Pfeiffer Athletics renames soccer, lacrosse venue

Published 9:50 am Thursday, March 28, 2024

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Lacrosse alumni from the last four decades and their families were on hand on March 23 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of men’s lacrosse at Pfeiffer University and celebrate the renaming of the newly renovated soccer and lacrosse competition field as Lefko-Mills Field.

The special announcement regarding the new field name was made ahead of the Pfeiffer men’s lacrosse victory over Piedmont University. A dedication and public recognition of donors to the project is planned as a part of the Homecoming game day schedule on Oct. 19.

The venue, which was recently upgraded with an artificial turf surface, was originally named after long-time head soccer coach Nicholas E. Lefko, a 1937 graduate who coached at Pfeiffer from 1959-74 and was enshrined as a charter member of the Pfeiffer Sports Hall of Fame in 1990. He also was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in 1979.
Lefko coached three All-Americans and guided his 1965 team to a 10-1 overall record, leading them to a national ranking. Lefko would serve at Pfeiffer as a coach and professor for 42 years.

Randolph P. Mills Jr. served as a lacrosse assistant coach and was instrumental in recruiting many of the players who were ultimately the foundation of the Pfeiffer men’s lacrosse program in the mid-1980s.

Mills used his connections in the northeastern part of the country to recruit talented players to the program. Known as the Johnny Appleseed of Lacrosse, Mills founded programs at Pfeiffer University, Limestone University, Neumann University and Cabrini College.

He also started club teams and recreation programs at Gardner-Webb University and UCLA among many others. In 1996, Mills was named Man of the Year by the Pennsylvania Coaches Association and was subsequently recognized by the NCAA for having the highest winning percentage in Division III.

Pfeiffer’s field before (above) and after (below).

Prior to the game, Pfeiffer President Dr. Scott Bullard addressed those in attendance, recognizing the importance of athletics to the overall student experience at Pfeiffer and thanking lacrosse alumni, soccer alumni and friends of the university who have provided financial support to make the installation of an artificial turf surface a reality. Bullard noted that the new field name recognizes two central figures in Pfeiffer’s outstanding soccer and lacrosse history.

1986 graduate Tom Mills, a Pfeiffer lacrosse alumnus and son of coach Randy Mills, also thanked donors to the field upgrade for their generosity, reminding the crowd that the early teams “played over there in that patch of grass and dirt,” referring to what is now a practice field.

“All teams that use this field, from the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams, both soccer programs, the track and field program, as well as the general student body have something to be proud of,” he said. “With the addition of this beautiful turf field that stands next to our excellent softball facility, Pfeiffer is continuing its resurgence, and we are all happy and proud to be a part of it.”

The completed turf surface will cut field preparation time for Pfeiffer’s athletic staff, in addition to allowing for improved drainage and safer competition following periods of rainy weather.

Before Saturday’s game, the field absorbed almost an inch of rain from a weather system that came through the area on Friday.

During Mills’ remarks he said, “If we didn’t have this turf right now, the rains that we got yesterday would’ve deemed this field unplayable today, and we wouldn’t be here to celebrate our great university and this special place with each other.”

Lefko-Mills Field has been home to numerous championship teams over the years. Using available records, the venue has been home to four men’s lacrosse tournament championship teams (1997, 1998, 2021, 2023) and a pair of regular season championships (2021, 2023).

The women’s lacrosse team has brought four titles back to The Village, winning conference tournament titles in 2004, 2005 and 2007 and a regular season title in 2005.

The Pfeiffer women’s soccer team won the 2000 and 2005 regular season conference championships as well as the 2008, 2010 and 2013 tournament titles. In Pfeiffer’s Division III era, the women’s soccer team claimed the first team title across all sports in capturing the USA South East Division crown in 2019.

The Falcon men’s soccer program has won several championships, most notably the 2015 NCAA Division II National Championship. Falcon men’s soccer also won the 1997, 2015 and 2016 regular season conference championship as well as the 2014, 2015 and 2016 conference tournaments.

Lead donors to the turf field upgrade will be honored as a part of a dedication ceremony planned for Homecoming 2024. New signage will be added to the field area to recognize those who helped bring the project to life. Gifts of $1,000 or more that are received by June 30 will be included on the new field signage.