Founded in 1985, the lacrosse team is headed towards its 30th year of existence at Sonoma State University. The team will be lead by Head Coach Panchito Ojeda, with two former team members and SSU graduates, Alex Richmond and Matt D’Angelo, holding down the assistant coach roles. Richmond played on the team from 2007 until 2011, and D’Angelo played from 2008 until 2012. This is their second year on the coaching staff.
Several years ago, the program became part of the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association, also known as the MCLA. The team competes at the Division I Level in the West Coast Lacrosse League, or WCLL. The league is made up of well-known schools such as Stanford, Cal, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara, UC Davis, Chico State, and as of this year, Dominican University. This past season, the team also faced non-division opponents like Florida, Oregon State, Arizona, Arizona State, Chapman, and overall defending champion, Colorado.
Despite the tough schedule, the team has put together winning seasons in the past. In 2002, the team earned a national title and was runner-up nationally in 2005. In addition, the team is four-time WCLL champion and has produced All-American players in recent years. This year, the team is planning on having another successful season, especially after graduating only four players.
“Goal is to win a league championship first, and then go on to nationals to hopefully win a national championship,” said D’Angelo. “Expectations are definitely high on our part.”
Some of the games along the way to a championship may be important than others.
“The one that sticks out off the top of my head is Cal, we lost to them in the playoffs last year and we’ve got a big chip on our shoulder.” D’Angelo said.
“I’m looking forward to playing Colorado and Colorado State, I think it’ll be a fun trip for us and a big test,” Richmond said. “It’ll be a good test.” This year the team will visit to play in Colorado as part of their annual Spring Break trip.
The team recently added a group of recruits and walk-ons, but had to cut ten potential players, leaving the roster at 50 players. The team hasn’t picked captains, but expects impact performances from a select few, such as attacker Brad Bochesa, senior midfielder Connor Kuehnle, and four-year starting defenseman Sam Willon.
Off the field, members of the team like to hang out together.
“We’re a really tight-knit group,” said D’Angelo.
“We all like to work really hard…we’ve meshed pretty well these last three weeks,” said Gio Rico, a freshman midfielder recruited from De La Salle High School.
On game-days, fans can take part in the “Couch Crew” tradition of lining up couches for seating along the sidelines. Those looking to support our team won’t have to look far because home games are played on the Beaujolais playing fields. This year’s action begins with the alumni game on Saturday, Oct. 12. Additional information, schedules, news stories and video highlights can be found on ssulacrosse.com.