COLUMBIA – Head Coach Clayton Melrose announced Tuesday the captains for the 2016 season.
Leading the Tigers this year will be four players, attackman Grant Pieper, defender Austin Savage, goalie Matt Needham and midfielder Kevin Boyle. The group consists of two juniors and two seniors, with three of the four previously holding the role of captain at Missouri. After a 2015 season in which the Tigers went 7-7 in the regular season, Coach Melrose decided to bring two captains back to position who did not wear the “C” last year, but in previous seasons. Both Pieper and Savage were captains in the 2014 season, during which Missouri placed first in the GRLC West after the regular season.
Pieper (Plano, TX, Plano Senior) will be captaining the team for the second time in his career. A 2015 GRLC second-team selection at attack, Pieper led the Tigers in points last season (31 goals, 14 assists) while taking charge of the team’s attack unit. In the classroom Pieper also excelled and was one of two returning Missouri players to qualify for the 2015 MCLA Scholar Athlete team. With 49 career goals and 26 assists, Pieper is on pace to break the 100-point mark, a feat not achieved by many in program history.
“I’m incredibly honored and happy to be a captain this year,” Pieper said. “I’m excited to lead the team and see what the season holds.”
Savage (Naperville, IL, Neuqua Valley) is returning as a captain for his second season at Mizzou. The 2013 GRLC honorable-mention defender has been a three-year starter for the program after attending Onondaga Community College in New York. At 6’6″ Savage is the tallest player on the Missouri roster and has been facing off against the opponents’ best attackman since his first game in the black and gold. After injuries forced Savage to only play in five games in 2015, the senior is looking to help lead the defense in 2016.
Needham (Northbrook, IL, Glenbrook North) is the only returning captain from the 2015 squad. A 2014 honorable-mention all-conference goalie, Needham posted 128 saves (59.8%) during his sophomore tenure with the program, helping Missouri to one of the lowest goal-against average in the GRLC. As a junior, Needham will direct a Tiger defense which has all six starting defenders returning from 2015.
“This team is filled from top to bottom with great players and leaders, so I’m honored to represent this team as a captain,” Needham said.
The final captain for Missouri is Kevin Boyle. A junior, Boyle (Wellesley, MA) will be counted on to help lead a young Tigers midfield in 2016. After attending UMASS for his freshman year, Boyle transferred to Missouri for his sophomore season and made an impact right away for the squad in 2015, splitting time on both first and second line midfield. Last season Boyle tallied the second-most points (eight) of any Tigers midfielder returning in 2016 and will be looking to improve on these numbers this season. Off the field, Boyle is Missouri’s Director of Recruiting and helped bring in one the largest and geographically-diverse freshman classes in program history.
“We’ve got a great group of guys this year, with a lot of freshmen in the mix,” said Boyle. “I am excited to see what this team can do, and I hope I can help lead this team to a successful season down the stretch.”
The Tigers’ first game of the regular season will be on Friday, February 12 at Missouri State, with a scheduled start time of 7:00 p.m.
COLUMBIA – There will be three new faces on the sidelines for the Missouri men’s lacrosse program this season as the Tigers brought on three assistant coaches to help out on the defensive side of the ball.
“Earlier this season Head Coach Clayton Melrose came to me with the idea of restructuring his salary in order to bring on some assistant coaches to better the program,” said team President Phil Bergman. “Coach Melrose loves the Mizzou lacrosse program, and this move shows how much he cares about this team and its growth into the future. As a non-varsity program funds can be tight at times, and a move such this gives us opportunities to get more out of our limited budget.”
Coming back to coach the goalies this season is Eddie Hedrick. One of the most prominent names in mid-Missouri lacrosse, and one of the organizers of youth lacrosse in Columbia, Coach Hedrick is coming back for his 16th season with the program. In October the Mizzou Lacrosse Alumni Association announced the alumni game would be named the “Eddie Hedrick Alumni Game” in his honor.
“Coach Hedrick and Mizzou Lacrosse go hand in hand, and our program is really excited to have him back for another season,” Bergman said. “He brings a wealth of knowledge to the game and is a pleasure to be around, and all the guys, especially the goalies are excited to have him back on the sidelines.”
Born in East Liverpool, Ohio, Coach Hedrick attended Bowling Green State University and was a Division-1 All-American at goalie in 1967. A retired epidemiologist, Coach Hedrick has also coached at Hickman High School and in the Columbia Youth League and in 2003 was the head coach for the West team in the Missouri East vs. West game.
“I love working with the players, and I enjoy celebrating their success on the field as well as in their lives and careers,” Hedrick said. “Currently we have four excellent goalies. Each has his strengths and weaknesses but all seem to be committed to working hard to improve. They are definitely one of the strengths of the team.”
Taking charge as the new defensive coordinator is Hatton Taylor. Raised in the Richmond, Virginia area, Taylor played in the competitive Division-III Centennial Conference for perennial powerhouse Dickinson College before transferring and finishing out his career playing in the SELC at South Carolina. After graduating, Taylor spent time as an assistant with the Gamecocks program and at Deep Run High School and The Steward School, both in Richmond. Currently he is in the final year of his Master’s degree in musical performance with a classical guitar emphasis.
“I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to coach for Mizzou’s Lacrosse,” Taylor said. “Despite being my first year with the program, I am beyond fortunate to be working with such high caliber players. What makes this opportunity great is this team’s prodigious work ethic and unshakable desire to win. These are among the many intangible qualities required for any team to be successful.”
As head of the defensive, Coach Taylor will be in charge of a unit that ranked towards the top in the MCLA and GRLC in goals against average in 2015.
“Our defense is stacked with athleticism, and every one of them are exceptionally hard workers,” said Taylor. “Also, their chemistry is incredible. Their ability to read each other on the field takes time to develop and our veterans have done a great job with getting our rookies up to speed and playing at a higher level. But what is most impressive about our defense is their discipline and accountability, a standard they not only set high for themselves as individuals, but also as a collective unit. We have the potential to be one of the best defenses in the MCLA, and we expect no less of ourselves as we show our opponents that we are not wrong.”
Helping out with Coach Taylor on defense and running the box for the Tigers is Kyle Bader. Originally from Cape Girardeau, Bader moved to metropolitan St. Louis for college to play Division-III lacrosse at Fontbonne University. As a senior in 2013, he started seven games for the Griffins while raking in 13 ground balls and causing six turnovers. Previous coaching stints included stops at Saint Louis University High School and the Kirkwood Youth Lacrosse program. Coach Bader is currently a graduate teaching assistant and a Master of Fine Arts candidate at MU.
“It’s great to be back at the college-level game,” Bader said. “This is the level with the most passion for the game, in my opinion. Being apart of a team at a big university, whether it’s NCAA affiliated or MCLA, is something special.”
Also helping out the Tigers this season as managers are Matt Shepard, Tommy Heidbrink, Martise Harris and Eric Glennon.
If interested in donating to the Mizzou Men’s Lacrosse program, please visit the “History & Alumni” link on the top of the page and then click on the “Donate” button.
COLUMBIA – The University of Missouri Men’s Lacrosse program’s season is officially underway, as the team started spring practices the week of January 18.
This season’s squad features 37 student-athletes, one of the highest numbers for the program in five years.
After a snowstorm hit Columbia during the first week of the semester, the Tigers were forced to move all practices to Hinkson Field, south of campus. While it wasn’t expected, the team adapted quickly and had a very successful week getting the sticks back in their hands.
Starting this week, Mizzou is back on Stankowski Field, the home field for all Mizzou Lacrosse games, with the program getting to use the full-field for practices for the first time in school history. The team is already seeing dividends, as passing and situational-based drills have improved immensely compared to previous seasons.
With only two and a half weeks to go until their first game, the Tigers have also officially released their 2016 spring schedule. The 18-game schedule is the program’s longest since their memorable 2011 season which saw them rank in the MCLA National Polls and will feature three teams ranked in the Under Armour MCLA Coaches Preseason Poll.
The Tigers season will start on the road on Friday, February 12 against Missouri State. Last season the Tigers won a close game at home and had an overtime victory against the Bears during their Fall Ball season.
The following week Mizzou will open up its home slate with games against in-state foe Missouri S&T and 2015 LSA D-II champion Oklahoma State.
After the two contests, the team will travel on their farthest trip of the season for three games against SELC programs. On Friday, February 26, Missouri will be in Tallahassee, Florida taking on No. 19 Florida State, one of the most storied-franchises in the south. This will be the Tigers’ first Top 25 contest since they faced No. 13 Minnesota-Duluth in 2013. The next day the team will travel to Atlanta to take on Central Florida, a team vying for a spot in the Top 25 standings, and North Carolina State.
To start March, the Tigers will be back at home to take on Washington University on Friday. This is the first game between the two programs in more than four years. Following the Friday night showdown, Mizzou will play host to Texas A&M, their first of two games against SEC teams on the schedule.
On Sunday March 13 the Tigers will play their first GRLC opponent of the season, at 2015 GRLC Champion Purdue. The Boilermakers have won two of the previous three GRLC titles and will play Mizzou in a neutral-site game on Washington University’s campus in St. Louis.
The following day Missouri will play host to the Alabama Crimson Tide in a rematch of schools whose football teams competed in the 2014 SEC Championship game. Last season both the Tigers and Crimson Tide competed in the 2015 Allstate Sugar Bowl Lacrosse Classic, but the two schools did not play against each other.
After a bye the weekend of March 19, Missouri will start off a season-long six game road trip by traveling to Bloomington, Indiana on March 26 to play GRLC preseason No. 1 Indiana and No. 21 Davenport University. This will be the first time the Tigers play in Bloomington since the 2013 season.
Following their Spring Break, Missouri will travel to Kansas on April 9 to square off against longtime-rival KU in the Border War game and Kansas State. Over recent years the Tigers have outmatched the Jayhawks on the field, winning eight of the past ten games in the series.
Missouri will finish off its road trip in Ames, Iowa the weekend of April 16 to play No. 23 Minnesota and Iowa State. Minnesota spent most of the 2015 season in the MCLA Top 25 and is one of the favorites to win the UMLC title in 2016. This will be the third season in a row the Tigers and Cyclones square off on the field, with the previous two games taking place in Columbia. Both of the team’s previous matches have been extremely close, with the Tigers winning by one in 2014, and Mizzou needing to go to overtime to beat them in 2015.
The Tigers will end their regular season the weekend of April 22 with games against two of the top teams in the GRLC West, Iowa and Nebraska. Currently the Tigers, Huskers and Hawkeyes are projected to finish as the top-three teams in the West, and a first round bye and No. 1 seed for the conference tournament will be decided in Columbia. Missouri’s game against Nebraska on April 24 will also be Senior Day, as the program will honor its six seniors graduating in May.
The GRLC tournament will take place the weekend of April 29 in St. Louis.
For a complete schedule, check out the “Schedule” link on the top of the website or visit the Mizzou’s MCLA page at mcla.us/team/missouri and make sure to follow @MizzouLacrosse on Twitter for all the latest information.