“Ball down!”

The call echoes across the field outside the Wade King Student Recreation Center as the Vikings men’s lacrosse team spars itself on a Tuesday evening.

A lone attackman in full gear walks from behind the goal and faces his defensive opponent. Quickening his pace he begins his drive, but is met with two sharp checks by the defensive players’ longpole. Undeterred, the attackman steps back then charges again, only to be roughly shoved back by his opponent. Seizing the moment the offensive players makes a spin move, beats his fellow man and tosses the ball to a rapidly approaching midfielder. Catch, aim, shoot. Goal. The drill begins again.

The men’s lacrosse team may only be a club sport, but it’s not one to miss. With bone jarring hits, sharp stick checks, high speed gameplay and baseball-like ball speed, men’s lacrosse is like hockey, football and basketball all rolled into one.

Training in below freezing temperatures and body-moving winds has made Western’s athletes even tougher and physically elite.

“We’d welcome anyone into this weather,” said head coach Adam Lent. “We want everyone to come here and play, this is our home field.”

Last year, the Vikings went five and seven in their regular season, but were invited to participate in the Pacific Northwest Collegiate Lacrosse League Playoffs. They won one game against Southern Oregon, but eventually lost against Western Oregon.

Mindful of their prior season, this year’s Vikings are eager to make a winning legacy.

“I think we’re going to do really well. We got a good group of guys. Last year we missed the mark, but this year I think we got what it takes,” said junior defensive-midfield Skyler Bridgeman.

The Vikings have already played one losing game against Simon Frasier University in Canada, but the game served as a testament to the nature of play they are willing to put up. Down by nine in the first quarter, the team eventually pulled it together to settle with a 16 – 9 loss.

“There’s a lot of great players on our team. I mean you win as a team, you lose as a team. All I ask is that they show up and make a play that they’re capable of making,” Lent said.

The team is scheduled to play Western Oregon on March 8, along with the rest of the Northwest Northern Division and other teams like University of California San Diego through to the end of April or May depending on playoffs. 

“It’s a pretty good veteran team right now, but we also have a bunch of new players with pretty good skill sets. Western Oregon should be pretty interesting though, at least those guys who have a bit of a chip on their shoulder,” said senior goalie Cort Anderson. “We just threw in a new zone defense, which seems to do pretty well, so hopefully that will work against them.”

The team’s head coach said one of the team’s strongest attributes is its tenacity.

“These guys, their spirit to want to win, you can’t recreate that,” Lent said. “Anyone that wants to come out there, we would love to see them. We always want a crowd.”