Both the men’s and women’s lacrosse programs have had slow starts in the win-loss totals, but neither program is worried about their record this season. Men’s head coach Jacob Ashton and women’s coach Colin McSharar accepted their positions knowing it would be a while before their teams were competitive on a nightly basis.
As is the case with most start-up teams, it takes a few years of recruiting and developing before the teams have the depth and talent they need. This is the case with the AU lacrosse programs that have both struggled with having enough healthy players to field a full team.
“Numbers have been a big issue for us this year,” said Ashton. “Next year we plan to increase our roster size substantially and hopefully double the number of players on our team. Currently we are on pace to bring in 14 or 15 guys, which will give us the depth we need. Lacrosse is a very physical game, and it really sets us back when we have such a small roster.”
The coaches were not hesitant in scheduling their games either. There were several other start-up teams that the Ravens could’ve played, but instead, the teams wanted to face true competition so their players could see where they will hopefully be in a few seasons.
“Obviously we’d like to have a couple of wins at this point,” said McSharar. “How I scheduled the games for this season was a little bit tougher of a schedule just because I wanted the players to see where different programs are. We play a lot of teams who are in their first few years who have beaten us, but now we can look at those teams and see where we need to be down the road.”
Both squads plan to have very large 2019 recruiting classes come in to bolster their rosters. McSharar said he visited 14 states this year in his efforts to expand the program. He also has eight girls committed for next season with a few more hopefully attending next fall. Ashton has double-digit recruits planning to come to AU. The players are from all around the country with a variety of skills.
The small roster sizes have not been the only issues for the programs. They have worked with inexperienced players and a high number of injuries that have forced them to play with nine players instead of the full ten at times this season.
“We have not been 100 percent healthy in any of our games this year,” added Ashton. “When you have a short roster and you’re competing against teams that have been around for a few years, you really have to grind each and every game and keep working hard. We’re definitely starting to play with confidence and up to the level that we are capable of. That’s difficult to do with so many freshmen on the roster, just because they don’t typically have a lot of experience to warrant that confidence.”
The programs have mustered just one win each, but they are more focused on acclimating their players to college-level lacrosse with a focus on the future of the team.
“This first year the whole team is getting situated and getting used to being a student athlete,” said Ashton. “They understand what our goals are and then from there we can begin to take that next step. Our guys know that the new players coming in are very talented, so they are motivated to keep working hard to lock up their spots. That level of competition within our squad will help us take that next step and grow quicker as a program.”
“I took a really big exception when I was hired on,” said McSharar. “I recruited the class of 2018 and 2019 pretty equally from the start. This is the third time I have started a lacrosse program at the college level, so this isn’t my first race day. I know what I’m doing with this and a few years down the road you will be able to see the fruits of our labor.”
The men’s team sits in fourth place in the HCAC standings despite an 0-4 conference record. Only five teams in the conference currently have lacrosse teams. The women find themselves in the fifth spot out of seven teams. After their first win over Franklin, they are just two games behind conference leading Transylvania.
In addition to larger rosters, the teams plan to expand their schedules and play more games in the upcoming years. While the results have not been there so far this year, the Ravens believe they have the building blocks in place to have successful programs for years to come.