NIU lacrosse set to host annual ‘fall classic’

By Korey Peterson

DeKALB | Some sports require strength and size, while some demand speed and agility.

The sport of lacrosse calls for it all, as players run up and down a grass field and hit the opposing team’s players. They do all of this while trying to hurl a lacrosse ball into a goal from the meshing on the end of their 40-to-72 inch long lacrosse stick, or the crosse.

This will all be on display this weekend for the NIU Lacrosse Fall Classic. NIU has hosted the invitational annually since 1987. Fifteen university teams will compete in the 23rd year of the tournament that will take place on Saturday and Sunday in the field by Stevenson Towers.

Several of NIU’s conference opponents from the Great Lakes Lacrosse League (GLLL) will travel to DeKalb this weekend, though the tournament is not restricted to just conference teams. Clubs from the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association, including the 2009 Fall Classic champion University of Illinois, and other non-varsity teams will also participate.

The tournament represents the end of the fall season for most conference teams, and this event is a good chance for teams to get a good look at opponents they may see in the spring’s GLLL playoffs.

“It’s one of the biggest tournaments in the Midwest right now,” said NIU club president Dave Jasper. “It is a good chance to gauge the other teams in the GLLL. And we get to play U of I, who is one of the top teams in the region.”

The Huskies opened their 2010-2011 season by defeating the alumni team, 5-1. The second tournament of the year was at the University of Wisconsin, where they defeated GLLL opponent UW-Platteville twice and lost to the MCLA’s UW-Milwaukee. At the Western Illinois University Invitational, the team lost three close matches, including two where they lost in the final minute of regulation and another in overtime.

This weekend, the NIU team will play without several key players including starting senior goaltender Vince Abbate.

Jasper, a defenseman, is also out after having knee surgery.

Though playing shorthanded and being forced to have freshmen and sophomores step into larger roles, Nick Lenzi, the club’s vice president and acting coach, likes the host team’s chances of winning the Fall Classic for the first time in the event’s history.

“I’m pretty positive we can play with anybody that comes to our tournament,” he said. “We are young, but definitely have the talent. We just have to put it together at the right time.”