The Mount Allison lacrosse team boasts the smallest roster in its league. But last year a combination of injuries and bad luck threatened not only the season but the entire program.
“We had a hard time getting numbers out, and there were a lot of injuries as well,” fourth-year player Jerica Leblanc said. “I remember spending a half-hour at one of our practices just calling people.”
Nick Scott, a fourth-year player and last year’s player-coach, described the low point of the previous season – when the players questioned if they would continue struggling to keep the team alive.
“We kind of took a vote one practice before a game. It was either ‘try and scramble up some guys and play a game,’ or ‘forfeit.’”
The club was eventually able to find enough players to field a team at the start of this season. Many of the new players had no experience with lacrosse or had not played since they were children.
“We basically started the team from scratch,” Leblanc said.
On the field, the season was tough.
“We lost every game by at least 10 points,” Leblanc said. For the students who were a part of the team last season, however, it wasn’t about the results – it was about saving the program.
Because of their small roster, the lacrosse team routinely looks for students who might not normally get involved with the sport in a university setting. Though finding enough members to form a team has presented difficulties, it has also brought team members together.
The importance of community within the lacrosse team is why Leblanc, currently the only woman playing in the league, got involved at the clubs and societies fair in her first year.
“I was at the women’s rugby table and I turned around and saw ‘Men’s Lacrosse Team,’” she said. Leblanc, who had played lacrosse in high school, did not realize Mt. A had a lacrosse team. She approached the team, expressing enthusiasm for the sport and interest in watching their games. “I was wearing my team NB lacrosse jacket and one of the guys at the table said, ‘why don’t you come out to a practice?’”
“After one or two practices, I was hooked. I was sold. All the guys were super nice,” Leblanc said. “I feel really fortunate at Mt. A because the guys do let me play.”
She referenced situations at UNB and St. FX where women, although not officially barred from playing, have been excluded by the teams. “You wouldn’t want to play with people who don’t want to play with you,” she said.
Going forward, the team looks to build from year to year and now has the means to do so because of their access to Alumni field. Alumni field replaces the undersized Lansdowne field, which was often reduced to mud and could not host a full-sized lacrosse game.
Acquiring access to the new field has meant that the team is now the envy of other teams.
“We are the only ones with lacrosse lines. [On] a lot of other fields the lines are taped on or spray-painted,” Scott said.
Though it may not seem drastic, the new field gives the team – which lacks funding – the ability to attract players from the larger, funded teams at Dalhousie and St. FX.
The lacrosse team is currently 0-6, but with a number of close games, they remain optimistic.
“The scores of our games don’t really reflect the quality of the games we play,” Leblanc said.
Scott said that the team’s goal is to “win a game. There is probably one game left that we can win. That is our last game, against Acadia.”
For a group of students who nearly lost their team, 2016 has proven to be more successful than the previous season. With a full roster and the best field in the league, the graduating players look to finish their careers with a win, in a season that is about so much more than lacrosse.