MISSOULA, Mont. — The senior class of 2020 had their season stolen from them.
For reasons outside of their control, they will never be able to pursue goals for which they worked so hard.
As part of a recurring segment for the remainder of this spring, coaches have the opportunity to thank their seniors one last time.
Continuing the series is Montana coach Tucker Sargent honoring his six seniors.
* * *
I wanted to take a moment and recognize the six-man 2020 University of Montana men’s lacrosse team senior class whose season was cut short due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.
These guys helped put Montana back on the national stage.
As freshmen they were part of a team that won the PNCLL D-II championship for the first time in 10 years. Their career also included two trips to the MCLA National Championships presented by New Balance and would have likely produced a third if the season were not cut short.
They helped put Montana in a Top 10 national ranking, reaching as high as No. 9 in the coaches’ poll.
They are also the only MCLA team to travel internationally [other than Canada] and the first lacrosse team from the United States to travel to Mexico and play the Mexican National Team.
Their passion, enthusiasm and dedication to our program has set the tone and culture for what we expect from all future Montana teams.
They eagerly welcomed in new players and helped us cultivate the family atmosphere that makes long seasons and school years fun every day.
They embodied what it means to be a student athlete at the University of Montana, excelling in the classroom, taking advantage and sharing a love for the great outdoors through skiing, backpacking, rafting, fishing, hunting and mountain biking all while putting in hard work everyday on the field and elevating the team.
They come from all different backgrounds and from all over the country: Utah, New York, Georgia, California and Oregon, but have all learned what it means to be a Griz.
Hopefully, some may be back in 2021 and can fulfill their eligibility and finish off what we have started, but if this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that life goes on and we all must adapt.
#2 Trent Tubbs, Midfield
Trabuco Canyon, Calif. (Tesoro)
A four-year player who has spent time at both midfield and attack doing whatever the team needs. In 58 career games, he scored 63 goals, dished out 33 assists and grabbed 70 ground balls.
In 2019, he earned Commanding Performance of the Week and was a second team all-conference selection at midfield in '19.
#8 Eric Mott, Defense
Lake Oswego, Ore. (Lakeridge)
A four-year player who has been a starter at close defense since his freshman year. Eric excels at one-on-one play and takeaways. In 58 career games, he has 162 ground balls and one goal.
He was an honorable mention all-conference pick on defense in 2018 and was a second-team pick last spring. He also picked up Honorable Mention All-American accolades in 2019.
#22 James Pierce, Attack
Akwesasne, N.Y. (Massena Central)
A three-year player who came to Montana following his fiancé so she could pursue her Ph.D. in Psychology, Jimmy enrolled in school just so he could play.
That is how much he loves this game and his enthusiasm is infectious. He's an unrelenting physical attackman and the first man to every practice.
He played in 40 career games, scoring 110 goals, dishing 26 assists, gobbling up 110 ground balls. He was an honorable mention all-conference in 2018.
#24 Luke Johnson, Faceoff Specialist
Rome, Ga. (Darlington)
A four-year player who early on took on a new role as our lead faceoff man as a freshman and became the best Montana has had, as well as pulling duties at midfield and man-down.
In 49 career games, we won 65 percent of his faceoffs, grabbed 235 ground balls, scored 16 goals and dished 7 assists. Luke was second team all-conference from 2017-19.
#31 Aidan Larson, Attack
Salt Lake City, Utah (Judge Memorial)
A four-year player who started as a freshman at attack and played there until his senior season when he transitioned to midfield to highlight his athleticism and ability to score and play defense.
He played 48 career games, scoring 97 goals, dishing 48 assists and snagging 104 ground balls.
He was 2017 honorable mention all-conference attack, 2019 first team all-conference attack and 2019 Second Team All-America.
#32 Alex Thoms, Defense
Newark, N.Y. (Newark)
A three-year player who came to Montana after a serving in the United States Marine Corps and a stint in the oil fields of North Dakota.
Thoms brought a humility, work ethic, toughness and life experience that most college players had never been exposed to.
Helping wherever we needed him defensively, playing both LSM and close defense, and always put team first. He played in 38 career games, scoring 69 ground balls and a goal.
I sincerely hope that this is not the end for all of them and would welcome every single player back with open arms should they want to finish out their eligibility.
Griz lacrosse is better for having them spent time with us.