Men's and Women's Lacrosse—First four-year classes leave their markWhen University of Detroit Mercy announced on Sept. 5, 2007 that it was adding men’s and women’s lacrosse, no one knew what to expect. After all, lacrosse was viewed as more of an East Coast and Mid-Atlantic sport, with the hotbeds in the areas of Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia.
The big question was, could it succeed in the Motor City? Four seasons on the books and everyone can truthfully answer, YES.
“The addition of men’s and women’s lacrosse to the Titan athletics program has been tremendous,” said Associate Vice President & Athletic Director Keri Gaither. “In four short years, both programs have exceeded expectations in many ways, both academically and competitively, as well as increasing student enrollment.”
This past May, 14 student-athletes played their final game at the collegiate level, and while seniors are honored and praised for their hard work every season, there was no arguing that these Titans will go down in history.
The seniors were from the first ever four-year class in men’s and women’s lacrosse at UDM. The 10 on the men’s squad and the four on the women’s team helped build the program from the ground up. They made their commitment to come to Detroit at the time when the only recruiting pitch the Titans could offer was a great education and an opportunity, something that Anna Eidem could not pass up.
“Coming from Minnesota, I never heard of the University until they added lacrosse. Now four years later, I would not change a thing. I came here to start a program and help lay a foundation, and I think that all four of us did just that.”
Eidem, along with Emily Boissonneault, Corina Mahorn and Alycsa Valentine were part of the first Titan women’s team in 2009. While there were a few bumps along the way, the foursome left campus with some lasting memories, including a few school records and NCAA accolades.
“I was really excited coming here and making history, but the end was bittersweet,” said Mahorn. “I met so many friends here, really family, and I am excited to see the program grow even more.”
In its first-ever game on Feb. 21, 2009, the Detroit women stormed onto the scene with a 20-1 victory on the road at Howard University. UDM would record five victories that year, and three years later, the senior-laden class guided the Titans to a school-record eight wins.
Eidem finished her career with 200 goals and 234 points, and became the Titans’ first NCAA statistical leader as her 4.24 goals per game led the nation in 2012. Boissonneault posted a school record 242 goals—tying for 13th all-time in NCAA history—and 157 caused turnovers—tied for seventh in the Division I record book.
For the men, the senior class of Jon Bemben, Scott Harris, Brad Janer, Tim Lehto, Ty Maruyama, Jason McDonald, Adam Nolan, John Nowicki, Adam Parrottino and Danny Preston had to endure a tough start to their career with 17 straight losses, including a winless 0-11 rookie campaign.
“I look back five years ago, and when this opportunity came, I felt strongly that lacrosse could not only survive, but thrive in Detroit,” said Matt Holtz, the only men’s head coach in the program’s history. “I wanted the senior class to go out with a championship, but either way, those guys came here when there was nothing, and they should be very proud of what they accomplished.”
By the time 2011 rolled around, Detroit was ready to take the next step as it collected six wins and came within one game of the NCAA Tournament, reaching the MAAC Championship. In the title game, it was a rematch of a regular season contest that saw Detroit Titans put a halt to Siena’s 13-game home winning streak as well as the Saints’ 20-game MAAC winning streak with a 13-11 win, but this time Siena earned the bid with a 12-3 decision.
“I first heard that Detroit was starting a program in the summer before my senior year,” said Harris, a native of Saline, Mich., who scored Detroit’s first-ever goal at Ohio State and graduated as the program’s all-time leader in points (93) and assists (43). “At that time, I was looking at out-of-state colleges for lacrosse, but it was a chance to play Division I, and after looking at the school, I found out what a great business program it had, and it was close to home.”
In 2012, a team that three years earlier was 0-11, was the preseason favorite to win the MAAC as the Titans recorded their second-straight MAAC Tournament appearance. One of the program’s biggest games also occurred as a sold-out crowd of 1,800 fans packed Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac to see Detroit Titans upend the Michigan Wolverines, 13-9.
“One of the most exciting aspects has been the outpouring of support from the lacrosse community across the country,” said Gaither. “From the moment we announced the addition of lacrosse, I had calls from the East Coast to the West Coast thanking UDM for expanding lacrosse opportunities. With many of our players coming from these areas, it has been wonderful to watch them fall in love with the city of Detroit and the University and it is extremely gratifying that they have embraced Detroit as their new home.”
by P.J. Gadowski, UDM senior assistant sports information director