From Scarlet Knight to Setter: Pace Men’s Lacrosse Welcomes Connor Vercruysse


Pace Athletics

Graduate student Connor Vercruysse debuts his Division-I skills at Pace’s home opener.

Sequoia Cumming, Editor In Chief

Pace men’s lacrosse has opened their season with a 2-0 start after defeating Dominican College and LIU Post, with much help from newcomer Connor Vercruysse, who scored six goals against Dominican and one goal in the Setters’ upset over LIU.

Vercruysse graduated from Rutgers University this past Spring and decided to continue his educational and athletic career at Pace by way of encouragement from his hometown connections.

“I got to give a lot of credit to one of my best friends on the team, Tomas Rodriguez,” said Vercruysse. “He kind of recruited me to come here. It’s close to home, I’ve known Coach [Tom] Mariano for a long time, and I have some friends on the team, so it worked out well.”

Pace men’s lacrosse now has five Yorktown-natives on its roster including Vercruysse, Rodriguez, Louis Ragusa, Richie Giannasca, and Christian Torres. These familiar faces made it easy for Vercruysse to adjust to the new team.

At Rutgers, he was twice named to the Academic All-Big Ten Team and even scored a hat-trick in the Big Ten Semifinals vs. No. 2 Maryland. With these accomplishments, the adjustment from a Division-I program to Division-II was simple for Vercruysse.

“It’s really just the speed of play, and the IQ, and Rutgers has a lot more coaches, whereas here we have three,” said the attackman. “Other than that, it’s a competitive game, and that competition is always the same.”

Vercruysse’s D-I experience and age put him on a bit of a pedestal over his younger teammates, but he uses these components to further encourage and teach the other Setters.

“I was actually fortunate enough to be voted captain by the team this year, so that was pretty cool,” said Vercruysse. “I spent four years playing at Rutgers, so I have a bunch of experience. A lot of the younger guys I think recognize and look up to that. Being older definitely helps in the leadership aspect.”

The new Setter is doing well for himself so far. With his six goals in the season opener, Vercuysse was the highest point scorer of the game.

“We’re taking it one week at a time, one game at a time, just like we always will,” said Vercruysse. “Any personal success is a success for the team. In the long run, it’s just everyone trying to get better and preparing for each team.”

Even though he is becoming well-adjusted to Pace and his teammates, there will always be a part of him back at Rutgers with the Scarlet Knights.

“I think I just miss my old teammates,” said Vercruysse. “Obviously you come here and you meet new teammates, and new friends, but it’s always tough leaving a family and joining a new one. I’m really fortunate for the guys I came into at Pace because they’re very accepting, very open, and really just a loving family.”

After experiencing his own injuries, a broken hand and a torn meniscus, the graduate student has advice for his new teammates on perseverance.

“Don’t take anything for granted,” Vercruysse said. “I had a few injuries in my first few years at Rutgers that I didn’t necessarily know how I would recover from, so I would go day-by-day. Take everything that you get, because you never know when it’s going to be the last time you’ll ever be able to play in a game again. So just take in every day, be present in the moment, and don’t take anything for granted.”

As for his supporters at home, he always tries to make his siblings proud.

“I have two older brothers,” said Vercruysse. “I still talk to them pretty often. They’ve always been my role models growing up and they’re big supporters of lacrosse.”

Vercruysse and the rest of the men’s lacrosse team are back in action next Sunday afternoon at Pace Stadium.