Welcome to ‘The Coug Nation’ , senior Eric Zacharias from the Claremont Cougars will be joining MCLA Fan this spring for a season-long look into Claremont’s lacrosse team. This is the first installment, look forward to more great stuff out of Southern Cal.
Eric Zacharias (#14) is a Senior Defender and Team President for the Claremont Cougars. Originally from San Diego, playing lacrosse four years at La Jolla High School, Eric is now a dual major in Economics and Math at Claremont McKenna College.In his free time Eric is an unabashed Claremont Cougar and San Diego Chargers/Padres homer.
As the oldest club program in Southern California and drawing from the smallest enrollment pool of all MCLA DI, the Claremont Colleges Cougars are a unique program facing challenges to compete and succeed in the MCLA. The team started in 1958 became a founding member of the WCLL in 1978. After years of evolution and developing an identity in the WCLL, the Cougars became a powerhouse and title contender in B division under the leadership of Coach Pete Ginnegar. Coach G took over the program in 2004 and has yet to see a losing season. With a string of winning seasons the Cougs gained national recognition spending several seasons in the mid 2000s ranked in the B division top 5, reaching as high as number 1 in the nation all while developing a bitter rivalry with another WCLL B division standout program Univ. San Diego (the teams have played 3 OT games in the past 3 season, all won by the Cougars). Both Claremont and USD made the jump to WCLL A in2007. Claremont shocked the A division while compiling an impressive 11 win season and reaching the WCLL A playoffs all while drawing from an enrollment pool of under 5000 students, the smallest of any MCLA program and playing much of the season without Coach Ginnegar on the sidelines while he battled cancer. Claremont continued to overachieve being voted 18th and 23rd in the nation in 2008 and 2009 respectively narrowly missing a return to the national playoffs where the club had excelled at the division B level. The Cougs made the jump to the SLC in the 2009 season which was highlighted by the team’s first win over national power UC-Santa Barbara led by a standout senior class and junior 1st team AA LSM Max Sanford. Under Sanford and Coach Ginnegar’s leadership the team overcame the loss of its strongest graduating class to post another winning season going 9-4.
In order to compete at a competitive level, the Claremont Cougars draw athletes from the 4 of the 5 college consortium in Claremont, Ca – Claremont McKenna College, Pomona College, Harvey Mudd College, Pitzer College. Many of the members of the team are two sport athletes who are unable to spend the fall with the team. Despite the obvious disadvantages, the team has been able to compete with league rivals more than 6 times the size in large part due to work ethic and unparalleled support from the colleges. The Cougars are able to host home games in a very special environment by playing on their field located in the dead center of the small Claremont McKenna College Campus surrounded by student dorms – often drawing large, energetic crowds [Editor's note: Gorgeous campus, we had the chance to play there last year and it was one of the nicest campuses I've been on.]. The access to a practice facility also enables the team to thrive. Most importantly the support and time of academic advisor/team director John Faranda and Coach Ginnegar has helped the program grow and succeed.
While still young (6 seniors) the Cougars are more experienced, we look to return in 2011 to the national rankings and SLC playoffs powered by a strong defense led by Captain Defender Robey Miller, standout Goalie Sam Bennett, and Captain DM Alex Bargmann led by 2nd year assistant coach and former NCAADII HM AA Doug Logan. The offense is led by Captain David Cook and a mix of underclassmen all looking to have breakout seasons. After a very successful fall ball where the Cougs looked as strong as ever and went undefeated in their scrimmages, we face arguably the toughest schedule in Claremont history facing off with OOC foes such as BYU, Cal Poly, Cal, and Texas St.
This is the first installment of what will be a season-long series the Claremont Cougars are doing with MCLA Fan. Stay tuned for the next installment! For more Cougar news, head over to 412′s recent post on their new gloves or to their team website hither.