Lacrosse Team Makes First Appearance at SoCon Tournament

Coach Purpura with lacrosse team

James Purpura, head coach, led VMI lacrosse to its first-ever Southern Conference Tournament appearance in spring 2021.—Photo courtesy VMI Keydets.

The VMI lacrosse team continued to make huge strides as a program throughout the 2022 season.

In his second season at the helm, James Purpura, head lacrosse coach, led VMI to several program firsts. With the Keydets’ 13-10 victory over Mercer April 2, VMI won its first conference game in eight years and its first Southern Conference win in program history (VMI joined the SoCon in 2015). VMI last won a league game as a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference during the 2014 campaign. The win over Mercer was VMI’s first win at home in three seasons and first over the Bears since the 2012 season.

With the win over Mercer coupled with a victory over new SoCon member Hampton April 23, the Keydets qualified for the SoCon Tournament for the first time in program history. Although VMI ultimately fell by a 13-5 score to nationally ranked No. 11 Jacksonville, the game was significant for the program in that it marked just the second time in the program’s 39 -year history of qualifying for a postseason tournament. VMI last played in a postseason tourney at the 2008 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament.

The Keydets earned a hard-fought 8-7 win over Mount St. Mary’s on the road March 4 to mark their first win over The Mount in 17 years.

After the regular season, Hartley Jordan ’23, midfielder, was named First Team All-Southern Conference and Luke Rusterucci ’25, attacker, was named to the SoCon All-Freshman Team.

Jordan ranked fourth in the SoCon in shots per game at 8.07 and finished second on the team in both goals (25) and shots (121) and third in points (36) and assists (11). For his efforts, he was named the program’s Offensive Player of the Year.

Rusterucci finished fourth in the SoCon in assists per game at 1.53 and ranked first on the team in assists (23—tied for 10th all-time at VMI for a single season), second in points (39), and third in goals (16). Named the team’s Rookie of the Year, he logged 30 groundballs for the season, and his 11 conference game assists rank tied for fifth in a single season at VMI.

The Keydets improved in nearly every statistic throughout the course of the season (goals for, goals against, EMO, clearing, face-off, save percentage).

For the breakout season, Purpura was named head coach of the South Team at the 2022 USILA North/South Senior All-Star Game contested Memorial Day weekend in Providence, Rhode Island.