As the recruitment for next year comes to a close, the new men’s lacrosse team is ready to join the ranks of Allegheny athletics.
The team was added to the college in 2017 by the Allegheny College Board of Trustees. Since then, arrangements have been made to prepare the team for the spring of 2020.
“I think every team in the conference, except for us, already had men’s lacrosse, and everybody had field hockey,” said Tommy Pearce, men’s lacrosse head coach. “So, I think it was just a matter of Allegheny saying, ‘Let’s have all the sports that all of the other teams in our conference have.’”
Pearce, who comes from Gettysburg College, was interested in the job because he believes Allegheny is similar to Gettysburg. He also said his wife, a Juniata College graduate, believes her former liberal arts institution is like Allegheny.
“We both wanted to get back to the types of colleges that we have gone to ourselves,” Pearce said.
This logic also inspired Assistant Coach Anthony Accardi, a graduate of Washington and Jefferson College, to take the next step in his career.
“I knew Allegheny was a very similar institution to W&J, so when I saw that Allegheny was hiring (for) men’s lacrosse, I was very excited about the opportunity,” Accardi said.
He said Allegheny was the only NCAC institution to not have men’s lacrosse, so when Allegheny finally authorized the installation of the team, it was an incentive for him to accept the job.
The coaches have had their fair share of difficulties during the recruitment process.
“It’s always a challenge because if you’re a young man out there who knows that you want to play Division III lacrosse in college, you’ve never heard of Allegheny’s Division III lacrosse team,” Pearce said.
Pearce elaborated on the difficulty of recruiting people for a startup program and trying to find people who would be excited to play for a brand new team. He said the process requires much more emailing, phone calling and texting to find players who would be a good fit for the team.
“When they do a Google search for Allegheny lacrosse they can’t see our record from last year or what our uniforms or helmets look like,” Pearce said. “Right now, we’re still encouraging some applications. We have a lot of guys who have been admitted that we’re trying to keep in touch with.”
Pearce talked about how he and Accardi spent the last six months reaching out to lacrosse players, high school coaches, club coaches and trying to educate them on what a great opportunity Allegheny is for students and that they are in a great conference for lacrosse.
The challenges do not end with recruitment. The coaches also discussed the difficulty of uniting 25 recruits into one team and the challenges associated with a lack of senior members to help the younger first-years.
“When you’re a program that has existed for a while, you have some upperclassmen that know offensive and defensive systems and stuff like that,” Pearce said. “Nobody is going to know that.”
The coaches’ current goal remains to finish up the recruitment process. Once the roster is finalized, the coaches will begin to unite the men into one unified team.
“I think our first goal is going to be getting everybody on the same page because everybody is going to be coming from a high school where they did different things,” Pearce said. “We have to get everybody on the same page first and foremost, get everybody playing together and then we’ll see how the spring goes.”
The young coaches are anticipating the team’s first round of games in the coming months.
“To have the opportunity to come on at such a young age and get this opportunity to help build a program is pretty exciting and it was just a great opportunity and too good to pass up,” Accardi said.
Even with a young team, the coaches have their sights set on victory in the coming years.
“There are a lot of private liberal arts colleges, like Allegheny, that are highly-ranked academic institutions, and most of those schools are really good at lacrosse,” Pearce said. “We like to put ourselves at the forefront of Division III lacrosse and be a nationally-ranked team and compete to make the NCAC tournament.”