KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On May 16, the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team earned themselves a ticket to the 2021 NCAA DI Men's Lacrosse Championship quarterfinals after beating Drexel 10-8 in the first round.
Midfielder Wheaton Jackoboice from Kansas City, Missouri, scored three goals in the match — the third coming with 1:19 remaining in the game to give the Irish the lead.
It’s a contrast from last year, when there was no tournament to play in.
“I know a lot of guys were bummed out, obviously, last year. This time last year, we were at home on our couch, didn’t have any lacrosse to watch and didn’t really have any sports to watch,” Jackoboice said. “It’s been a really awesome experience being able to finally be back, be competing, and now there’s a chance to go to the Final Four on the line this Sunday against Maryland.”
The undefeated No.3 Maryland team took down Vermont in the first round of the NCAA tournament 17-11 and will be the Irish’s next opponent.
“It’s going to be a battle. It’s going to be a close one and it just comes down to who really wants it more on Sunday,” Jackoboice said.
Jackoboice's journey in lacrosse began in sixth grade. He said he grew to love the game, playing throughout grade school into high school. He spent two years at Rockhurst before transferring to Culver Military Academy to strengthen his lacrosse game.
He was originally committed to Brown University, but was offered by Norte Dame his junior year.
In South Bend, Jackoboice continues the family Irish tradition. Wheaton’s father was a member of the varsity swim team. His grandfather played hockey at Notre Dame and great grandfather played football.
“I didn’t get the swimming genes that my dad had or anything, but I fell in love with lacrosse and ended up in the right spot. I think I made the best decision, I loved every moment at Notre Dame.”
Even while away from home, Jackoboice makes his Kansas City roots known.
“Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Kansas City. I think half of my wardrobe is made up of random Kansas City shirts or Chiefs shirts or Royals stuff,” he said. “I love representing Kansas City. I don’t think I’d be here without it.”
Jackoboice said he always receives so much support from those back home, from rooting for him in his games to the club team helping him train.
After the season is done, Jackoboice will spend the summer back home helping coach Team KC Lacrosse and training to come back to Notre Dame to use his additional year of eligibility while pursuing his master's degree in business analytics.
“I hope me being at Notre Dame now, there are not a lot of kids going Division I for lacrosse these days from Kansas City. I just hope that I can inspire the next generation because there are so many talented athletes in the Kansas City area.”
Jackoboice and the Irish will face Maryland on May 23 at 1:30 p.m.