April 16, 2009
BOSTON, MA - All lacrosse players know that there is nothing pretty about playing defense. It's always the goal scorers that receive the credit and attention, while the defenders are left to do the dirty work. Luckily for the UMass Boston Men's Lacrosse team, senior defensemen Matt Dunn (Milton, MA) loves to get his hands dirty.
Dunn, a four year starter, came into the program not knowing what to expect playing at the next level, but quickly found out just what it was like to play collegiate lacrosse.
"I came in my freshman year and was much smaller than I am today, and it was a challenge," said Dunn. "Since then, I've worked very hard physically to become a stronger player and now when I go out there, I play with confidence. I don't care who I'm playing against anymore, I'll take on anyone."
That's easy to say for the 6' 3'', 230 pounder but is the truth. If you've ever watched Dunn play, it's evident that he's not your everyday defensemen. He'll sacrifice his body without giving it a second thought, dive at a loose ball if he thinks it may benefit the team, and ultimately, do anything for the UMass Boston Beacons that he is asked to.
"Hey, somebody's got to do it," said Dunn about his job as a defender. "I've always played defense so I'm pretty used to it by now. To me it's not about the numbers, it's about making contributions to the team that they'll appreciate, and they do, so that's all that matters."
To date, Dunn has not missed a single game for the Beacons and if the streak continues, will finish his career with 57 games played to rank 10th all-time in program history. He's helped lead his teams to the Little East Conference playoffs in three consecutive seasons and hopes to continue the trend this year.
"Playing lacrosse for UMass Boston has been a great time. I've had no regrets about coming here to compete because it's a great school to be playing for."
Known by his teammates as a very vocal leader, Dunn has also led by example this past season in ways that many would never attempt. On April 4th during the Beacons conference game against UMass Dartmouth, the senior defender suffered a hair-line fracture in his right wrist. This type of injury usually requires a hard cast for 2-3 weeks but Dunn refused to be casted knowing that it would sideline him for the remainder of his final campaign. Some might consider him crazy but in his mind, he wasn't going to give up that easily. Dunn will go out just the same way he came in, fighting.
And at times during his career at UMass Boston, there have been a number of opportunities when he could very easily have packed it in and called it quits. Over the past three years, Dunn has played for three coaches and watched the program go through what many would call a rebuilding phase, but it hasn't stopped the Milton native from coming to practice every single day with the attitude that there is still work to be done, and time left to do it.
"Every program goes through tough times, but it's the programs that can come out of them that make the news. It hasn't been easy, especially right now, but I believe Coach [Rick] Peterson will help get things back on track and build the program back up to where it once was," said Dunn.
One reason Dunn has been able to make it through the tough times is the constant support from his parents, Diane and Richard. Like Dunn, the two have never missed a game in four years, are avid supporters of the UMass Boston Lacrosse program and have even started their own tradition. After every home game, Beacons fans head to Mr. Dunn's grill for some freshly cooked burgers to enjoy with the players.
"Having both of my parents at every game makes it really fun to play," said Dunn. "I'm the only one in my family that has ever played lacrosse so I really appreciate their support throughout the years."
As his playing days at UMass Boston begin to wind down, Dunn recalls some of the highlights of his career with the Beacons that will stick with him forever.
"It's been a great run and there are certain games that I'll always remember like the 5-4 overtime win against Wentworth in 2008. I've also played with some great players here too, like Chris Hanafin and played for a great coach in Myles Berry. What can I say; it's been a great run."
One career highlight Dunn neglected to mention recently took place this past week in UMass Boston's game against Keene State College. For the first time in his collegiate career, the defensemen found the back of the net and scored a goal against his biggest rival.
"It felt good, real good. I'm not a big fan of Keene so to score against them was great."
When the day finally comes for Dunn to hang up his Beacons jersey one last time, he will be remembered as a hard-nosed competitor that always gave everything he could. As many defensemen know, his numbers do not do him justice for the contributions he's made on the field, but to Dunn, the numbers never mattered. It was always about just going out there and playing hard. It was strictly business and that's why the Beacons will truly miss the blue collared defensive prowess of number 10 roaming the backfield in years to come.