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Men’s lacrosse clinches third place title at conference

May 1, 2008

The UW-River Falls men’s lacrosse team took home a third place trophy from the Great Lakes Lacrosse League (GLLL) conference tournament April 26-27.

The team won their match-up against Lake Forest 7-5 to continue into the next round. In the semifinals, the Falcons lost to the Wisconsin Badgers 7-3.

The Badgers have only lost one game in the past six years, when they lost to UW-Platteville in last year’s championship game. The Badgers took first place in the conference tournament this year.

The Falcon team had secured their position in the championship bracket for the conference tournament with their wins against UW-La Crosse and UW-Stout April 19. In the GLLL, the team with the highest percentage of wins is awarded the Division Championship.

The wins made the Falcons’ division record 6-1 and their overall record 8-2-1. The team had a yearly record of 12-4-1, as it plays both in the fall and the spring. 

Leading up to the GLLL Conference Tournament, the Falcons had some ideas about what to expect.

“Going into the conference tournament, we knew it was going to be a hard competition, but the players on our team have great talent,” team president Blake Ashley said. “I just felt it was our year to make history for River Falls.” 

The men’s lacrosse team’s exceptional season has made UWRF history. The Falcons also had some goals and aspirations going into the conference tournament.

“Our goal was, of course, to win the championship and stay in the tournament as long as possible while competing at maximum performance,” Ashley said.

The team is a fairly young one, only having been founded four years ago by Ashley. He already sees great success for the Falcon men’s lacrosse team, and predicts only bigger and better things for its future.

“Currently I see strong leadership, I see dedication and I see strength, which I believe will propel the team to a championship within the next few years,” Ashley said.

Ashley has already been receiving e-mails from high school lacrosse players in the area looking to continue their lacrosse experience into college. A number of those students have expressed great interest in attending UWRF because of the lacrosse program Ashley pioneered.

Ashley is the only graduating senior from the men’s lacrosse team this year, so he offers a perspective on what lies ahead for the team. The lacrosse program at UWRF and the sport of lacrosse itself have gained popularity and prominence in recent years.

Ashley acknowledges the implications the growing popularity of lacrosse has and he said that next year’s team will be just as strong as this year’s, if not stronger. The incoming freshman can only add to the team’s talent and successes.

The men’s lacrosse team has been awarded three plaques and one trophy since its inception in 2004. The plaques are from the Chicago Machine Invitational and the recent Western Division Championship. The third place finish at the GLLL Conference Tournament awarded the team a plaque and a trophy, but because the UWRF men’s lacrosse program is recognized as a club and not yet as a varsity sport, the awards are not currently displayed on campus.

Ashley said he talked to Chancellor Don Betz about that situation. Betz said that the University would try to find a place to display the awards.

“Even though we’re a club sport, we recognize it as varsity within us,” Ashley said. “I think the team has grown and matured and we’ll compete at the varsity level someday.”