The Monmouth men’s lacrosse team hosted an international scrimmage against the Tokyo Falcons Lacrosse Club from Japan on Friday, Sept. 23. The Hawks won the friendly scrimmage 11-5 at Hesse Field on the Great Lawn.
The Falcons Lacrosse Club consists of national team players and previous national team players. They are all post-graduates and only practice on the weekends because they’re busy with work and their families during the weekdays. Many of the Japanese players said the biggest struggle they face is finding a field to practice on.
This was the first time the Hawks have played a team from Japan, and Monmouth Head Coach Brian Fisher was just looking to see where his team stood at this point in the fall.
“It was a great scrimmage because we got to play under the lights at Hesse Field and it was our first opportunity to play against another team this fall,” Fisher said. “It was only our 10th day on the field so we had nine practices prior and it was fun to go out and see where we were as a team after less than two weeks of play.”
There was a chilling moment before the first whistle even blew, that everyone on the field and stands could feel. University event staff members were having technical difficulties with the playing of Japan’s national anthem. After several minutes of silence went by, the Falcons decided to sing their national anthem themselves. It was a memorable experience and a great way to get the energy flowing before the game.
The Falcons scored the first goal of the scrimmage, and it took the Hawks some time to adjust to a different style of lacrosse.
“They certainly play fast and the one thing that stood out to everybody was they were speaking a different language. That on-field communication that we usually play off of when you play other teams, that’s not there,” junior attackman Sean Tornetta said. “Other than that, they were all good lacrosse players and they work hard like we do.”
But Monmouth would prevail in the end and seven different Hawks scored on the day. Tornetta led the blue and white with three goals while senior captain midfielder Eric Berger and junior attackman/midfielder Griffin Figel had two. Senior midfielder Zack Schleicher, junior attackman Bryce Wasserman, sophomore attackman Eamon Campbell and sophomore midfielder Mike Dedvukaj all added a goal each.
The Hawks ran all different combinations of players at the midfield, attack and defense to evaluate team chemistry and to see what works.
“This was a good test for our team because we were able to point out what we needed to work on while also trying a combination of different players out,” said Berger. “The Falcons were a very fast and skilled team from Japan. Many of their players have experience from playing on the national team.”
After the game, both teams shook hands and exchanged team shirts. The Falcons were welcomed by the Hawks and their fans for a post-game tailgate, where the players got to know each other a little more.
There was a language barrier between the players, but several Japanese players spoke fluent English, and were able to translate for the fest of the team.
“It was a great experience. We think lacrosse is predominantly in the northeast, so it was so cool to have a team from another country come to our campus and play a really competitive game,” Tornetta said. “It was cool because they came out to our tailgate and they talked to us about what they do and how they conduct their practices. It was cool to see how they reacted to what we do playing lacrosse for a school team and integrating that with class. It was cool to get to know them and it was nice to get a different perspective from a different country sharing the same sport.”
PHOTO COURTESY of Rene Schleicher