The fields of Rice Eccles Stadium will be alive and well this Friday, but the players on it will be after a different type of ball.
The University of Utah men’s lacrosse team will complete what has been a two year process on Friday, Feb. 1 as they play their first game as an NCAA-recognized team. The process from a club sport to an NCAA sport hasn’t been easy, but now the U can add another sport to its already lengthy catalog.
Although the team is new to the NCAA scene, they already have plenty of depth and leadership from their days as a club sport. Aaron Fjeldsted, one of the team’s captains, was a Men’s College Lacrosse Association (MCLA) Honorable Mention All-American Midfielder in 2018, and he’s not the only one with national recognition. Both Josh and Jake Stout were two-time All Americans, with Josh earning first team honors as an attacker and Jake earning second team honors as a midfielder in 2018. Goalkeeper Daniel Costa earned second team honors last year, and Long-Stick Midfielder (LSM) Chris Belcher comes into 2019 with second team honors as well.
Belcher sits on the starting roster at one of the more diverse positions in the game. The LSM is responsible for being an extra attacker and defender. The athleticism required to play the position well can make or break a team’s attack. The LSM is generally taller than the other players on the field, and requires more speed and agility to physically move to both sides of the field to play both offense and defense. At 6’3, Belcher has no problem giving the Utes the height that they need at the position.
The team will open their first NCAA season against the Catamounts, out of the University of Vermont. Slated to finish third in the nation this year, the Catamounts will be a great opponent for a hungry Utah team. Two Catamounts will make the return to their home state of Utah this week, as senior Thomas Stockham, out of Salt Lake City, and sophomore Jack Mintz, out of Park City, will return to their home state to compete against the Utes.
Both teams are looking to prove themselves in the world of NCAA lacrosse, but for the Utes, Friday’s matinee is an exciting opportunity to continue a long-standing tradition of success at the national level.