Jorge Corrales/Contributing Writer
FIU Lacrosse is quickly moving up the ladder in its quest to become a nationally recognized program.
The team is led by Head Coach Mark Parets. Parets is no stranger to the lacrosse scene in Florida; he played attack at Florida State University from 1989 to 1992. He’s been a coach in the South Florida area since 1997. Parets even earned a ring as a coach at Gulliver Preparatory School.
In 2012, Parets was inducted into the South Florida US Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
The Panthers’ leader on the field is Senior attacker Eric Quisenberry, or “Q”. Quisenberry played at Palmer Trinity High School and played one year at Louisiana State University before returning to Miami to play at FIU.
“I came back to play on the FIU squad because a lot of my friends were on the team,” Quisenberry said.
Quisenberry has been a captain each of the last three years and will be the president of the team this coming year.
Next season, the team will compete in the Florida Lacrosse League as they hope gain recognition and receive an invite to play in the MCLA D1 (Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association).
The Panthers would play in the Southeastern Lacrosse Conference (SELC) along with schools like: the University of Miami, Florida State University and the University of Central Florida.
FIU got a taste of the competition they would face as a part of the SELC. In March of this year, the Panthers took on the Golden Knights of the University of Central Florida.
The Golden Knights came in as the number one ranked team in Florida at the time and were heavily favored against the Panthers. FIU went into halftime up 8-3 and in good position to upset the Knights. At the end of regulation, the score was 11-11.
The Panthers eventually fell short in double overtime but the game was a major step forward for the program. It was the first double overtime game in FIU history. Quisenberry had a huge game for the Panthers, scoring six goals and having five assists.
“It was a huge step towards the right direction because we were supposed to lose by 20 points,” Quisenberry said. “It was also my first game getting 11 points in one game while at FIU.”
Games like this are what fuel great rivalries in sports. When the Panthers do eventually begin play in the MCLA, you can bet the UCF Knights will remember their prior meeting with FIU.
The Panthers will have a few warm up games before starting their season next January.
Late this year, FIU Lacrosse will be taking on the Israeli National Lacrosse team, which is made up of professional players for the second time.
The Panthers will also have the honor of playing the first lacrosse game on Alfonso Field at FIU stadium. In January, they will be taking on the University of Miami as an opener for an NCAA D1 game.
Under the leadership of players like Quisenberry, the program will continue to grow and improve.
“We have a great group of guys out there,” Quisenberry said. “They are willing to put it all on the line to get this program where it should be.”
Photos courtesy of Eric Quisenberry