IRVINE, Calif. – It has been over 11 months since the Concordia-Irvine men's lacrosse team has stepped on the field against an opponent. However, the wait is almost over as head coach Jesse Foss has announced the 2021 schedule.
The 10-game schedule has the Eagles hosting four contests in Irvine while on the road for six games. The schedule features some opponents that the Eagles have not faced before. Those include Minnesota, Dominican and Utah Valley.
The Green and Gold also plan to face conference rivals Chapman, Arizona and Grand Canyon. The schedule is rounded out with games against Brigham Young and NCAA Division III opponent Whittier.
The Eagles open the season at home on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 11 a.m. against Utah Valley at Eagles Field. This contest was added the week of the contest after an opponent originally scheduled to face Utah Valley was unable to do so.
After facing the Wolverines, CUI is set to play its first game away from Irvine on March 6 against Minnesota. That game is scheduled to be played at a neutral site in Mesa, Ariz. The first home night game in CUI men's lacrosse history is set to be on Saturday, March 27 against Whittier.
The season is set to conclude on April 21 against Chapman. The game will also be played under the new lights on Eagles Field, which will be the first "Senior Night" for the men's lacrosse team.
After graduating only four players from the 2020 roster and bringing in 14 new players including two NCAA transfers, the Eagles have the talent and depth to compete with anyone. The team also boasts players from seven different states, as well as Australia.
"The most exciting part of this year's team is the depth we have at each position," said Foss. "This has raised the level of practice and guys are competing for their spots."
The offense will be paced by attackman Jonah Rinaldi. Rinaldi was off to a great start in 2020 leading the team with 32 points through seven games including an 8-point (7g, 1a) performance against then-No. 1 Cal-Berkeley.
"Rinaldi is the most athletically talented player I've coached and has the ability to take over games," Foss said.
The offense also returns starting midfielders Jack Fisher, Dax Allison and Brett Masaki. Tyler Collins is making the unique jump from the team's No. 1 close defenseman in 2020 to a first line midfielder in 2021.
"Collins possesses the size and skill to be a force for us on offense and will still remain a presence on the defensive end," stated Foss. "These five will be a nightmare for opposing defenses and each bring a unique skill set to the table."
The defense will be led by goalie Tyler Schweickert. Schweickert is a four-year starter in goal and one of the top keepers in the MCLA. He recorded 20-plus saves in two games in 2020 and finished with a career-high 58 percent save percentage.
"Tyler is a natural leader that exudes confidence and has the skills to back it up," commented Foss.
The Eagles return two thirds of their starting close defense from a year ago. Santiago DeArmas is healthy and looking the best he has ever been. Jacob Schrup looks even more confident with a year of experience under his belt. The graduation of All-American long stick midfielder Connor Reed left a big hole in between the lines but Hayden Greco has been waiting and ready to step up to the challenge.