Editor’s note: We’re back with another installment of Wolf of the MCLA! Thanks to the support of Wolf Athletics, we’re selecting, interviewing, and honoring impressive student-athletes who are competing in the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association throughout the 2014-15 college lacrosse season. Each new member of the “Wolf Pack” receives a Ghost shaft as an award for his accomplishments. We hope you enjoy![mks_separator style=”solid” height=”4″]
The newest Wolf of the MCLA to join The Pack is Matt Buening, the local Charlotte product that returned home to lead the University of North Carolina-Charlotte 49ers men’s lacrosse team.
Matt is a 5th year by the books, but he’s heading into his senior year of eligibility after he sat out his transfer season from Virginia Tech. This kid is a Dyson for ground balls and a work horse on the field like no other.
Coaches have said this kid was snubbed of an All-American status in 2014 and that just might be motivation Matt needs to take the MCLA by storm this season.
Division II and up, it’s nearly impossible to find a midfielder that can out-hustle Matt Buening. His wolf-like tenacity, speed, and determination makes us proud to add him to The Pack! Get to know the Wolf in Charlotte below.[mks_separator style=”solid” height=”4″]
Matt Buening – Wolf of the MCLA
Full Name: Matt Buening
Key Stats: 1st Team SELC, 49 Ground Balls and 29 Goals in 2014.
College: University of North Carolina at Charlotte (MCLA Division II)
High School: Charlotte Catholic (NC)
LAS: When you aren’t playing lacrosse, what are your hobbies off of the field?
Buening: When I’m not at school or playing lacrosse, I’m either at the gym of playing golf at the course where I work.
Do you play any other sports?
In high school I ran cross country and indoor track where I actually made it to States for both of them.
I really didn’t want to do that in college, running after high school would be way too much work and it’s not as exciting as lacrosse is.
Favorite shoes in your collection?
Right now I’m living extremely close to a bowling alley here in Charlotte so I’d have to say me brand new Brunswick bowling shoes.
They look like casual sneakers and I love them.
What’s your idea of a perfect meal?
Also right up the street from me is a really good sushi place that has a$10 all you can eat lunch buffet.
It sounds sketchy but it actually has some pretty legit sushi and I think it’s amazing, I go at least once or twice a month.
What is your pre-game ritual (if any)?
I’m a big fan of satellite radio and BPM is my go-to. I throw the music on typically two hours before the game. I like EDM, but it’s got to have words.
Next, I do up the war paint on the face, the upside down triangles are a must. Once I’m done I drink a little C4 and I’m ready to roll.
What is one thing you wish the world would understand about you?
Size in lacrosse doesn’t matter. Like me, you don’t have to be big to excel.
To me, lacrosse is about speed, effort and stick skills. I’m not biggest guy on the field but I get all of the ground balls because no one will try harder than I will.
Do you consider yourself a lone wolf, leader of the pack, or committed teammate?
When I started out at Virginia Tech, I simply just filled my role on the team. Once I made the transfer to UNCC, I quickly found myself becoming the leader of the pack.
This was the first time I has a star role on my lacrosse team since JV, having played with Matt Sawyer and other All-Americans in high school. I love the opportunity to be a big fish in a small pond and it makes me work harder to make the team better.
How many years have you been playing lacrosse and where did you find your start?
I found lacrosse in the 4th grade. Some of my soccer teammates played in a rec. league and my brother and I really wanted to try it out.
We figured lacrosse was too expensive, but our PE coach gave us free equipment to get started and the rest was history! I’ve been playing lacrosse ever since and so has my brother, who served as the President of the club at ECU when he was there.
What made you choose to come back home and play for the 49ers?
I loved spending my first two years of school at Virginia Tech and Coach Schroeder is the man, we still keep up.
Out of state tuition became way too brutal and I needed to sit out of lacrosse my sophomore year to focus on my grades.
Charlotte really was just an easy transfer transition. The school is really close to home and a few of my high school friends transferred the same semester. It was the best fit at the time and I’m glad it worked out.
How do you describe your playing style on the field?
I am really finesse oriented and with my cross country background I am never tired on the field. You typically have to drag me to the sidelines to take a break.
I think that because of my endurance and tenacity on both sides of the ball I have made myself into one of the best all around middies in the MCLA.
I am on the field when we score and if I’m not the one doing it, I’m likely the one that forced the turnover that got us there.
I am also fundamentally a two handed player. I absolutely love to set up a run with my left after taking a few righty reps. Most people play me as a strict righty, so I love to grasp an opportunity to use my left hand, which is just about as good as my right.
Last year you earned 1st Team All-SELC as a Junior, what are your goals for 2015?
I think the team’s goal is to beat Elon, who we play every year but haven’t come out on top in a while. It’s time for us to win that game and win the conference. After that I think it’s all about getting to Nationals just to have fun and not take the game too seriously.
How do you plan to help lead the Niners in 2015 as a staple of the team’s offense?
This year I’ll be trying to average at least 3 assists a game. We have a lot of incoming talent that’s better than what has graduated in past seasons. Our team is so much better, so now is the time.
I’ll be fighting to make my teammates better players and if that starts with getting every ground ball, so be it. I just love ground balls.[mks_separator style=”solid” height=”4″]
Congratulations to Matt, and a special thanks to Coach Tobias and the UNCC 49ers for nominating him as a Wolf of the MCLA!