The Ithaca College men’s lacrosse team was just three weeks into its much-anticipated 2020 campaign. The Bombers had just scored one of the biggest wins in the 50-plus year history of the program over Cabrini – the defending 2019 National Champions – in an 11-9 triumph at Higgins Stadium to kick off Spring Break. Six days later, it all came to a shocking halt.
As any athlete would attest, a season never truly begins with the opening faceoff of the first official contest, but rather during a long preseason that effectually began for IC Men’s Lacrosse with the commencement of the non-traditional season in the early fall. Several weeks of honing skills and, perhaps more importantly, gelling together both new faces and returners served as the first building blocks to what was expected to be a resurgent season for the Bombers after missing out on the NCAA Tournament a season ago. The anticipation only intensified when preseason practice officially got underway following the return of students to campus from Winter Break. At that time, the novel coronavirus – which would come to be known as COVID-19 – was wreaking its sinister havoc half a world away, but was hardly on the radar for most of us here in the United States. Little did we know the unprecedented impact it would have, not just on athletics this Spring, but truly how we live our daily lives.
Senior captain Aaron McCartney, an integral part of IC’s defense dating back to his freshman season on South Hill in 2017, was set for one final run at Liberty League Championship this spring. An All-Liberty League Second Team honoree during the Bombers run to the 2018 Liberty League Championship Game, McCartney was bullish on the team’s potential to turn some heads this season.
Heading into the first team meeting of the year in late August, our senior class was not really sure what to expect out of the upcoming season. We were a very young team – just six of us seniors – and well over half the squad holding underclassmen eligibility. However, as the year progressed, our senior class quickly realized how special and talented of a team we had. This team was the most fun, hard-working, and competitive squad I had ever played with.
At the other end of the spectrum was first-year attacker Jake Erickson, who was excited to take the field for the first time as a collegiate student-athlete in 2020.
Coming into this year, my main goal was to be able to contribute to the team in any way I could. The main thing that incoming freshman are told after they graduate High School is that College Lacrosse is multiple steps faster than what they have been used to and Ithaca was certainly no exception… Early on, it was clear that everyone on the team can play at this high level of lacrosse, so I needed to work twice as hard if I was ever to see the field. I thought the fall preseason was a good indicator of where we were at as a team and that we really gelled together right off the bat. This only built my anticipation for the real season to begin.