By Harlee Lucier
The Purchase men's lacrosse team is starting out their season strong with a 4-1 record, the best the team has seen in years. New coach Daniel Lawrence seems to be bringing a new energy to the team.
Ben Erkan, senior captain said, “Coach Lawrence has boosted the guy's motivation, morale and work ethic. It feels like something is in the air, where the guys are eager to come to practice every day and they are eager to play.”
Lawrence found his passion for coaching in high school, where his father created a girls youth lacrosse team. Lawrence and his friend had to take over coaching when his father had some medical issues. Later Lawrence got his first collegiate coaching position at Pfeiffer University in Misenheimer, N.C. Division II school. Then he was at SUNY Maritime for 14 years leaving as the head lacrosse coach and assistant athletic director. Prior to starting his career with the Panthers, Lawrence led the Division I Monmouth Hawks to win their conference championship.
His decision to leave Monmouth was because it was best for his wife and two children. He previously would travel two hours to and from his coaching at Monmouth and explained it was a struggle for the family. He jumped at the opportunity to work at Purchase College saying, “It’s 20 minutes from home, it’s a conference that I have coached in before. Also, a chance to become a state employee again is always great for someone who has a family.”
His excitement for being back at a state college is because he knows that tuition prices are rising. He wants students to get a good education for a reasonable price.
“I really think that everyone can make a positive impact in the world,” Lawrence said. “I know I’m not going to cure cancer or solve world hunger, but Ben or one of the other guys on the team might figure that out. My job is to find those kids and help them to see that a college education here is going to set them for the future.”
Building the men's lacrosse program is a huge goal for Lawrence. He stressed that there is a need for more recruitment on the team; getting around 40 guys on the roster would help them compete at a higher level. According to Lawrence, starting every game with the same 10 players leads to burn out and injury. A deeper bench would allow more competition in practice for the players to work even harder and that's exactly what Lawrence is looking for.
“When we realize it is not a team, we are developing a program, and it's not just 12 to 2 o’clock when we practice,” he said. “We are a Purchase lacrosse player 24 hours a day seven days a week and we are always trying to make sure when people look at Purchase lacrosse that is the gold standard of the way a lacrosse team should run.”
Establishing the team in the college community is very important to Lawrence; the team has already attended a men's volleyball game together. Lawrence said, “When a recruit does come on campus and bumps into a baseball player, he's like ‘I love those lacrosse guys who go to a couple of home games every year. They know nothing about baseball but they are always yelling, screaming and cheering us on.’”
As the season began to heat up, Erkan said, “A winning season is a big goal for us. Purchase men's lacrosse has never had a winning season before; so, this being my last season, definitely having a winning season is a huge goal, not only for myself but for the team.”
The season certainly did start with a bang after winning their first game by 13 points, Panthers acquired two spots on the Skyline conferences weekly awards. Ben Erkan received offensive player of the week. He stands with eight registered goals, six against Albertus Magnus along with a .750 face of average. Rookie of the week was given to Will Boes, a freshman goalie for the Panthers. He has a .667 save percentage for the first two games; also making 16 saves in the Panthers victory over Mitchell College. The team has not disappointed in their run for this goal hoping to continue their winning streak facing off against Anna Maria College on March 26 at noon.
“There is this new fighting spirit in us this year. That means we are willing to come at anyone, no matter who is lined up across from us, and play our game,” said Erkan.