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October 16, 2013

Making program history

University of Detroit lacrosse program will attempt to build off of first league championship

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

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Pictured is University of Detroit lacrosse player Joe MacLean. Last season, the Titans captured the program’s first-ever league championship.

In the early going, last season didn’t appear to have the makings to be a good one for the University of Detroit Mercy lacrosse team.

After UDM got off to a 0-6 start, it was difficult to find anybody who would have thought the squad was on its way to the most successful season in the history of the program. But as it turns out, by the end of the season, the Titans had accomplished a program-first by capturing a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) championship.

Winning the MAAC tournament automatically qualified UDM for its first NCAA tournament appearance, where the Titans, who were the No. 15 seed, lost in the first round to No. 2 seed Notre Dame 9-7.

Coming away from the season with the program’s first-ever league championship meant something to UDM players.

“It was a wonderful experience,” said head coach Matt Holtz. “They were thrilled. They had a great time. They really enjoyed what they were doing. Even the kids that don’t play a lot had a great time.”

Junior Scott Drummond, who attended Birmingham Seaholm High School, also reflected positively on the Titans’ championship.

“We wanted to send our seniors out with a bit of a bang,” he said. “It was a huge reward making it into the MAAC tournament, and then we kind of just rode our momentum all the way through the tournament. Ended up winning, which was a great feeling.”

The lacrosse program at UDM began in 2009, and making it as far as the NCAA tournament has the potential to have more than just a short-term effect.

“I think we’re advancing,” said Holtz, who has been at the helm since the program’s inception. “We’re improving — getting better every year. Winning a conference championship was a big deal; it helps kind of put us on the map. It’s going pretty well.”

After wrapping up the season last May, the Titans have participated in some practices and scrimmages, and are set to break again later this month before resuming practice during the winter. UDM is scheduled to begin its next campaign in February.

While there is still work that needs to be done to get there, Holtz has big goals for the program.

“Advance the program to the point where we can get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament,” Holtz said of UDM’s long-term goals. “Put ourselves in position to be one of the better teams in the country and not have to worry about an automatic qualifier to get in (to the NCAA tournament). That’s the goal we’re looking for.”

Chris Shevins (Merrick, N.Y), Thomas Sible (Grand Rapids), Alex Maini (Lynbrook, N.Y.) and Tom Masterson (London, Ontario) are the Titans’ team captains.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mark Vest at mvest@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1112. Twitter Follow Mark on Twitter.