By WILL ATKINSON
The UMW Men’s Lacrosse season came to a close on a rainy Saturday afternoon in Salisbury, Maryland to the nationally top ranked Salisbury Seagulls. The Eagles were eliminated in the quarterfinal round of the Capital Athletic Conference playoffs after a dominant first round victory over the Frostburg Bobcats.
The Eagle’s regular season was filled with adversity, beginning with a major coaching change over the off-season. First year head coach, Drew Delaney, was tasked with replacing longtime head coach, Kurt Glaeser, who retired after coaching for 27 years. Before coaching for UMW, Delaney coached at Elizabethtown College and began the lacrosse program at Arcadia University.
The Eagles began their season with a tough, 13-9 loss rivaling Hampden-Sydney, eventually finishing the opening month of February with one win and three losses, none of which were conference games.
After surviving the frigid first hump of their regular season the Eagles would face the brunt of their CAC opponents, arguably one of the nation’s premier Division III conferences. Squaring off against a lot of talented teams including nationally ranked York College, Christopher Newport University and Salisbury University.
The Eagles would pass their March tests coming out with an even record of four wins and four losses, combining a season record of four wins and seven losses. The losses came at the hands of York, Salisbury, CNU and a heartbreaking 11-10 loss to Catholic, a game which senior captain Miles Davis believes was the “worst loss of the season.” Despite the tough losses, UMW Eagles pulled off an incredible upset over a previously nationally ranked Washington and Lee team, 16-13.
In the last stretch of the season the Eagles began to find their stride, finishing the regular season with four straight wins over Southern Virginia, St. Mary’s, Frostburg State and Marymount. In the opening round of the CAC playoffs the Eagles would rematch Frostburg and win 11-9. After a great performance by sophomore Eli Ayer, winning 18 out of 23 face-offs. Sadly, the next game the Eagles would lose to the number-one seeded Salisbury Seagulls. The Eagles finished the season with a respectable 9-8 record.
Throughout the 2017 campaign, the Eagles relied heavily on their experienced attack, led by seniors Mike Marson, Drew Carlson and Miles Davis, all three leading the team in goals in that order. Marson led the pack with a whopping 39 goals on the season.
“Overall I think we had a very solid team this year… We had a lot of experience on attack with a great group of middies, young and old,” said Carlson. “Our defense and goalies also stepped up in big ways throughout the season.”
Senior captain, Miles Davis was not always an Eagle. Davis started his collegiate lacrosse career playing for St. John’s University, a Division I program in Philadelphia. “I transferred to move closer to home and get back in Virginia… I am from a small town so Fredericksburg is a lot more comfortable than Philadelphia,” said Davis.
In his third year playing with the Eagles, Davis was given a more limited role on offense but was still able to cap off his senior year leading the team with 55 total points. “Overall I am a better player this year than last year… I had a worse shooting percentage and fewer goals compared to last season but my role changed,” said Davis. “I was more of a facilitator for the offense.”
Next year, the Eagles plan on returning to the CAC playoffs led by a large junior and senior class. The rejuvenated coaching staff will be ready to take the team back to the playoffs.
“Coach Delaney and Coach Gallagher were great, it was a fresh start… They shot some new energy into the lacrosse program,” said Davis. “My prediction is a winning record and a conference semifinal appearance at the least.”