[img id="80567" align="alignleft"] For most Maroon teams, home games on the sparkling new fields behind Ratner are the norm. For the men’s and women’s lacrosse clubs, tonight will mark a rare chance to showcase their skills under the lights of Stagg Field.
Hosting Northwestern’s club teams in a season finale doubleheader, the lacrosse squads will get their own taste of Friday night lights tonight as they face off against the Wildcats.
Before Stagg’s renovation, part of the rationale behind the new facility was that the new, durable turf would allow club and intramural sports to access the stadium. After the lights went up and the turf was laid down, fourth-year John Connor, captain of the men’s squad, came up with the idea of a joint event that would give both teams the chance to show off in front of a home crowd. His brainchild will mark the first time a club has taken advantage of the opportunity.
“Last year when Bernie DelGiorno announced the renovation for Stagg Field, I knew that before I graduated I wanted this team to experience a night under the lights,” said Connor.
Now, the event has made the jump from dream to reality for Connor and the club members.
“We’re really excited to be playing at Stagg,” said third-year Chris Powers, “and we feel honored that the men’s and women’s lacrosse clubs are the first to play there. We hope that more club teams will be able to utilize it in the future.”
For club sports that often struggle for funding, practice space, and recognition, the lacrosse teams hope tonight will serve as vindication. With spring varsity sports winding down, the games should be an ideal chance for the clubs to share some of the spotlight.
“We always host our own home tournament early spring quarter on the Midway,” said second-year Molly Turner, “but a Friday night under the lights is what we’ve always wanted.”
After spending the winter scrambling for space at Ratner and Henry Crown, the shift to Stagg will be a marked one for the women’s club, which often had to march through the cold to its practices in the Lab School gymnasium.
Since the arrival of spring weather, the squad has been practicing daily on the Midway. Putting up a 5–5–1 record at various tournaments, including a road trip to Kentucky, the women’s squad ended its official season two weeks ago at the University of Illinois tournament, where they beat Northwestern 7–4.
“We usually see Northwestern several times throughout the season,” said Turner, “and our current seniors have never lost to them. As for Friday’s game, it’s our last one of the season, and our first one under the lights, so we expect a lot from ourselves, and we’re ready to play some great lacrosse.”
Also taking on the Wildcats this spring, the men’s team topped their crosstown rivals 6–3 two weeks ago and is hoping for a bigger win tonight with a full roster at their disposal.
The road to tonight’s game has been an equally difficult one for the men’s club, which reformed three years ago and after years of low numbers and losing streaks, are having their first winning record with a 7–1 mark on the year.
“It’s amazing how far the club has come,” said third-year Chris Powers, “from all of the behind-the-scenes planning and sports-club meetings in Ratner to get enough funding to buy balls and pay for refs, to now playing at Stagg Field on a Friday night.”
If a higher power keeps thunderstorms at bay, the two squads will get to measure their progress when the women kick things off at 7 p.m., followed by the men at 9 p.m. The clubs will sponsor a barbecue between games.