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UNB Buccaneers drop season opener

It may not have been the result the UNB Buccaneers were looking for, but the fact that the team finally made its debut on Saturday made the game a success.

“It was a dream come true,” said Evan Richtsfeld, one of the team’s captains. “I know the result wasn’t what we were expecting but to me just getting this team out here and getting things going … the goal is achieved.”

Richtsfeld, who was one of the team’s captains on Saturday along with Ben Sweet, Matt Jay and Mackenzie McCoy, has been working for the past two years to get this team off the ground. As the team found out on Saturday at the BMO Centre, there will be some growing pains.

The Buccaneers got off to a good start, scoring the first goal of the game just a couple minutes in. But the first-year Maritime University Field Lacrosse League (MUFLL) team would ultimately fall 22-7 to the St. Francis Xavier X-Men.

“We started off really good,” said Richtsfeld. “Things were going really good. But there’s a learning curve for the guys. We’ll get better.”

After giving up the first goal of the match, the X-Men responded with three straight of their own and would end up leading 5-2 at the end of the first quarter.

UNB responded well in the second quarter, scoring three straight to tie the game at 5-5. But the X-Men then started to pull away for good, scoring five in the frame.

StFX controlled much of the second half as they led 16-6 after the third quarter and added another six in the fourth. UNB struggled to generate scoring chances in the final frame with their lone goal coming with less than two minutes to play.

Despite the lopsided score, UNB coach Gary Wallace said there were plenty of positives to take away from the game.

“The score didn’t indicate how they played,” Wallace said of his squad. “We tied up a very good team in the first half. There were a lot of good things out there.

“We’re a new team, we’re still figuring it out, and an experienced team like StFX capitalized on that in the second half and that’s why the score got away on us. But, there were some really good things I saw out there.”

The Buccaneers’ roster varies from lacrosse veterans to those who are fairly new to the sport. Despite the different levels of playing experience, Wallace said the team worked together well.

“They came together and they played like a team. Where they succeeded was that they realized mistakes they made on a previous play or shift and they corrected it.”

The rain started to come down heavily just as the game started. It poured for much of the first half and started up again later on. Although the conditions weren’t ideal, the Buccaneers said it didn’t have much of a negative effect on them.

“I don’t think the rain had any effect,” said Richtsfeld. “We’re playing against good competition and we’re a fairly new team so there’s going to be a learning curve. You can’t expect to come into this league and run things. But we certainly can do our best and that’s all we can hang our heads on right now.”

“This is a beautiful field,” said Wallace as he glanced around BMO Centre’s artificial turf surface. “You battle the elements in this game. You can play in the mud and muck so this is pretty nice.”

Despite the downpour, a healthy crowd attended the match. At least half the bleachers were filled while others chose to stand along the sidelines.

“It was awesome,” Richtsfeld commented about the crowd. “It’s really cool to see the university get behind us — even in the rain. That was great. It’s awesome to have the support and it’s a pretty good feeling.”

UNB is on the road this weekend, travelling to Acadia University on Saturday and Saint Mary’s University on Sunday. Their next home game is on Sunday, Sept. 21 against Dalhousie University.

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