There’s another nationally ranked men’s team at Union College.
And like their skating brethren, the lacrosse team has a singleness of purpose. That team-first mentality has helped Paul Wehrum’s team into the top 10 in both national polls.
“That’s just a number. We look at it as how other people think of us. Our main goal is to be playing in May,” said junior defenseman Adam Sands after the No. 10 Dutchmen (8-1) beat St. John Fisher, 10-7, Wednesday for their eighth straight win.
“It’s nice to see you’re getting the recognition, but in the end, it’s all about winning the next game,” said Union goalkeeper Stefan Basile, who made nine saves in his team’s final non-league game before a string of five Liberty League contests end the schedule.
It sounds like Sands and Basile have been listening to their coach, who knows that a new ranking is always a week away.
“Two years ago, we were ranked No. 5 in the country, and a 3-6 Williams team came to Union and beat us,” said Wehrum, now in his eighth year as coach of the Dutchmen. “I don’t want these kids getting big heads.”
Union rolled to a 7-1 lead with the first goal of the second half, with five different players scoring goals.
“I liked our unselfishness. I stress assisted goals,” Wehrum said. “Last year, I think 90 percent of our goals were unassisted. That’s not going to win.”
“We’re probably the most unselfish team in Division III lacrosse,” said Sands. “We don’t have anyone with 100 points, or eight points a game, and we don’t really care.”
Senior midfielder Jonathan Andrews had two of his three goals as Union took a 4-0 lead after one quarter, and got his fourth of the season in third to put Union up, 8-2.
“Sometimes, we try to do too much individually,” he said. “You can get in each other’s way.”
Defensively, the Dutchmen surrendered 11⁄2 goals over their season average. But three came late in the game — two with the advantage — to make it a closer game.
“A lot of their goals came on man-up situations. That’s when guys try to do too much,” Wehrum said.
A late-game hit-to-the-head penalty that allowed St. John Fisher two full minutes of man-up play drew his wrath.
“It was unnesscary. Don’t create things for the other team,” Wehrum said.
But Basile, Sands, senior Tanner Jones and sophomore Kyle McQuiggan led a defense that held up.
“We graduated only one defensive middie. The whole defense is back, with a couple of new additions,” said Basile. “We trust each other.”
Basile came up with two of his best saves to keep the Cardinals from getting even closer during their lengthy man advantage.
“Our goalie is playing like an All-American,” Wehrum praised.
The Dutchmen now turn their attention to their Liberty League foes, beginning with a Saturday game at Clarkson.
“League play is so intense,” said Andrews. “We’re never going to look past anyone in this league. because any given game, anyone can beat you.”
“Once you get hot, you just want to keep rolling,” Basile said. “We’ve been playing well, and you want to carry that into league play, and eventually the NCAA tournament.”
“We’re trying to build a reputation for ourselves, but this team hasn’t done anything yet,” said Sands. “We do have pretty high aspirations, though.”
As for Wehrum, he’s not going to say much.
“I’ll know a lot more about this team after Clarkson,” he said. “That’s not a fun place to play.”
St. John Fisher 0 1 3 3 — 7
Union 4 2 3 1 — 10
St. John Fisher scoring: Michael Russell 2-0, Jess Wester 1-1, Nick Rossi 1-0, Gary Bova 1-1, Taylor Muzatfago 1-0, Tim Wagner 1-0, Brett Farrell 0-2, Greg Ramsden 0-1. Union scoring: Jonathan Andrews 3-1, Richard Gregory 2-1, Kykle Mason 1-0, Peter Richardson 1-0, Jake Quinn 1-0, Adam Rosenthal 1-0, Nolan Stauffer 1-2, Tom Stanton 0-1,
Goalkeepers: St. John Fisher, Tanner Swan, 8 saves. Union, Stefan Basile, 9 saves.