When you decide to add a sport as large and as prosperous as football, then the rest will follow. Last year, Alderson-Broaddus College did just that, as well as adding an up and coming sport: lacrosse. But the addition of a men's team was one that has never been seen before in the area.
"I think that we are confident that we're confident that we're building the foundation," Battlers men's lacrosse head coach Bob Bennett said. "One thing we're doing that other beginning programs don't do is that we're playing a top level schedule. I think our schedule is rated eighth toughest in the country. So we have a freshmen group that's playing the highest level of Division II lacrosse, so the result is not surprising. But we'll get better as time goes by."
The Battlers joined the ECAC conference, otherwise known as the Eastern College Athletic Conference, featuring other West Virginia teams such as Ohio Valley and Wheeling Jesuit. But the conference also offers some of the best teams in America, including Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania. The Lakers are currently ranked second in the nation. So not only is A-B starting a men's lacrosse program, but they are diving right into some deep water by competing with the very best teams right away.
"I think you have to play the best in order to be the best," Bennett said. "That's kind of the sentiment we had when we built the schedule. We play in the ECAC. There's four top 20 teams there, so you get a tough schedule automatically. This week, for example, we'll play the number six team in the country today, and on Sunday we play Mercyhurst, the second best team in the country. Mercyhurst has a long lacrosse heritage, they won the national championship two years ago, they were in the final four last year and I expect them to be in the tournament again this year."
And a heads up to the local high school lacrosse players in West Virginia, the Battlers are looking for you.
"We want to be the place that West Virginia kids come to play college lacrosse and we have six West Virginia players on our team. But we're focused on the kids coming up in West Virginia and want them to come play here," Bennett said.