(by Parker Padgett | MissouriStateLacrosse.org)
The Missouri State Lacrosse season is under way and the team is trying new things. One of the new things head coach Dustin Rich is trying is a “Captain’s Practice” that his senior captains run every week.
The captains for Rich’s Bears this spring are defenders Nick Eckart and Gunner Serota along with midfielder Cooper Kelley.
Eckart loves the opportunity Rich gives his team to run these practices.
“It means he trusts us," he said. "it gives us a chance to work on what we think we need to work on. I think it’ll be good.”
Along with his fellow captains, Kelley sees practices as a tool to work on what he thinks the team needs.
“I’m looking forward to how our offense looks cohesive-wise," Kelley said. “We’ve been working on getting schemes to be second nature; almost like muscle memory.”
Running game-like situations is Serota’s cup of tea in these practices.
“Personally, I like the 6 vs. 6 drills,” Serota said. “It gives us the most realistic game situations and allows us to practice playing as a team like we would during a game.”
2018 brings a new year and new changes.
The Bears are getting new uniforms, new helmets and a new conference while bringing a bigger roster to the field.
“The difference between this team and last year is the youth,” Kelley said. “There’s more talent this year."
Along with Kelley, Eckart believes the depth will come into play in the postseason
“This team is bigger, and we’ll get some help deep in the playoffs,” Eckart said. “We had 14 guys going up against 40.”
In terms of conference play, Serota is more excited for the level of talent more than anything.
“I just look forward to the different teams that we will play,” Serota said. “The LSA has increased competition to offer.”
But the 2018 campaign begins with a home match against a familiar foe: LSA Division I Arkansas.
Arkansas comes into Springfield with a 1-0 record, besting Kansas State 13-7 on Jan. 27.
As far as getting prepared for the match, Rich is more focused on his team rather than doing early scouting.
“It’s just so early in the season; it’s hard to get a scouting report on the first game,” Rich said. “We know they lost a couple of top scorers, but they’re still going to have their other scorers. I’m more focused on us right now”
Missouri State takes on Arkansas on Jan. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Betty and Bobby Allison North Stadium.