Making the Most of Shortened Lacrosse Season, PDS Alum Auslander Stars for Christopher Newport
NEW STAR: Coby Auslander unloads the ball this spring during his freshman season for the Christopher Newport University men’s lacrosse team. Princeton Day School alum Auslander made a superb debut for the Captains, scoring 8 goals and 10 assists in six games as the season was halted due to coronavirus pandemic. Last week, he was named as an Inside Lacrosse 2020 Division III All-Freshman midfielder. (Photo provided courtesy of Christopher Newport Athletic Communications)
By Bill Alden
Coby Auslander didn’t know much about Christopher Newport University when he headed down to Newport News, Va., in 2018 to check out the school and its men’s lacrosse program.
It didn’t take long for Auslander, a former boys’ soccer, ice hockey, and lacrosse star at Princeton Day School, to feel at home in the Tidewater area.
“A lot of people up here haven’t heard of Christopher Newport, myself included in the beginning,” said Auslander, a 2019 PDS grad.
“The second I stepped on campus, took the tour, and met with the coach, I knew right away that it was the perfect fit. I looked at my mom and said this school is so beautiful; this campus and the team seems like the culture I want to part of,” he said.
This spring, Auslander emerged as a key part of the team, scoring 8 goals and 10 assists in six games before the season was halted in early March due to coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, Auslander was named to the Inside Lacrosse 2020 Division III All-Freshman team. In choosing Auslander, the publication noted that he “ran on the first line midfield, took the wing on face-offs, was a member of the man-up unit, and played a ton of defense for the Captains.”
For the 5’7, 150-pound Auslander, earning such responsibility didn’t come easy.
“The biggest jump is the athleticism that everybody has at that level; the defenders are big guys, they like to get physical and I am not the biggest guy,” said Auslander. “I rely on speed and putting myself in the right positions. It takes time to learn the college lacrosse way because it is definitely different than high school lacrosse. You pick it up and you have the older guys telling you what to look for so they were definitely very helpful.”
Auslander’s speed and being left-handed helped him carve out a role for the Captains.
“They had me at the offensive midfield position; I did that my senior year PDS so they saw me there,” added Auslander. “The lucky thing for me was that I was one of the only lefties on the team so it really made me feel confident that I had a spot and that I could succeed in that spot.”
Still, coming into the season, Auslander needed a shot of confidence from Christopher Newport head coach Mikey Thompson.
“I didn’t know what the season would hold for me and then I had a meeting with my coach,” said Auslander. “We discussed what the season would look like and he put the confidence in me, saying that he would be relying on me in the offensive part of the game. That put me in a confident position where I had this role of mine to take so I was excited to go out every day. I was very happy about that.”
In the season opener against Washington College on February 15, Auslander justified that confidence, tallying a goal as Christopher Newport prevailed 15-6.
“I was very nervous; I didn’t know that any of my family members would be there and my sister and brother drove down from Connecticut and Massachusetts to see the game,” said Auslander.
“When I saw that, I got a big smile on my face and all of the nerves went away. We went down 3-0; we couldn’t get the offense going at all but then our coach settled us all down in the second quarter. We went on a big run. It was just getting rid of the nerves for all of us and we started to play well.”
During that second quarter run, Auslander found the back of the net for his first collegiate goal.
“It was a great pass and I put myself in a position to score,” said Auslander. “It was the end of a man-up and I got lucky there. It was just nice to break the ice and get the first one out of the way.”
Displaying his passing skill to help trigger the offense in the squad’s second game, Auslander picked up a goal and four assists in a 24-12 win over Roanoke.
“It gave me an opportunity to be far more confident and we all played great,” said Auslander.
“We saw what we were capable of if we work together. From there, I think that is when my confidence started to build. I realized that I could really play at this level and help the team in the big way so that was nice.”
Having put in extra time on developing his shooting to be a bigger scoring threat, Auslander came through with three goals and an assist in 13-9 loss to Ursinus on February 29.
“I am not the best shooter so it took a lot of work with the offensive coordinator and the goalie to stay with me after practice,” said Auslander.
“From there, I got more confidence going to the goal and trying to make plays on my own. In the Ursinus game, I started to feel I could do that and it clicked. I was scoring the ball and knowing that I had the opportunity to go to goal as much as I wanted.”
With the Captains having gotten off to a 5-1 start, the promising campaign was halted in early March as spring sports got canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We had our last practice together and coach brought us together and told us the tough news,” recalled Auslander.
“It was one of those things that you just hated to see and hated to hear, especially looking at the seniors. They are a great group of guys who don’t have the opportunity to go out there anymore. There were some tears. Everybody worked and trained so hard in the offseason and we were having a great year. We were really close as a team and just knowing that those seniors weren’t coming back in general that is something that is really sad.”
While the premature ending was tough to take, Auslander believes the Christopher Newport program has bright prospects going forward.
“The good news for our team is that we only graduate our starting goalie, not to say that the other seniors didn’t have a huge role,” said Auslander.
“Other than the starting goalie, there are juniors and freshmen mainly in the starting lineup. It is definitely something to look forward to. For the freshmen, we got a little taste so now in the offseason, it is hit it even harder and really know what it feels like to play in that situation.”
Currently, Auslander is finishing up his freshman classwork virtually from home in Pennington, keeping in contact with his teammates while also working on his conditioning and stick skills.
“We stay in touch pretty close; the big thing right now with our coach is the One Love Foundation,” said Auslander, referring to the organization that seeks to help young people avoid abusive relationships that was founded in the honor of Yeardley Love, a University of Virginia women’s lacrosse player who was murdered by her boyfriend.
“We are doing “Yards for Yeardley,” trying to get out and run as much as possible and rack up as many miles for the foundation. That is what we have all been doing and really connecting on that. Other than that, I have been shooting a lot with Cal Caputo (PDS senior star); he is going to the college level next year so I am trying to teach him as much as I can.”
When Auslander hits the field next year, he will be bringing a greater sense of urgency in light of the events this spring.
“I would say that is the biggest thing I take away from this and I think everybody can is that every single second you get to be on the field is truly a blessing and it is something you really should cherish,” said Auslander.
“You never know when it may be the last time with your teammates and all the guys. I am grateful that I have more opportunities to go out there. I will always have those guys in my head that didn’t get the opportunity to finish what they started.”