The Ithaca College men’s lacrosse team has been preparing for its 2023 season since missing out on the postseason last October on a last-second goal, falling to No. 16 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
With a tough Liberty League conference ahead of them, the Bombers are looking to establish themselves as top dogs in this year’s league and to hopefully make it to the championship game. The Liberty League is one of the toughest and most competitive leagues in Division III men’s lacrosse, with the current champion being Rochester Institute of Technology and runner-up Union College.
This year, the Bombers have 29 returning players — including six fifth-year students — along with 16 new faces. The Bombers have a sixth-year newcomer from SUNY Plattsburgh, goalkeeper Christian Bassi.
Head coach Jeff Long said the first-year students have been working hard to show that they deserve the time to play and how committed they are to the team.
“The freshmen have acclimated really quickly, so I don’t feel as though there is a huge separation in terms of confidence,” Long said. “They are not where they need to be yet, but I like the level they are at.”
Long said the energy levels have been great and he has no complaints so far in preparing for the team’s first game. He feels as though the players have shown dedication and strength.
“We really haven’t faced any adversity yet, but in terms of the work rate, and focusing and being on time, the listening skills and all those other things have been really positive so far,” Long said.
Long said he wants his team to show effort and consistency throughout this season. He said the biggest thing his team needs this year is to make it through all four frames.
“Our goal is to really put up a strong 60 minutes of the game,” Long said. “Our issue last year was we lost three or four games in the fourth quarter … that were key games that could have gotten us into the tournament.”
After a strong 2022 season, senior attackman Jake Erickson is expecting a big year for the Bombers. Last year, Erickson was named to the Liberty League All-Academic Team and All-Liberty League First Team. This year, Erickson said he plans to lead his team in establishing a strong foundation and finishing the fourth quarter strong.
“Accountability and effort is what I want to be different this year,” Erickson said. “This year, we can kick up more, be more accountable for each other, and I can already see that happening, along with all the effort the team is showing.”
Erickson also said that this year, the offense is much more complex, elaborate and by far the toughest he has seen so far in his career with the Bombers. With that tough offense comes sophomore midfielder, Chase Gulick. Gulick is one of the Bombers’ face-off midfielders and said he has been training hard to have a successful season.
“[Sophomore midfielder and faceoff] Chris Sohl and myself have been working hard to do the best we can,” Gulick said. “I really want to get to the championship this year, and I feel like I speak to the whole team when I say that.”
Erickson said he feels as though preseason has been good, even if there were a couple of bumps early on. Regardless, he is anticipating a strong season for the team and is hoping to make a splash.
“I think we are going to be a pretty tough team to beat,” Erickson said. “We are in really good shape I think in terms of players listening and learning.”
The Bombers are already through two games this season but will return to Higgins Stadium at noon March 4 for a matchup with SUNY Geneseo.