The St. Thomas men’s lacrosse team got off to the right start in defending its national title last weekend by defeating Grand Valley State University and Lindenwood University-Belleville at Concordia University in St. Paul.
The Tommies defeated Grand Valley State 12-8 Saturday night, who they won against two years ago in the national championship, and earned a 17-2 win over Lindenwood Sunday morning.
Coach Peter Moosbrugger, who is entering his 12th season as the Tommies’ coach, said depth is the strongest aspect of this team.
“This is the deepest team we have ever had,” Moosbrugger said. “We got freshman coming in with great lacrosse IQ already. It’s not been so much about teaching them the game of lacrosse as it’s teaching more about Tommie lacrosse. That really is our strength.”
One player to watch for the Tommies is captain, midfielder and Lacrosse Magazine’s preseason player-of-the-year Will Hersman. Hersman has 86 total points, including 63 goals, in 55 career games.
Hersman said he thinks the team is well rounded, but if he had to pick the strongest position for a team, the midfielders would be it.
“I think we are really strong across the board,” Hersman said. “If I had to pick out an area – and I’m a little biased, since I’m a midfielder myself – but we’ve got a lot of upperclassmen that have come back in the midfield.”
However, the Tommie midfield backed up Hersman’s claims in their games this weekend. Midfielder Matt Kleven led the team with six goals over the weekend and midfielder Peter Schubloom had seven assists between the two games.
Although it’s early in the season, the Tommies already know what game is circled on their schedule. Familiar foe St. John’s will host St. Thomas on April 11. The Johnnies were ranked No. 2 in the preseason polls, and backed it up by also earning two dominant wins over Grand Valley State and Lindenwood-Belleville
Last season, the Tommies defeated the Johnnies 9-6. Moosbrugger said he knows St. John’s is always going to give St. Thomas a tough game.
“The big game is always St. Thomas-St. Johns,” Moosbrugger said. “It’s maximized this year because we’re No. 1 and they’re No. 2, but regardless, we could be No. 15 and they could be No. 1 and that game is going to be competitive.”
However St. Thomas also has bigger goals than just defeating St. John’s. Above all: a repeat national championship. Midfielder and captain Joe Palermo said he just wants to keep it simple, and that team just needs to stay focused on their goals.
“We know our goals, and we’re going to make sure we get there at the end of the year,” Palermo said.
The Tommies will play next in a March 21-23 series in Fort Wayne, Ind. St. Thomas is scheduled to play Savannah College of Art and Design, University of Dayton and Indiana Institute of Technology.
Jesse Krull can be reached at email@example.com.