Amy Dierdorff

As the Cal Poly’s men’s intercollegiate lacrosse team prepares for its final two games of the season and the Western Collegiate Lacrosse League (WCLL) playoffs approach, their winning spirit is unwavering, despite the challenge of practice-halting weather.

“We have to remain focused because we haven’t been able to get on any type of grass for a month now,” said Brian Kelly, the team’s president.

Recent heavy rains have soaked the practice fields for the past few weeks and confined players to parking lot drills and watching videos of previous games to keep their skills sharp. An April 8 game at Stanford and an April 15 game against Santa Clara at Cal Poly’s home field will determine their seeding in the playoffs.

“Every week we’re improving in the polls as a team,” Kelly said. “I’m pretty sure we’re going to win the playoffs.”

Cal Poly currently ranks No. 10 in the nation, according to a poll put out yesterday by the U.S. Lacrosse Intercollegiate Association.

“That’s the highest we’ve been all season,” head coach Marc Lea said.

Lea remains confident that, even though the team is missing out on valuable practice time, it’s proven that they have what it takes to make it to the USLIA National Championships in Dallas, Texas this May.

“We have a really good foundation we put in in the fall,” Lea said. ” We’re shooting for a top 5 finish.”

A top-5 finish would be a vast improvement over last year’s national ranking of 21. Last year was the team’s first losing season in more than a decade, due in part to multiple player injuries and the departure of some key graduating seniors.

“We’ve definitely improved a lot from last year,” Kelly said. “We didn’t really know how to play as a team.”

Ryan Herchenroether, head coach for the last two seasons, stepped down to pursue a graduate degree, leaving the spot to the man who previously coached the team for 7 years, Lea. Kelly credits this season’s improvement to Lea, who returned to lead the program this fall, after a two-year hiatus.

“He taught us how to play all together, instead of as individuals.” Kelly said.

Cal Poly beat the No. 7 team, University of Oregon, 14-13 on April 1.

“This last game was really big for us,” Kelly said. “It showed our team that we deserve to go to the nationals.”

But they still faced their share of disappointment this season. Just a day after the victory against Oregon, the team suffered a disappointing loss against No. 2 ranked Sonoma State, 12-7 on April 2.

Despite its struggles, the team is satisfied with this season’s success and looking forward to finishing strong in both the playoffs and the national championship.

The WCLL quarterfinal play-offs will start on April 22 at Cal Poly’s home field.

The first game will likely be against rival Chico State, depending on how the last games of the season go for both teams. Chico defeated Cal Poly last year in the playoffs.

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