After losing to three-time defending champion Minnesota-Duluth twice this season, the University men’s club lacrosse team needed a little motivation heading into the Upper Midwest Lacrosse League championship tournament May 1 and 2.
Who knew the motivation would be found on the way to the bathroom?
While playing in a tournament in Duluth earlier in the season, a few players picked up a copy of the Duluth student newspaper during a bathroom break. They read a quote by a Duluth player saying Minnesota has “always talked the talk, but never walked the walk.”
Minnesota players took offense to the remarks that implied they were consistently the preseason favorite, but could never finish the job by winning the league championship.
“That ticked us off,” said sophomore attacker Jason Trine, who netted 24 goals this season to lead Minnesota.
It must have done more than tick the team off, because Minnesota dominated previously undefeated Duluth to win the UMLL championship game 10-7. The team finished with a 13-2 record.
“We were more determined,” Trine said. “We wanted it more.”
Senior co-captain midfielder Matt Kolling said the success did not come easy. The season started off rocky, but as the year wore on the team started to gel, he said.
“We knew we had better talent on paper,” Kolling said. “We needed to put that talent together and play as a team.”
Minnesota’s lineup was stacked with five of the top 10 scorers in the league, including co-captain Sidney Jones, who tallied 23 goals and 14 assists as the league’s second-leading scorer.
The lineup also included freshman goalie John Bidon, who had played goalie in hockey but never in lacrosse before the season started. Bidon held opponents to 49 goals for a 4.08 goals against average, the fourth-best in the league.
Kolling said Bidon, who was named the championship game’s most valuable player, was a key to overcoming Minnesota-Duluth.
“Their goalie had the edge coming into the tourney,” Kolling said. “But (Bidon) outplayed him.”
Coach Chris Larson said physical conditioning and confidence led Minnesota to the UMLL championship.
“(The players) came together and played as a team,” Larson said. Larson was confident going into the championship game against Duluth, even though Minnesota had lost the first two meetings.
“It was going to be hard for them to beat us three times,” Larson said.
Kolling credited Larson for preparing the team for a tough game against Duluth.
“He found a way to get everybody involved,” Kolling said. “He showed confidence in the entire team.”
Larson said next season will be a challenge and a step forward as Minnesota becomes affiliated with the United States Lacrosse Intercollegiate Associates. Larson said losing eight seniors will be a “big loss,” but he is confident next year will be a success.
“We have a good core of players who can and will step up,” Larson said.