By Lane Fahey
There are two things you can count on in early February: Punxsutawney Phil looking for his shadow and the beginning of men’s lacrosse season at Furman.
The Paladins began their season against the University of Vermont Catamounts Thurs. Feb. 2. Despite an impressive offense attack, the Paladins lost 13 to 12 in overtime.
At one point in the first half, Furman had a 7 to 2 lead, but Vermont was able to come back and tie it in the fourth quarter. With 35 seconds left, sophomore midfielder William Holcomb scored to break the tie. However, the Catamounts were able to tie it back up with only 13 seconds remaining, sealing Vermont’s overtime win. Both Holcomb and senior attacker Graham Dabbs had hat tricks in the game.
The Paladins will play six other non-conference teams this season. One of these teams is UNC, the reigning NCAA champions. Furman played UNC last year too, losing 14 to 6.
The team will end the season with seven conference games, including four at home.
After a two win season last year, the upperclassmen on the team wanted to start the season on a strong note. Different than years’ past, this is the first year the lacrosse team will have a full team, with all four classes on the roster.
“It feels like we have a whole unit and that’s something we haven’t had before,” captain Jon Vandenberg, class of ‘17, said.
This season is a special one to the seniors on the team, as they helped build men’s lacrosse at Furman from scratch as freshmen.
“We all want it to work out in the end, and this is our last season of lacrosse… so it’s a big season for us,” Vandenberg said.
Vandenberg also claims while he has always focused on academics at Furman, this semester he is “majoring in lacrosse.”
Another important part of Vandenberg’s final season is the fact that he will be wearing a new number.
Their senior year of high school, Kip Taviano and Vandenberg had plans to play as a part of “Class 1”, the first class of lacrosse at Furman. Taviano passed away in a car wreck in May of 2013. The No. 10 was later retired in Taviano’s honor, until now.
This season, Vandenberg will wear No.10, in honor of his “lifelong friend.”
“Wearing the 10 means everything to me because I came to Furman with the goal of keeping his name alive with Class 1,” Vandenburg said. “Every time I put number 10 on in practice or a game I think of him and it’s an honor to wear that number. So, ending my career wearing his number couldn’t be any more fitting.”
The No.10 will now be passed down to a senior every year.
Despite being ranked sixth in the Southern Conference coaches’ preseason poll, there is still determination to win the SoCon Championship.
“We have nothing to lose. We can play as hard as we want and if no one expects anything from us, it’s kind of dangerous honestly if they don’t take us seriously,” said junior attacker Jonah Moore. “It’s going to be an exciting season.”
Bouncing back from a broken wrist last season, Moore had rehab all summer long but he “overcame it and feel better than ever now.”
As the men’s lacrosse team has a fresh start for this season, a championship is on their minds.
“Everyone on our team wants to win a conference championship,” Moore said. “That’s been the goal the past two years and it hasn’t really worked out and I don’t think the work ethic has been there as much as it needs to be, but I really think this year we’ve all gone all in so we’re hoping to achieve that goal.”
The Paladins’ next home game is Sat., Feb. 11 at 12 p.m. against UNC. The team will then be on the road for two games to finish out the first month of the season.