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Section Header
Laxcats face NCAA team

By James Kelley
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday March 4, 2003

The men's lacrosse team is used to people thinking that it cannot compete with NCAA teams, but tonight the Laxcats will get their chance to strike back, when they host St. John Fisher.

Tonight at 7 p.m. the No. 5 Laxcats (4-1, 3-0) step out of United States Lacrosse Associates action to host a second year NCAA Division III team, St. John Fisher, at Salpointe High School, located at North Mountain Avenue and East Copper Street, not their usual home, Laxcat Coliseum. Head coach Adam Hopkins said the game represents "more than just one game" and is for a "bigger purpose."

"I'm expecting a very disciplined team, I know this is their first recruiting class, I don't know how good they're going to be, but I know they're well coached," Hopkins said. "When a Division III team plays a USLIA team there's a statement to make, something to prove."

The notion that any NCAA team could beat a given club team is something that weighs heavily in the Laxcats' minds.

"They would never say it out loud, but we know that's what they're thinking," said long stick man Brent Richey.

The club-versus-NCAA debate gained more steam recently when NCAA Division III No. 9 Whittier spanked USLIA No. 6 Michigan, 23-7, sporting a 16-2 halftime lead. The message boards of uslia.com and laxpower.com were flooded with everything from barbs saying that high school teams could beat USLIA teams to posts in support of club teams.

Richey estimates there are 20 Laxcats who read the message boards.

"We've seen postings all over message boards talking about high school teams being able to beat USLIA teams, that the USLIA doesn't even stack up to Division III teams." Hopkins said. "You know we see it and take it in stride. Regardless of where (St. John Fisher) is ranked in Division III, we want to win."

Hopkins is an authority on college lacrosse; he was a two-time All-American as a defender at NCAA division II power New York Tech, where he played against top D-I, D-II and D-III teams. He is in his third year of coaching at the UA, second as head coach.

"I think any top USLIA team can play with any team outside of the top 5 in Division III," Hopkins said. "We're confident we can play with anyone outside of the top five in each division."

Richey said the game is a prime opportunity to keep "club" from being a four-letter word.

"It is a big deal; ╬club' is kind of a loaded word. (Winning) would be a huge lift," Richey said.


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