The Lakers refused to go down without a fight in their National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Final Four semifinals 4-1 loss to Lynn University on Thursday, Nov. 29, in Evans, Ga.
After winning the regular season and Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) playoff championship, the Lakers earned their spot in the NCAA Final Four.
Although starting the season with three subsequent losses, sophomore Ryan Lund knew this year would be an improvement from last season.
“I feel that we have proven many people wrong, especially since we started the season with three losses in a row. It was amazing to see such a different team after that,” said Lund. “After last year’s loss to Millersville in NCAA play, we were very determined to make a postseason run this year. We all knew we had a team with the quality to make it far, and felt we deserved to be in Georgia for the Final Four.”
Lund recorded the only goal for the Lakers on Thursday, stopping Lynn University from having a shutout. Off a pass from sophomore teammate Dane Rimko, Lund headed a shot into the bottom left of the net.
“We were just having a rough game and I believe it was important for us to see that we can score against a top ranked team at such a high level. Regardless of who scored the goal, it proved to us that we can play at the highest level,” Lund said.
The Lakers’ journey to the NCAA Final Four had been in the planning since before their season even began, but was not predicted to happen until the 2013 season.
“Before the year started, we proposed to ourselves that we win the regional championship this year and make it to the Final Four next year,” senior Alex Manea said.
On Saturday, Dec. 1, Manea was named to the Daktronics Honorable Mention All-American team. Manea recorded a team-high of 16 goals and seven assists.
After redshirting due to injury last season, Manea returned this year to play his last season as a Laker.
“I wanted to end my career here playing all season and I am glad I decided to redshirt and come back because we were very successful this year,” said Manea. “I wanted my last year to be the best I could make for myself, and to see myself accomplishing that feels great.”
Manea pinpoints the Lakers’ incredible season success to the team’s unique blend of style on the ice.
“The players this year really complemented the style we have been trying to play for the past few years, which is one of continuous offense and possession. The players we had in the past years were not really that style,” said Manea. “After the team came together after our first three games, we started to play like we wanted.”
Lund believes the Lakers’ productive season is a result of their dedicated practice and time together.
“This team had a perfect balance, in my mind, of experience and overall skill. We all bonded so well, and on the field we have been together through everything,” said Lund.
With the Lakers’ season is over, Manea can reflect on a remarkable 2012 season.
“The team was pretty affected right after the game against Lynn University, but after a while we all looked at the entire season and thought that we had a huge step this year and for the following years,” Manea said.
Lund is looking forward to next season, and another chance to reach the Final Four again.
“We are looking to make it back to the Final Four for redemption to reach our goal of winning a title,” said Lund. “This year was very important for us to develop some experience that we can build off next season. Now that we have done that we are determined to win a national title. It will be an exciting year.”