Men’s lacrosse club fundraises for season of all road games

Campus Recreation told the Owls during winter break that Geasey Field is unplayable.

Sophomore midfielder Mike Montgomery shoots during practice on March 13 at the Temple Sports Complex. | JAMIE COTTRELL / THE TEMPLE NEWS

When the men’s lacrosse club planned its budget for the 2017-18 academic year in August and September, its officers allocated travel funds for about 10 away games.

But after winter break, the team learned from Campus Recreation that Geasey Field is unplayable due to safety concerns. There are areas of the field where players could trip, if they aren’t familiar with it, due to open seams in the turf, coach Chris Berkelbach said.

It has forced the team to play all of its spring games on the road, said Club President and senior long-stick midfielder Daniel McCullough.

“Campus Recreation told us Geasey was just ‘unfit for men’s lacrosse,’” McCullough said. “I knew this type of news was coming, but just didn’t know when it would come. The field is deteriorating and in bad shape, but I didn’t go into this season thinking that it’d be retired.”

Geasey Field began hosting the Division I lacrosse and field hockey teams in 1956 and debuted a renovated turf field in 2009.

The lacrosse and field hockey teams began playing at the Temple Sports Complex in Fall 2016, when it opened at Broad and Master streets, and now Geasey Field is the proposed site of Temple’s on-campus football stadium.

The men’s lacrosse club played at Geasey Field in the fall and looked to build on their 16-1 home record there since 2015. But the team will instead spend its 10th season on the road.

To cover the unexpected higher costs of transportation, the club made an online crowdfunding campaign through GoFundMe on Feb. 26 and met its $7,000 goal in a 17-day period. It announced the last week of the campaign on Facebook on March 12.

“We were afraid we weren’t going to be able to play our season how we wanted to, but now we can,” Berkelbach said.

As a substitute for Geasey Field, Campus Recreation offered to let the Owls play home games at the Ambler Sports Complex, which is about a 45-minute drive from Main Campus.

“It wouldn’t really even feel like a home game,” junior goalkeeper Jack Green said.

“We definitely have to think about our options and get our name out there to other fields early on so that we can have home games in the near future,” Green added.

The Temple Sports Complex would be an ideal option, Green said, but the soccer goals aren’t removable on the field, which creates a safety hazard.

Plus, men’s lacrosse tends to have more play behind the net than women’s lacrosse, and Howarth Field doesn’t have enough space behind the north goal, said Peter Derstine, Temple’s assistant director of sports clubs.

Kroc Field near La Salle is a possible option for future years, McCullough said. The team hosted its Stick-It-To Cancer tournament, which raised funds for breast cancer patients, at the facility last year.

In the meantime, Berkelbach thinks the Owls’ road trips will help them “build great chemistry.”

“We’re going to be spending a lot more time together instead of just having to walk to Geasey for a home game,” Berkelbach said. “This may be a blessing in disguise.”

Due to the financial concerns this year, Berkelbach was fearful that fewer players would try out. The team tried to calculate a reasonable dues fee that would help it operate for the season, Berkelbach said.

Players had already paid their dues when they found out Geasey Field wouldn’t be playable, and the team didn’t want to ask players to pay more money, junior midfielder Jake Bevenour said.

The $7,000 from the GoFundMe will cover three bus trips that weren’t in the original budget.

Additional travel expenses, like food, drinks, field rental and referees for a regular-season game against St. Joseph’s at Kroc Field and a potential playoff game, will also be covered, Berkelbach added.

“We’re very upfront with them about the money, and everyone responded really well to it,” McCullough said. “If they wanted to play for a program where everything is covered, your goal is the NCAA.”

“We actually had almost 100 new people come out this year with around 30 returning players also,” said Bevenour, who is one of the 45 players who made the club’s final roster. “I really don’t think that turned anybody off from wanting to join the team.”

Despite not having any home games this year, Temple is off to a strong start. The Owls (3-0) are No. 8 in the March 12 National College Lacrosse League’s Division I All Pro President’s Poll.

“I still don’t think it’s going to slow us down,” Bevenour said. “We have a really great group of guys this year who are really excited to play and to challenge with each other.”

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