By Jake Berg / Delta Staff Writer
The MVC men’s lacrosse team wrap up their regular season with five of its players being selected to the 2019 KCAC All-Conference team.
Four of the Vikings were first team selections, senior attacker Jack Smith, senior midfielder Ryan Barnes, junior midfielder Tyler Wilkinson and senior face-off specialist Tyler Wollenburg. Sophomore defenseman, Gavin Orman was a second team selection.
In addition to the individual accolades, the Vikings are locked in a three-way tie for the regular season conference championship with Ottawa University and Benedictine College.
“I feel that we played well in games but we had too many mistakes that kept us out of others,” said Barnes. “We needed to come together earlier in the season so we were one solid unit. There was a lot of change with how many people we graduated last year.”
Lead by Smith and freshman goaltender Liam Carney, MVC finished their season with a record of 8-2, and a conference record of 5-1.
“Going 8-2 over the course of the season isn’t a bad thing, obviously,” said Smith. “Could’ve gone better, but also could have gone worse. We rallied late in games to pull out the wins, not how we wanted to win, but we still got the wins.”
MVC had multiple games come down to the wire, but were still able to walk away with the victory, for instance the 14-12 upset win at then No. 6 Siena Heights University or most KCAC games.
“That trip is always a long one and we were able to fight back from being down 3 at one point to get a big win against a ranked opponent,” said Carney.
Unlike past years, the Vikings did not dominate the KCAC, all of MVC’s conference games were won by only a goal or two, with the exception of the loss to Benedictine.
“[Close regular season games] help in the postseason,” said Smith. “In the past, we would have close [post-season] games and normally lose because we never had to fight [during the regular season]. This year we’ve proven to ourselves we can fight till the end and normally come out on top. It’s going to be huge if we get into a dog fight because we’ve been there all season and it won’t be new to us.”
Another anomaly for MVC lacrosse this year was the loss to a fellow KCAC conference opponent, Benedictine College. Before this year MVC had never lost a game within the KCAC in regular season or postseason. Benedictine defeated the Vikings with ease with a score of 11-20.
“The loss was definitely a key factor in the season, it was a real nice reality check,” said Wilkinson. “We have to respect everyone we play and play the same way every game. If we do that we’ll be successful.”
The other and first loss on the season came early, dropping one to the University of the Cumberlands by a score of 8-16.
“We thought we would go there and punch them in the mouth, it went the other way around,” said Smith.
The most valuable player to MVC heading into the postseason is Smith, leading the team in goals with 40, Smith has been a key part of the Vikings offense all season long. Plagued by injury throughout his career, Smith has been a breakout player for the Vikings and within the KCAC, earning KCAC Offensive Player of the Week twice, along with an NAIA Offensive Player of the Week.