A product nearly two years in the making, Augustana College hosts men’s and women’s lacrosse matches for the first time this weekend.
The Vikings will compete in four of the six matches that will be contested at the new Thorson-Lucken Field, with the men’s team making its home debut at 7 p.m. today and the women’s team playing its first home match at 11 a.m. Saturday.
“It’s an exciting time, something we’ve been looking forward to for a long, long time,” Augustana women’s coach Sara Tisdale said. “It’s not lost on any of us that a lot of people have sacrificed a lot of time and energy to make this a reality.”
Men’s coach Kyle Hart said he is anxious to expose the Quad-Cities to a sport that is gaining in popularity both at the high school level in Illinois and at the collegiate level.
“I get a lot of questions from people who wonder what it’s all about, and the people who do come out will see a physical game, a fast-paced game that incorporates some of the skills of basketball, football, hockey and soccer,” Hart said. “We’re ready to show people what we’re about, and we’re excited about finally playing at home.”
Fans will find that tailgating is part of the lacrosse experience and both Vikings teams will take the field this weekend with winning records after opening their seasons with spring break trips to the South.
The Augustana men, who host a veteran Fontbonne team at 7 p.m. today and meet Alma at noon on Sunday, are 3-1. The Vikings women, who play Fontbonne at 11 a.m. and Alma at 5 p.m. on Saturday, bring a 3-2 record into the weekend.
Augustana announced the creation of its programs two years ago, putting coaches in place in time to build from the ground up and providing them with resources needed to recruit competitive NCAA Division III teams.
“I’ve talked to coaches who had six months to throw everything together,” Tisdale said. “Augustana has gone about this the right way. We have the facilities we need, we were given the time to learn what the institution is all about and the time to recruit student-athletes who are a good fit for Augustana.”
Hart, who joined the staff in August, 2010, six months after Tisdale was hired, said the time has gone quickly.
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“There has been plenty to do,’’ he said. “And now the next step is to host our first home competition, which we’re all excited about.”
Inaugural collegiate lacrosse schedule at Augustana’s Thorson-Lucken Field this weekend:
Today: Alma vs. Fontbonne (women), 5 p.m.; Fontbonne vs. Augustana (men), 7 p.m.
Saturday: Fontbonne vs. Augustana (women), 11 a.m.; Fontbonne vs. Alma (men), 1 p.m.; Alma vs. Augustana (women), 5 p.m.
Sunday: Alma vs. Augustana (men), noon