Lacrosse gaining popularity at college level MMA teams show marked improvement this season

Eyes on the goal

Tori Cooper eyes the goal from midfield during a Mariner women’s lacrosse home game against Lyndon State. Photo by Tony Llerena Photography

CASTINE—After back-to-back seasons with an 0-15 record, the Maine Maritime Academy women’s lacrosse team went 6-7 on the regular season and earned a playoff game in the North Atlantic Conference playoffs against the University of Maine at Farmington on April 28.

The Mariners lost the contest 15-4, but first-year coach Will Mraz said the team more than exceeded expectations from when the season started in March.

“We had a roster of about 14 girls,” said Mraz, noting that the average team in the NAC ranged from 18 to 24 players. “Because of injuries and such, in our final game we were playing with 11 players, and you’re supposed to have 12 on the field.”

The women’s program is now in its third year at Maine Maritime, and while the roster featured some players that had been around the program over the last two seasons, Mraz said there were five players who played the sport for the first time when they took the field this year.

Looking down field

Chase Whittemore carries the ball down the field during a Maine Maritime Academy men’s lacrosse home game. Photo by Tony Llerena Photography

“The thing about lacrosse, and one of the reasons I think it’s becoming a more popular athletic program at the college level, is that the game allows for a lot of different skill levels and different types of athletes. You have to be athletic to play it, but it’s a sport that you sort of pick up the more you play,” he said.

Mraz added that the sport is an exciting sport to watch live, something that has increased the popularity of it at the college level over the last few years. Because the game is constantly moving and changing, it is a dynamic sport that brings an added level of attraction for students interested in attending the college or university.

“I think you’re seeing it a lot more now, especially at the Division III level, because it’s attractive to both athletes and fans of the sport,” said Mraz.

While the women’s program is still in its infancy, the men’s program has been around since 1994. The program has struggled to pull out winning seasons over the last 13 years; however, this year first-year head coach Bob Aronson led his team to a preseason 10-5 win over the University of Maine in Orono and an appearance in the NAC playoffs. That playoff game was an 18-11 loss for the Mariners, who played against the Eagles of Husson University on April 29.

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