This is the third part in a series of articles about former MCLA teams primed for a comeback. Click the links to read about Weber State and UNLV. Today we ask the question, what happened to the Louisiana at Lafayette lacrosse program?
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns lacrosse team was founded in the fall of 2010 by Byrnes Tatford (current Head Coach of St. Thomas More in Lafayette) and 15 other players. They were able to play in the 2011 MCLA season under the helm of head coach Courtland Jacob. The team finished 1-7, which is usually how it goes for first year teams.
The following year they stayed at around the same size but turned their record round to 9-6 with new head coach Pat Price. The offense was led by Hunter Stinson (32G, 25A) and Ashton Langlinais (36G, 11A, 75% FO) from Lafayette powerhouse St. Thomas More along with Nick Russell (32G, 11A) from Indiana powerhouse Carmel High School.
Eric Giesemann from Brother Martin in New Orleans held down the defense was named 1st Team All-Conference. They finished the season second in LSA DII. The following year they made the jump to LSA DI which led to a 3-7 record but increased in roster size which is always a plus for an MCLA team.
2014 saw former Alabama star Cliff White take over as head coach after being an assistant with the team since 2011. The team finished 6-8 in their second year as a Division I team. Their offense became more balanced with the help of freshmen Tanner Castagna and Manny Duhon. On defense Eric Giesemann continued to dominate and freshman Kyle Manning stepped up. The next year they finished 4-10 however the team had grown to 26 with only two players not from the state, which is a big deal for a state that’s not traditionally big into lacrosse.
The biggest season in team history came in 2016 which started with the hiring of Jefferson Nichol as head coach. Born in Hamilton, Ontario he played college football at Colgate before being drafted 45th overall in the CFL in ’94. He retired from football in ’03 and then went on to join the 2004 NLL Champs, Toronto Rocks.
They dropped down to LSA DII and had 31 players on the roster. They finished 13-4 and won the LSA DII Conference Championship in only their sixth season after starting the team from scratch. They had 10 players with 20+ points on offense led by Tanner Castagna (47G, 27A) and Nick Midboe (11G, 50A). Ashton Langlinais had 41 points and went 80% at the faceoff. Eric Giesemann was named Defensive Player of the Year with 77 GBs, 15 goals, and 4 assists. Unfortunately, the 2015 LSA DII Champs turned down their bid to Nationals thus taking away the 2016 LSA DII AQ bid meaning the team could not go to Nationals.
In 2017, the Louisiana at Lafayette lacrosse program got a new head coach in Keith Schneider, but didn’t lose their stride. They finished 11-3, won the LSA DII again and went to Nationals in Irvine, CA. Despite a great effort the Ragin Cajuns bowed to Concordia Irvine in the first round. Brother Martin standout, Edwin Pigeon, led the team in scoring with 40 goals and 23 assists that season.
2018 saw the biggest drop in numbers. Many players, including some of their best, graduated and the team was only left with 18. Edwin Pigeon (28G, 24A), Ben Larriviere (28G, 9A), and Grant Hartman (5G, 12A, 60GB) lead the team to an 8-5 record, but the team was unable to complete the LSA DII threepeat. The next year numbers slightly improved, but the team only ended up playing eight games going 4-4.
Former Cajun star Grant Hartman became head coach for the 2020 season. Numbers were looking really good with 27, and the team got off to a decent 3-4 start ending with an 8-5 win over Georgia Southern on March 7th, the team’s last game ever at this point.
The good news is that after talking to some Louisiana at Lafayette lacrosse alumni, I found that there currently is a group of students working on restarting the team, and that things are going well so far.