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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

No. 7 Arizona lacrosse found major success this season

Arizona+midfielder+Matt+Lai+%2816%29+leads+the+offense+against+Utah+in+Tucson+on+Feb.+14.+The+Laxcats+have+found+a+lot+of+success+this+season+and+are+ranked+seventh+in+the+nation.+
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Arizona midfielder Matt Lai (16) leads the offense against Utah in Tucson on Feb. 14. The Laxcats have found a lot of success this season and are ranked seventh in the nation.

You can find the Arizona men’s lacrosse team out on the field on a Tuesday night running drills, watching film and preparing for its next game.

The Laxcats, led by head coach Derek Pedrick, have performed well this season, coming in at No. 7 in the country on the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association polls this week.

“The guys have been working hard and have really good attitudes,” Pedrick said. “The culture is continuing to change.”

The culture Pedrick mentioned is something he wanted to change when he came to Arizona back in 2013. He wanted to make sure his athletes remained serious, focused and competitive, while also having fun throughout the process.

Senior goalkeeper Tanner Knego couldn’t agree more with his head coach.

“The mentality change, you can tell right away … is just that we’re here to win games.” Knego said. “I think when it’s best shown this year is when everyone is buying into that.”

It would seem the team is having no problems buying into it.

Not only does its coach have high expectations, but the juniors and seniors on the team have expectations of themselves as well.

Between the accountability at both ends, underclassmen are taking the game seriously and putting in the hard work it takes to get victories. In addition to a new mentality, the Laxcats are also excelling defensively this season.

“Defense is strong; there aren’t a lot of goals given up,” Pedrick said. “Tanner is a first-team All-American and returning three-year starter. He’s done a good job of shutting down other offensive players.”

Knego also mentioned how effective the team has become defensively.

“Defensively, we communicate very well,” Knego said. “Part of that is because we have so many seniors out there and we’ve played together, so it’s just comfortable out there.”

The Laxcats proved the force it can be in a 16-5 win against Boston College. The Laxcats also recently pulled away from Boise State, but did fall in a scrimmage against Westminster College and a match against UNLV.

When all the right pieces come together and everyone is working hard, the team can be dangerous and potentially one of the best club teams in the country.

The program has a long history in Tucson, dating back to the 1960s. The Laxcats were only the second sanctioned collegiate program in the western U.S., following suit after the Air Force Academy, according to the Laxcats website.

As the season nears its end, the team is focused on continuing to get wins against their next two opponents, Grand Canyon University and ASU.

“As cliche as it sounds, the little things are going to get us in positions to take care of these games,” Pedrick said. “Every team we play is a top-ranked team, so understanding the right mentality is important.”


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