In an article back in August I explained how the Purdue Men’s Lacrosse team operated and how although they are not an NCAA team, they do a lot on and off the field to be more than a “club.” In this article I will talk about what really matters, the games. Just like March Madness, the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA) has a National Tournament of 16 teams, where nine receive Automatic Qualifiers by winning their respective conference tournament, and the other seven receive At-Large bids chosen by a selection committee.
Purdue’s conference is the Upper Midwest Lacrosse Conference (UMLC) and it includes other B1G teams such as Minnesota, Illinois, Nebraska, Michigan State, and Indiana, as well as other midwest teams such as Western Michigan, Iowa State, and Miami (OH). Since this format began in 1997, Purdue has won the conference and gone to the National Tournament three times (2013, 2015-16). Despite not winning the conference tournament since 2016, the Boilermakers have come pretty close each year following. In 2017 they lost in the semifinals to IU by four, and the next year they lost to IU again by three this time in the conference finals. In 2019 they made it back to the finals, but lost to Minnesota, and this past season they lost to Minnesota again this time in the semifinals. After returning numerous All-Conference players and starters, the team is ready to get back to Nationals.
The season started on February 17th when the team flew to Dallas, which was the first time the team traveled by plane for a regular season game. That night they dropped a tough one to Southern Methodist, the #23 team in the Varsity Club Lacrosse media poll, at their lacrosse-only stadium, but recouped and beat Arkansas the next day. On Sunday they headed over to Fort Worth where they dropped a close one to #22 TCU, a team that won their conference last year.
The next weekend they played two “home” games at Noblesville HS against Nebraska and West Virginia. Purdue’s home field is an outdoor grass field, which in Indiana is pretty useless in February, and so thankful schools like Guerin Catholic and Noblesville allow Purdue to host games on their turf fields. The team split that weekend, beating Nebraska and losing to West Virginia. They split the following weekend as well, beating Buffalo, then losing to Pittsburgh the next day.
After a couple weekends off, they started conference play and headed north to play Michigan State and Western Michigan. The conference is split into an East and a West division, with Purdue, Miami (OH), Michigan State, Western Michigan, and IU all in the East division, while the West division consists of Illinois, Iowa State, Minnesota, and Nebraska. The top three teams from each division make the conference tournament, and the top team from each division gets a 1st round BYE. This makes these first two games must-wins. Unfortunately they dropped both games which put them in a tough spot to make the conference playoffs.
The weekend of April 1st the Boilers played NC State and Tennessee in Knoxville, two games that didn’t affect their conference standing, but instead served as good games to prepare for conference play and boost their at-large chances.
April 7th and 8th were the team’s first, and only, games in West Lafayette. Their home field, The Northwest Fields, are located on the corner of Cherry Lane and McCormick Road across from the soccer, baseball, and softball fields. The games were against Illinois and Miami (OH), both conference games, but only Miami (OH) is a division game meaning it will affect getting into the tournament. Already 0-2 in the division they needed to beat Miami (OH) to have a chance at the tournament. They came up clutch beating the Redhawks 16-10, and also beat Illinois 11-10.
The last game of the season was against IU in Bloomington. Purdue was 1-2 in the division and Indiana was 2-1, meaning the winner of the game makes the conference tournament and the loser’s season is over. With their backs against the wall, the Boilers came clutch once again beating the Hoosiers 7-6 which earned them a playoff spot and ended their rival’s season all in one. This year the conference tournament is being played at the Mercyhealth Sportscore in Loves Park, IL and starts Friday 4/28. The Boilers finished second in the East division meaning they’ll play the third place team in the West division. Iowa State and Illinois play this weekend and Purdue will play the loser of the game. If they win they play Minnesota, the #1 seed in the West and the team that ended their season the past two seasons.
Coming off a three game win streak the team is ready for an UMLC Championship run. Senior captain Ryan Schellin had this to say: “Right now the team is pushing to make a run in the playoffs. After a shaky start to conference games with some close losses, the team is really starting to turn it around. Everyone on both sides of the ball are starting to hit their stride and help drive the team forward. The team is feeling energized and excited as we start practice this week and get ready for that first game next Friday. We are looking to make quite the push into this conference and fight for that bid to nationals.”
“After the big win against IU, the team is fired up and ready to go for the conference tournament,” said Head Coach Dan Sahm. “This season has been one of, if not, the toughest schedules we’ve had in team history. After last year, the goal for the 2023 season was to play stronger competition, which meant we needed to travel more.”
“We made a lot of trips to play very strong games, but the team has stepped up to the plate and came close in a lot of them. And that shows how strong and competitive they can be. Our last three games of the regular season fell in our favor, and we are playing and moving in the right direction. We have a weekend off from games, but we still have a lot of work to prepare for the UMLC Tournament.”
Game times and locations as well as live stream links and game updates will be posted on the team’s social media pages. Make sure to follow all of their pages and support the team in their pursuit of a fourth conference championship and National Tournament appearance.
YouTube: Purdue Men’s Lacrosse