On March 11, the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association named Cal Poly the No.1-ranked team in the nation. By the next day, their season was cancelled.
“We felt like this was our year,” senior defenseman Jack Tunney said. “I think we definitely could have won the national championship if that didn’t happen.”
Like all other sports, the Mustangs’ season fell victim to circumstance and was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the team said they plan to use the situation as fuel to come back more motivated next season.
Cal Poly had a steady climb to the top of the rankings after starting from preseason position No. 10. By the second week of competition, the MCLA coaches poll ranked Cal Poly as the third-best team in the nation behind only Cal (No. 2) and South Carolina (No. 1).
During week three, the Mustangs and the Golden Bears faced off for control of the top spot after South Carolina fell from No. 1 due to a defeat. Cal Poly went on to break an 11-11 tie against Cal to win the game with 10 seconds remaining on a left-handed goal by junior attacker Dominick Trageser.
“It was the first time in my lacrosse career that I was ever the top ranked team in any league, so it was pretty huge,” junior defenseman Christian Akeroyd said.
Within the next week, the team was informed that all non-essential travel from campus would be banned. Because the Men’s Lacrosse program is under club status at Cal Poly, that meant their season was being impacted.
“Our spring break trip to Colorado was cancelled, our playoffs later that year were cancelled, and our nationals tournament was cancelled,” Akeroyd said. “This became a trend between a bunch of other schools that were in the league with us. Eventually enough teams dropped out that they had to put a big ol’ asterisk on this season.”
According to Tunney, the Mustangs were gaining momentum toward the second-half of the season, just before the announcement was made.
“We were just bummed because we were playing well,” Tunney said. “We had only lost one game.”
While Cal Poly made strides in their success this season, the Mustangs said their single appearance at the league’s No. 1 spot is not enough to satisfy the team.
The Mustangs are hoping to return as many seniors as possible due to an eligibility extension that was granted because the team did not participate in the playoffs. Tunney, a First Team All-American, said he will be returning.
“We had a pretty small senior class, there were only five of us,” Tunney said. “Most of them are in limbo … we’re still figuring that out.”
Regardless of who suits up for the green and gold next year, the team is going to have high expectations for themselves after having a taste of the No. 1 spot.