosse team who passed away unexpectedly over the summer.
“That’s what we’re going to focus on this year,” Vail said. “Carry the torch for what he stood for, which is just bring your own energy wherever you’re going in life. Be that light in someone’s life.”
Sophomore midfielder Caden Hohne, is recovering from a recent life saving heart surgery and his status for the spring season is up in the air. For now, Hohne is continuing to be involved with the rest of the team by attending weekly practices.
“He loves the game and he loves the sport,” Morrison said. “Having his brother Chase [Hohne] on the team too, he’s a good support system. I can’t wait to have him back.”
The lacrosse club is a player run organization where players are required to pay their own dues. These dues cover costs of equipment, hotel, travel, food, etc. In addition, the team raises money through Boise State’s crowdfunding program “Pony Up”.
They also receive aid from local sponsors such as Micron, Cascade, ESI Construction and The James Kitchen & Bar. Donations to the team can also be made on the Boise State University website.
In the 2023 spring season, the team achieved a 6-1 home record. Morrison says that the team’s recent success and their social media pages help draw in attendance.
“You start to notice that at games because more people are starting to come out and they want to see what it’s about, which is awesome,” Morrison said. “There’s really big hope that we can get this program to be in a top-10 setting soon.”
The team’s most anticipated matchup for next season is against the University of Oregon.
“Oregon is a huge game in any sport, and it’s the exact same in lacrosse,” Vail said. “Oregon is a notoriously good program and when we play them either in Eugene or in Boise, it’s always a big game, we always get a big show out, and it’s always super competitive back and forth.”
Outside of athletics, the club focuses heavily on academic success for the players. The club requires their members to enroll in at least 12 credits throughout the semester.
“It’s important to have a system within the process where we hold our guys accountable,” Vail said. “We know that not making grades is unacceptable. If you’re going to be on this team, you resemble us, you resemble the university.”
Morrison said that it’s important to find balance between academics and athletics, ultimately finding ways to sacrifice time when a player is prepared for practices and games.
The team maintained a majority of players from last season, losing only six seniors. On the defensive side, four starters are returning on defense with a couple of them being first and second team all conference players.
However, one of the six seniors lost was goalkeeper Michael Doud. Formerly known as “The Brick Wall” for his reliable presence as goalkeeper, Doud finished third in the PNCLL for saves percentage at around 60%, earning 1st Team All-Conference Goalie honors in 2023.
The team is bringing back two former players in Doud as the team’s goalie coach and also former All-American attackman Ryan Henning to be the new offensive coordinator.
A couple new players to watch out for this season is sophomore attackman/midfielder Brett Wheeler, who Morrison referred to as a “slick and slippery” player. On the defensive side, another standout is junior goalie Jacob Wong, who’s making a good impression in practice.
“I talked about how big the shoes were to fill from Michael [Doud] and I think Jacob Wong has done a great job of that,” Vail said. “He’s very poised in the cage, which is a great characteristic for a goalie to have. He’s smart with the ball and he’s made some incredible saves.”
For training, the team spends Mondays and Wednesdays in team workouts with a local program called Off The Field. Vail says this program has been a huge help in keeping the players fast and strong, but also, teaching the players the proper mechanics on how to run and lift. For Tuesdays and Thursdays, the team practices at Caven-Williams Sports Complex from 7 p.m to 8:30 p.m.
Both Vail and Morrison have personal goals they want to achieve with the lacrosse club that focuses on their role on and off the field. Vail, who was awarded second team all conference last season, focuses on improving as a player but also hopes to leave a legacy behind for future lacrosse club members.
“I think first team [all conference] is definitely a goal of mine,” Vail said. “As far as what I want to leave behind, it’s nice to step up into a role as a younger guy when there’s big shoes to fill. So if I can make my shoes as big as possible, then I think that just pushes the younger generation.”
After nursing an ACL injury, Morrison now looks forward to leading the team in his senior year.
“Be that guy that guys can look up to, whether that’s on the field, off the field, in the classroom,” Morrison said. “It’s one of those things where I think leaving a legacy and an impression on this team and the school in general that we’re here to win and these are the guys that have that culture and that mindset.”
The team’s schedule for the spring season is expected to be posted sometime towards the end of the year. The schedule is projected to include 13 total games, four of those games are at home. Additional information about the club can be found on their Instagram and X pages.