When Matthew MacKnight, ’16 , came to Allegheny, there was no men’s lacrosse program so he created one.
A defenseman for the men’s lacrosse team, MacKnight is the vice president of the new club sport established at Allegheny in 2013.
“My freshman year in 2012, I was one of five players who were really dedicated to getting a lacrosse club established because we all shared a great passion for the game,” MacKnight said, “We would take whatever court time Bill Ross had available, which usually ended up being at 6 a.m. on weekdays.”
MacKnight said that it was tough to wake up for practice with only five other people, but the team was determined to prove that their days of playing competitively were not over after high school.
After completing its one-year requisite probationary period, the men’s lacrosse team began competing in 2013 against other local colleges. This spring the men’s lacrosse team has and will participate in a total of five tournaments. Two of these tournaments are held at Allegheny.
“The furthest we’ve traveled is three hours to Lock Haven University because they were hosting a free tournament. Otherwise we try not to schedule games more than two hours away,” MacKnight said.
MacKnight first knew the game was for him in middle school.
“Lacrosse is known as ‘the fastest game on two feet’ which was evident when I watched my first live game,” MacKnight said.
MacKnight started his lacrosse career as a defenseman in high school.
“I was attracted to the defensive side of the game because of the six-foot pole a defender wields, and the possibilities of destruction that were implied by that size,” said MacKnight.
Despite having limited experience with lacrosse going into high school, MacKnight earned a spot on the varsity team.
“Being thrown into the fire in that way made me learn very quickly about the intricacies of the game,” MacKnight said.
MacKnight wanted to continue playing lacrosse in college but could not find the school that supported all of his needs.
“I could not find the perfect college that matched my lacrosse, academic and social desires, so I came to Allegheny with the intention of maybe finding some kids to throw around with. I was not expecting to help start a club, but now I can’t imagine my college experience without playing competitively with my current teammates,” MacKnight said.
Evan Haines, ’17, is also a player for the men’s lacrosse team and acknowledged MacKnight’s contributions to the team.
“He is a big leader on the field,” said Haines, “He’s also quick so he can stay in front of kids.”
MacKnight’s teammates consist of 22 Allegheny students.
“Our average attendance on game day is only about 11 players. It takes 10 to field a full team so we are usually left with just one sub compared to our opponents who generally have more depth,” MacKnight said. “We make up for our lack of depth by having very talented players who have been playing for most of their life, and can effectively mentor our teammates who are new to the game.”
Madison Meehan, ’17, attended the team’s last home game.
“Despite having one sub, all of the guys were still in sync and working hard. They definitely are passionate for the game,” Meehan said.
MacKnight said that he is excited to have founded a club that will continue even after he graduates next year. The team’s next game will be on Saturday, April 25, at 8 p.m. at Penn State Behrend.