The Chicago Bulls had Michael Jordan, the New England Patriots have Tom Brady and the UCSB men’s lacrosse team has Will Patton.
Every championship team has a player who comes up big in the clutch, and Patton has repeatedly done just that for the two-time National Champion Gauchos. In this year’s Western Collegiate Lacrosse League (WCLL) championship game, Patton scored the game-tying goal with two minutes left, and then scored the game-winner from his knees with 1:17 remaining. Two weeks later, Patton scored two third-quarter goals to tie the national championship game, which UCSB went on to win.
“Will, more than any other player on the field, has the ability to come up in the clutch,” senior goalie Ryan Brittain said. “He takes face-offs, so he can control games single-handedly.” Despite his accomplishments, Patton would be the last person to take credit for carrying his team to comeback victories.
“It’s not about me – it’s all because of my team,” Patton said. “Your team puts you in those positions to succeed.”
While helping the Gauchos win three WCLL championships and two national titles, Patton has racked up his share of individual awards. He was recently named to his third straight All-American team, and has also picked up a number of awards for his championship game performances. He is a three-time WCLL Championship Game Final Player of the game and has twice been named United States Lacrosse Intercollegiate Associates (USLIA) Tournament Offensive MVP.
“It’s nice to be recognized, but the most important thing is that our team wins and that I can help instill a good work ethic in the younger players and the rest of the team,” Patton said.
The San Rafael, Calif. native has helped instill that work ethic by being one of the team’s captains for the last two years. Patton has been part of a senior class that has taken the program to new levels of success.
“Our class worked so hard and what we did was extremely hard to do, since everyone is gunning for you when you’re the defending national champs,” Patton said. “The whole program has stepped up a level and it’s something we’re really proud of.” Patton’s work ethic and passion for lacrosse have helped him thrive in an environment that is often hard to focus in.
“Just by hard work alone and his ability to avoid off-the-field distractions, he’s become one of the best players in our league,” Brittain said. “He cares a lot about what he’s doing and about this program.”
With his UCSB career now over, Patton may be on to even bigger and better things when it comes to lacrosse. He has been invited to try out for the San Jose Stealth, a member of the fast-growing National Lacrosse League. Should Patton make the team, he will be one of the first WCLL players to play professionally, a feat that is very rare for club athletes.
Wherever Patton plays, you can be sure that he’ll be coming up big when it’s crunch-time – and having fun while he’s doing it.
“I always have fun when I’m playing lacrosse,” Patton said. “I’ve really enjoyed playing, and I can’t wipe that smile off my face.”