Volume 96, Issue 16
Wednesday, September 25, 2002

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Mustangs show Yankees lacrosse is our game

By Alex Horn
Gazette Staff

Niru Somayajula/Gazette

STICKIN' IN TO THE MAN. The Mustangs men's lacrosse team had a good weekend, coming away with a pair of wins.

Mustangs lacrosse is gearing up to become a force to be reckoned with.

The men's lacrosse team faced off against Oakland University, from the United States, in an exhibition match on Sunday afternoon.

Western won 17-11 despite a late game on Saturday evening that saw them beat up on McMaster University 18-6.

On the strength of some crafty passing around the net, Western's Jeff Campbell potted a couple of highlight reel goals along with Scott Stapleford and Chris Sturdest who, coincidentally, plays professional lacrosse for the Washington Power of the National Lacrosse League.

"Western gave us a great effort today, they moved the ball really well around the net," said Towbey Kassa of Oakland.

The lacrosse program at Western is a team that has all the chips stacked against them.

Without any direct funding from the university, the team must rely on corporate sponsorship and private fundraising in order to support their entire lacrosse program, yet they manage to win – and win often.

"The program is definitely growing, but it's all because of the hard work of the coaching staff, the players and the support of our family and friends. It's difficult without the funding," said forward and third-year honours philosophy student Scott Stapleford, who was drafted by the Toronto Rock of the NLL on Saturday.

The team not only raises money for their own program, but also funds the minor lacrosse leagues all over London. Western sponsors all teams, from 10 to 18-year-olds, and brings them out for everything from fundraising events to team barbecues, like on Sunday after the win over Oakland College.

Being a part of the second fastest growing sport in Canada in a location that sees little lacrosse exposure, is very exciting for Mustangs coach Dave Leich.

"We have one of the best programs in the country," said Leich, who runs the program at Western as well as the minor league teams. "Our aim is to transfer our efforts down to the kids. We want them to have fun with the sport of lacrosse."

The lacrosse team's motivation couldn't have been summed up better. Leich's program allows elite university athletes to spend time with the youth of the sport as well as provide the positive influence of a Western student athlete.

The dedication these athletes show to their sport, both on and off the field here in London, is indeed very impressive.

Western's next home game is on Oct. 19 at TD Waterhouse Stadium versus the Wilfred Laurier University Golden Hawks. Game time is set for 5:30 p.m..

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2002 THE GAZETTE