The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


SMU’s club lacrosse team to play at Texas Stadium

Club team makes it to the Final Four in conference tournament

The SMU men’s lacrosse team has gone from recruiting players at the Freshmen Activities Fair to knocking on the door of the Lone Star Alliance Conference Championship, all in the span of several years.

This weekend, the Mustangs have a chance to trump the two most storied programs in the conference, which boasts the top club teams from Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, and throw a coming out party at one of the biggest venues in the Lone Star State.

SMU will face the Texas Longhorns at Texas Stadium, the 65,000-seat home of the Dallas Cowboys, Friday at 8 p.m. in the conference tournament’s semifinals. With a victory on Friday, the Mustangs would likely face Texas A&M, the No. 15 team in the nation, in the championship on Saturday. The Aggies play North Texas in the other semifinal game.

“The program has grown tremendously over the last several years,” said head coach Tom Greene, who competed on SMU’s lacrosse team from 2002 to 2006. He and fellow teammate Chip Heimenz, who is the assistant coach and defensive coordinator, took the reigns after they graduated and have guided the Mustangs to two consecutive winning seasons.

This year’s top seed is the first in the program’s history and the Mustangs’ first berth in the conference tournament’s Final Four in five years.

“This is a great opportunity to showcase lacrosse, to showcase our team and to showcase the state,” said junior co-captain Jon Daugherty, who is a second-team All-Conference defender.

Despite many injuries to their starting lineup, the Mustangs fought their way to a 12-4 regular-season record and a 6-0 mark in the conference’s North Division. However, they are 0-2 this season against the Aggies and the Longhorns, who are in the South Division.

Greene said that he expects better results this weekend, mainly because the Mustangs have improved their “Lacrosse IQ.” SMU’s loss to Texas A&M was in the season opener, and Texas defeated the Mustangs just two weeks later. SMU is 10-2 since then, and has battled through the losses of its senior co-captain, starting goalie and two midfielders.

Early in the season, attackman Michael Carrington, the only senior on SMU’s 44-man roster, suffered from his fifth or sixth concussion of his career, according to Greene, and decided to hang up his spikes for good.

Sophomore goalkeeper David Perrin broke his leg in a March 28 loss at Georgia Tech and likely won’t return until the fall. The Mustangs lost sophomore Mike Taylor to a torn ACL in the same match. To cap the list of injuries, SMU junior midfielder Taylor Manning broke his foot in a late-season match.

Greene, however, has remained confident in his team because of its depth, which he said has increased dramatically in recent years. That depth helped the Mustangs avoid a late-season collapse after a grueling road trip.

After their late-March tour through the Southeast (matches at Mississippi, Georgia and Georgia Tech), the Mustangs returned home and won their last two matches by a combined three goals. They defeated rival Texas Christian, 5-4, in Fort Worth on April 10 and squeaked by North Texas, 11-9, last Friday in their regular season finale.

“We’ve had to go through a lot of challenges this season, but we’re definitely peaking at the right time,” said Daugherty, who has led the Mustangs’ defense this spring after having his 2007 season cut short by an ACL injury. Greene said that Daugherty has had “by far his best season” at SMU.

The Mustangs’ offensive attack is led by sophomore Tolar Hamblen, who is tied with Manning for the team-high in goals (28) and has tallied eight assists. Greene lauded Hamblen, a third-team All-Conference attacker, for his handling ability and his penchant for dodging defenders.

Sam Sawyer, a junior, is an honorable-mention All-Conference midfielder. He leads the team with 10 assists and is third in points, with 18.

“Other teams usually have one, two or three good players that will take the ball 90 percent of the time and do all the scoring,” said Greene. “Our team is so talented and has so much depth that we balance each other out.”

Greene has helped develop that balance thanks to much-improved standards in recruiting.

Prior to a couple years ago, recruiting often consisted of setting up a booth at the beginning of the school year to attract players. Now, the Web has helped the program spread its tentacles outside the campus and to the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. Greene said he is recruiting players in California, Florida and Washington D.C.

Once a recruit hears about the program, Greene can now track him down and stay in contact with him by phone and by e-mail. The recruiting rules that varsity sports must work around do not exist at the club level.

“The first three years that I was a player here, a guy came out…and pretty much coached for free,” said Greene. “The players and students had to take care of [recruiting through word-of-mouth]. I really got that down as a player, and I’ve had two solid years to get that under my belt as a coach.”

The team that Greene has worked hard to build has a chance this weekend to break the hard-fast rule that Texas and Texas A&M are the only teams capable of winning the conference title. The odds may not be in their favor, but when have they been in the last two seasons? Greene likes his team’s chances.

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