New head coach Jon Bongiorno leads men’s lacrosse team’s turnaround
Oregon men’s club lacrosse went 2-10 in the Pacific Northwest Collegiate Lacrosse League Division I last year. Since then, the team has done a complete 180, achieving a record of 9-2 so far this season.
This dramatic shift is owed in large part to a transition in the coaching staff. After more than eight years with the program, Jon Bongiorno moved from assistant coach to head coach. He has made a profound impact on the culture of the team, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“Towards the end of last year, when [Bongiorno] assumed more responsibilities due to our poor record, things were fixed a lot,” said senior Liam Delumpa, a team captain and the only four-year player on the team. “I think this year as head coach, and being in control, his organizational skills have really contributed to our success.”
Bongiorno credits his team’s success to not only the talent, but the commitment and hard work that each player puts in on the field. The importance of culture is something he reiterates, especially with all the new players on the team.
“[Out of] 44 [players] on our roster in the beginning of the year, 22 were new to the program,” Bongiorno said. “We added two new coaches to the coaching staff, so out of the four coaches and 44 players, literally half are new.”
The new players are made up of transfers and freshmen, many of whom have already established prominent roles on the team. Sam Snider, a freshman who transferred from Colorado to Oregon in the winter, immediately stepped into the starting position at goalie. Another transfer, Michael Marcott, came to Oregon from the University of Denver, the 2015 NCAA men’s lacrosse champions. He was named team captain only six weeks after arriving on campus.
Junior Midfielder Lucas Kuchta, one of the returning athletes from last year, is happy with the new talent that the team has gained.
“Last year sucked,” Kuchta said. “I think that I can speak for a lot of the guys that were here. We’ve lost some important players, but the good thing about that is that there are young guys and new players stepping up to the occasion.”
With three more games in the regular season, the team has high hopes for what lies ahead.
“After not making the conference tournament last year, that was a big point of emphasis,” Bongiorno said. “The immediate goal is to get better every single opportunity you have. Then at the end, it’s to win our league, win our league tournament, get that bid to the national tournament and then see where it goes from there.”
The Ducks’ confidence is at an all-time high. Sophomore Troy Romstad, one of the 22 newcomers to the team, has witnessed it this season.
“Coach preaches that he wants us to be fast, confident and fundamentally sound,” Romstad said. “So we’ve definitely got a lot of the confidence, and we’ve shown that, when we’re at our best, we can play with any team in the nation.”
This team’s only two losses come from two of the top-ranked teams in the country: No. 1 Chapman and previously-ranked No. 3 Colorado.
“They take care of each other off the field,” Bongiorno said. “And that’s where you get into that family dynamic. Any coach will tell you: If you can get a team that’s more like a family, that’s when you tap into that hidden growth potential of the team. Honestly it’s just them, not me. I just give them some structure and they’re good to go.”
Follow Kylee O’Connor on Twitter @KyleeTheMightee
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