Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Off to a good start: the University of Tampa lacrosse program

University of Tampa lacrosse players warm up with exercises during practice Tuesday. The team played its first game Feb. 10. They beat Florida Southern 7-4.

Edmund D. Fountain | Times

University of Tampa lacrosse players warm up with exercises during practice Tuesday. The team played its first game Feb. 10. They beat Florida Southern 7-4.

TAMPA — The sound of construction on the Bob Martinez Athletics Center echoes across the campus on this clear, sunny day.

Look past the center to the Art and Polly Pepin Stadium and you see something else being constructed: a lacrosse team.

After several years of being a club sport, the University of Tampa now has a collegiate lacrosse team. The Spartans compete in the Deep South Conference, a Division II lacrosse-only league composed of nine teams: UT, Catawba, Florida Southern, Florida Tech, Lenoir-Rhyne, Mars Hill, Rollins, St. Leo and Wingate.

The Spartans (4-2, 3-0 in Deep South play) host Pennsylvania's Misericordia University at 7 p.m. today in the first of seven consecutive home games this month. Admission is $5; children 10 and younger are free.

The Spartans are in good hands with head coach Rory Whipple, who launched his fourth startup college lacrosse program with UT.

"I've been involved with lacrosse since I was 5," Whipple said with a smile. "After college, I got right into college coaching."

Whipple attended Cortland State (New York) and played on the Cortland State 1975 NCAA Division II championship lacrosse team. He is currently the all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division II lacrosse.

Whipple entered the Spartans' inaugural game against Florida Southern on Feb. 10 unsure of what kind of team he would guide. But the game proved memorable as UT pulled out a 7-4 win against the Mocs, a program he started and coached prior to being named UT's head coach.

"After 30 years of college coaching, that's probably in my top five quality wins," Whipple said. "I was pretty elated. We beat a competitive team in its fourth year. That was a big win for our program."

He also said that Florida Southern was their most difficult opponent to date.

"They were second in the conference last year. There was a lot of emotion going into that game."

Whipple isn't tempering his goals just because this is the school's inaugural year of play.

"We're trying to challenge for a Deep South Conference Championship and right now we're undefeated (in conference play)," Whipple said. "We're going to take each game one by one and try to win the conference championship. It would be pretty exciting and a great accomplishment for our players and our program."

Greg Khanzadian is one of the players trying to bring that conference championship to Tampa. Khanzadian is a senior transfer from Roanoke College (Virginia), where he played for two years. He's one of the UT captains and a faceoff specialist.

"We knew we were a young team and it would be an uphill challenge to develop a team attitude and team chemistry," Khanzadian said. "All things considered, it's still early in the season and I think we've come a good bit. We have a long ways to go, but I am pleased with the way things are going and the way things are being handled thus far."

Khanzadian has been involved with lacrosse and playing since he was in the eighth grade, when he got tired of baseball. I picked up a lacrosse stick and found out it was pretty similar to football — "a lot of fast-paced excitement."

Even with more than seven years of experience, nothing compared with playing in Tampa's inaugural game. UT president Ronald Vaughn and Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn were among the crowd of 2,100.

"It was something else," Khanzadian said. "I've never been involved with a game quite like that. Between the amount of people that showed up, the marching band, all the fans — it made it very exciting and like nothing I had been a part of before. It was amazing."

Khanzadian shares the same optimism that his coach shares. He thinks a Deep South Conference title is well within reach and says it would be very special to him.

"I'm not sure if there are many teams that can say they've ever accomplished something like that," Khanzadian said. "We definitely have the tools and skill and knowledge to do it. We have experience and a lot of older guys that have been in those types of games before. It's well within our grasp. If it's something we're able to accomplish, it's definitely something I will cherish.

"What we do after that is certainly up to us. We definitely have some work to do, but I'm looking positively at the postseason."

Paul Driscoll can be reached at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

>> fast facts

Lacrosse basics

• 10 players on the field per team: one goalie, three defensemen, three midfielders, three attackmen

• Four 15-minute quarters with a 10-minute half. Each team is given a two-minute break between the first and second quarters, and the third and fourth quarters.

• In the event of a tie, the teams play sudden death overtime.

• The field is 110 yards long by 60 yards wide.

Source: University of Tampa

sports information department

Off to a good start: the University of Tampa lacrosse program 03/08/12 [Last modified: Thursday, March 8, 2012 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigns over 'inappropriate conduct'

    College

    OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze was at Jackson Country Club on Wednesday night, giving his yearly rah-rah speech about the Rebels overcoming adversity and getting ready for the college football season.

    If Hugh Freeze hadn’t resigned, Ole Miss says it would have fired him for violating his contract’s moral turpitude clause.
  2. Fennelly: With playoff chase in high gear, it's time for Rays to make a move

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Thursday was an off-day for the Rays, who are coming off a solid western swing. I assume there was no rest for the tag-team Rays baseball brain trust of Matt Silverman, Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom, whose job it is to improve this team in advance of the trade deadline. They've done a good job …

    Evan Longoria is glad to see the Rangers coming to town: He’s batting .296 against them with 15 homers and 56 RBIs in 69 career games.
  3. Rays vs. Rangers, 7:10 p.m. Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Rangers

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  4. Good news for Rays on Steven Souza Jr. as MRI shows 'no damage' to hip

    Blogs

    The Rays got good news today on RF Steven Souza Jr., as an MRI showed "no damage" to his left hip.

    Steven Souza Jr. #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays holds his leg after hurting himself trying to steal second base in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on July 19, 2017 in Oakland, California.
  5. Bucs raise prices for single tickets to marquee games

    Blogs

    The Bucs will have single-game tickets for 2017 home games on sale July 28, with a new wrinkle: the best games will cost more for fans.

    Bucs fans cheer Jameis Winston after a victory in their final home game of the 2016 season. Individual tickets for the Bucs' three most coveted home games (against the Patriots, Bears and Giants) will cost more in 2017.