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February 28, 2011

Stony Brook waiting for Compitello

Inside Lacrosse was the first to report that No. 2 Virginia would meet No. 5 Stony Brook without senior midfielders Shamel and Rhamel Bratton. Turns out the Cavaliers weren’t the only team in that game at less than full strength.

Senior attackman Tom Compitello sat out the game due to an illness. Compitello recorded 37 goals and 35 assists last season, and judging by the zero-point showing by fellow senior attackman Jordan McBride, the Seawolves missed Compitello’s presence in an 11-10 overtime loss to Virginia on Saturday.

“Tom’s our quarterback on the attack end,” coach Rick Sowell said Monday morning. “We struggled down there at times just getting that thing around the horn. We made some mistakes that we can’t make against a team like Virginia.”

Sowell characterized Compitello as “day-to-day,” but Stony Brook got an unexpected boost from a pair of reserves. Senior Brett Drost, who started for Compitello scored three goals on three shots and added an assist. Junior Russ Bonnano, who spelled starting junior Kyle Belton, chipped in with one goal and two assists.

“He’s just a young man who goes about his business,” Sowell said of Drost. “Very quiet, but a hard worker. Understands the game, gets the game, understands his role, his strengths and weaknesses. We started him over a young man, Russ Bonnano, who gives us a little bit more in terms of being a dynamic player, but we didn’t want to throw him right off the bat. We eventually did, and it ended up being Drost, Bonnano and McBride for a good bit of the game. But Brett stepping and playing the way he did, it was just a testament to how hard he’s worked over the last couple of years to get into a position to help the team as he did on Saturday.”

Many media outlets (including this one) and fans had hyped Saturday’s game as a rematch of last May’s NCAA tournament quarterfinal which the Cavaliers won, 10-9. The drama certainly lived up to that even if both teams didn’t field the same players.

Many will view the setback as a lost opportunity for the Seawolves, who whiffed on a chance to take advantage of a Cavliers squad without the Brattons. But that’s not the approach Sowell intended to take.

“Ultimately, yes because we had a chance to win in overtime,” he said of a missed opportunity. “But we can’t dwell on it. Unlike a year ago when it ended our season, our season has just begun. It would’ve been nice, sure, but we’ve got to go on and play 11 more games. We had an opportunity to win the game, and we didn’t. So now we have to learn from it and try to get our first win this week.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 11:18 AM | | Comments (1)

Q&A with ESPN's Paul Carcaterra

ESPN analyst and former All-American Syracuse midfielder Paul Carcaterra will have a front-row view of Friday night’s tilt between No. 1 Syracuse and No. 2 Virginia as he provides commentary for ESPN. Carcaterra discussed two surprises of the weekend, a team that may have done itself a huge favor, and the wish for a delete button on Loyola’s 3-2 win against Towson.

Question: What was the most surprising result of the weekend?
Answer: I think it would have to be two. Duke [ranked No. 10 by The Sun] only putting up three goals against Penn, that was shocking to me. Duke is a team right now searching for an offensive identity. They don’t have the dodgers and playmakers that can really create and give some of their shooters an opportunity. Guys like [senior attackman] Zach Howell, who’s a fabulous shooter, they don’t have those other pieces to the offense to get him the ball. Putting up three goals against Penn, a team that towards the bottom of the Ivy [League] last year, in a loss, that was pretty shocking to me – regardless of the deficiencies of Duke, they have a ton of talent still in Durham. It’s just that they’re very young and obviously, it’s going to take longer to develop that talent than expected. And then the other piece was [No. 14] Georgetown getting blown out by [No. 3] Maryland. Maryland was a team that I picked in the preseason to go to the Final Four. After watching Georgetown against Jacksonville last week, I thought, ‘This offense is for real. They’re crafty, they’ve got good dodgers and finishers.’ I thought it was an offense ready to take Georgetown over the hump that they’ve been traveling on the last few years, but apparently not. Maryland just lit them up. I expected Maryland to be a great team, but I didn’t expect Georgetown to be in a position where they wouldn’t be able to compete in that game. They didn’t, so maybe it’s the same old Georgetown.

Q: What team registered the most impressive performance of the weekend?
A: I’d have to go back and probably say Maryland. They dominated all facets of that game and just forced their will on Georgetown. They dictated the tempo of the game, they defeated Georgetown in every facet – ground balls, physical play. They really came out, ands they made a statement yesterday. They didn’t beat a team that doesn’t have talent. Georgetown’s a team that has talent year in and year out. They just completely blew them out. So that was, to me, the most impressive team performance of the weekend.

Q: Was there an individual who stood out with his showing over the weekend?
A: I would say that the most impressive player performance over the weekend was either [Maryland senior] Grant Catalino’s five goals in that game. He’s a fabulous player. He’s big, strong and has the skills of an elite attackman. He’s not a guy that uses his size and strength to create offense all the time, but he’s just skilled. He’s a great shooter and a fabulous offensive player. His performance [Saturday] was just great as well as [Virginia junior attackman] Steele Stanwick’s. Five goals and three assists in a tough game against Stony Brook minus the Brattons, he really put his team on his shoulders. Eight points in a one-goal, overtime game including the game-winner, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better performance than his.

Q: Is there a team that got a performance over the weekend that might pay dividends in the long run?
A: I think it’s Penn. If you look at Penn’s 7-3 win against Duke, regardless of what Duke has back, they are the defending national champions, and for a team that was towards the bottom of the Ivy to take that game, I think it will certainly give them confidence. When they went on the field yesterday, they looked across at the other sideline and that was Duke on their chests and Duke had won the national championship. So regardless of how they were decimated by graduation and some injuries, it’s the defending national champion. And for a team to come out there after not having a great season a year ago, I think that will bode well from a confidence standpoint.

Q: How much will No. 5 Stony Brook’s one-goal overtime loss to No. 2 Virginia impact the Seawolves?
A: I think it was a little disheartening for Stony Brook. People talk about the Brattons not playing, but Virginia is still Virginia, and Stony Brook’s second-best player behind [senior midfielder] Kevin Crowley is [senior attackman] Tom Compitello, and he didn’t play. So I think if you put him in the mix, that changes that whole offense because he’s a dodger from behind and from the wings, and he makes defenses play up top with Crowley and behind with him, and he opens up so many other things for his teammates. If you look at [senior attackman] Jordan McBride’s totals [Saturday], he did nothing, and I think a lot of that has to do with Compitello not playing and not creating opportunities for McBride. That loss, to me, was just as big of a loss as the Brattons were for Virginia. I think in the back of their minds, Stony Brook probably thinks they can compete – regardless of who Virginia puts out on the field. And when they get Compitello back, they’ll be in the mix. So I look at them as a team that can play and challenge anyone.

Q: Anything stand out to you in No. 7 Hofstra’s 11-9 win against No. 8 Princeton?
A: I expected that. I thought Hofstra, just offensively, was a little bit too much for Princeton. I think Princeton played well, but Princeton is a little thin in the midfield. They’re missing [midfielder] Mike Chanenchuk, a freshman All American a year ago who isn’t playing this season, and that’s a big loss for them. They have some nice, young midfielders, but there’s really no depth there at the midfield. I thought that would be a problem for Hofstra. And Hofstra is just a stacked team with great seniors. If you look at their seniors, [attackman] Jamie Lincoln, [attackman] Jay Card, [midfielder] Steve Serling are guys who are amongst the nation’s elite. Competing against them was going to be a hard task for Princeton. I think Hofstra is a lot like Stony Brook. They’re going to be in the mix, and they’ll compete against anyone. Those are the types of teams that will really make a challenge to the Final Four this year.

Q: What did you think of No. 12 Loyola’s 3-2 win against Towson?
A: Obviously, a defensive battle, but you’d almost like to erase that game from a lacrosse fan’s standpoint. It was a complete snoozer. Credit the teams for grunting it out and playing solid defense and goaltending, but games like that are tough to watch, and I’m not sure it’s good for the game.

Q: What’s your preview of Saturday’s game between Princeton and No. 9 Johns Hopkins?
A: I did the Hopkins game [Saturday], and I was very, very impressed with their young players. Eight of their 10 starters are freshmen and sophomores, and their second midfield is made up of a sophomore and a freshman as well. They really only have two seniors playing legitimate minutes, and that’s Kyle Wharton and Chris Boland. I was just really impressed with the way they got after ground balls and their unselfish play. They move the ball around exceptionally well. This is a team that I think is going to challenge everyone this year and make some noise. But in the next couple of years, Hopkins is going to be back. They’re just loaded with young talent. Looking at that match-up, I would favor Hopkins. I think Hopkins is so young right now that they’re buying into a system and they’re going with it, and sometimes when you’re young, you don’t overthink things. You go out and you play, and sometimes that’s a positive spin. I think Hopkins beats Princeton.

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Maryland, Q&A, Towson

February 26, 2011

Postscript from Georgetown at Maryland

With six seniors and two juniors in the starting lineup, Maryland is a veteran-laden team well-equipped to handle adversity and avoid getting too high about wins.

Still, senior attackman Grant Catalino called the No. 3 Terps’ 20-8 throttling of No. 14 Georgetown at Byrd Stadium in College Park Saturday afternoon “awesome.”

“This starts our long road of playing top-25 teams,” Catalino said. “So coming off of a win is huge. It gives us a lot of confidence, but we’ll stay hungry. We’re not going to be overconfident. Going into playing Duke, we’re going to be hungry.”

Maryland has upcoming contests against ranked opponents in No. 10 Duke (on Saturday), No. 16 North Carolina (March 26), No. 2 Virginia (April 2) and No. 9 Johns Hopkins (April 16), and that doesn’t include the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in late April.

Maybe that’s why coach John Tillman, who was unaware of the Blue Devils’ stunning 7-3 loss to Penn after the Terps’ win, was somewhat more reserved than his team’s leading scorer.

“It’s hard to tell,” he said. “It’s so early in the season. I think it will definitely help our guys’ confidence, but I think our guys realize it’s a long season, and there are a lot of good teams out there. We have to go down next week, it’s our first road trip as a group, we can only take a certain number of guys. Duke is a very talented team. I don’t care what you say. They are the defending national champions. We have a lot of respect for them. I saw them play last week. Notre Dame’s terrific, but Duke’s not too far behind them. We can’t let up and think that we’re any better than we are. We’re just a work in progress. Today, for about two-and-a-half quarters, I thought we did a nice job, but we’ve really got to learn to play 60 minutes and learn to do that consistently in practice.”

Other notes:

*Maryland’s seven-goal third quarter was a product of the team maximizing its opportunities in unsettled situations. Three occurred immediately after faceoffs, and a few more resulted from quick transitions. “That’s what we talk about all the time,” Tillman said. “When we have those four-on-threes or five-on-fours or we have room-and-time shots or doorstep shots, if we don’t can those, it’s going to be tough because it’s going back the other way and that team can score some goals. So we know that game is going to be crazy and up and down, and we have to be opportunistic and efficient.”

*Curtis Holmes won just 1-of-4 faceoffs in the first quarter, but the sophomore midfielder rebounded nicely, going 19-of-27 for the remaining three periods. The Hoyas used four different players against Holmes, and none finished at .500 or better. Holmes took note of Georgetown’s rotation. “It’s kind of all strategy,” he said. “But it kind of makes you feel good to know that they’re rotating guys in because you’re being successful.” Catalino praised Holmes, saying, “I think he’s the silent killer coming into this season. No one really knew much about him. They knew he was there because the team only has a few faceoff guys. But he’s been playing really well.”

*Catalino and senior attackman Ryan Young combined for seven goals and four assists when the outcome was still in contention, but the Terps got some contributions from the midfield. That unit chipped in with eight goals and four assists in the first three quarters, and the team will continue to need that production. “We like those guys, and we kind of pick on them a little bit because they don’t get the accolades that the other guys get,” Tillman said. “And we do that with a lot of admiration for them. They’re a really hard-working group. They’re still a work in progress, but they’re guys that we really believe in. I think getting [senior] Scotty LaRue back today was a big shot in the arm. He had been banged up and he came back. He played a lot of wings and D-middie, and he just gave us a senior back there, which really helped because after him and with [senior] Danny Burns being a little banged up, we really were young at the short-stick positions. So getting Scotty back gave us a veteran wing.”

*Georgetown fell to 1-1, and the schedule doesn’t appear to get any easier. The Hoyas must face No. 1 Syracuse (March 12), No. 10 Duke (March 26), No. 4 Notre Dame (April 10), No. 12 Loyola (April 16) and No. 19 Villanova. “We’ve got to learn from it, for sure,” coach Dave Urick said of the setback. “But we can’t sit around and feel too sorry for ourselves. Our schedule is such that we’re going to be looking at a lot of teams of this caliber, and we need to deal with it. We need to be able to get better.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Maryland, Postscript

Georgetown at Maryland: Halftime thoughts

Maryland owns a 6-4 lead over Georgetown here at Byrd Stadium in College Park, and it could have been a lot worse – for the Terps.

No. 3 Maryland looked lethargic in the first half and the vaunted starting attack of seniors Grant Catalino, Ryan Young and Travis Reed were pretty much locked up by the Hoyas’ senior trio of Barney Ehrmann, Dan Hostetler and Bobby Boyle.

No. 14 Georgetown won 3-of-4 faceoffs in the first quarter and five of the first eight, but the Hoyas were stymied by redshirt freshman goalie Niko Amato, who made four saves in the first 4 minutes, 3 seconds.

Senior midfielder Max Seligmann’s second goal of the contest gave Georgetown a 3-1 lead with 9:49 remaining in the second quarter, but the Terps responded with a 5-1 run, which included three goals in a 1:54 span.

Other notes:

*As mentioned above, Maryland’s prolific attack was silenced by the Hoyas defense until Young fed Catalino for a goal with 20 seconds left in the second quarter. That’s a start, but Catalino, Young and Reed are going to have to force the action if the Terps are to defeat Georgetown in College Park for the first time since 2005.

*Maryland has committed three penalties to the Hoyas’ zero. Georgetown converted one of those extra-man chances into a goal, so the Terps are going to have to do a better job of avoiding being so generous.

*Amato, who has six saves in the first half, has made several fantastic stops, especially from point-blank range. But the Hoyas have scored three times from the right alley, and Amato is going to have to prove that he can turn away those opportunities so that Georgetown and future opponents don’t attack him from that spot.

Posted by Edward Lee at 4:11 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Halftime thoughts, Maryland

Georgetown at Maryland: Three things to watch

The respective basketball teams may not play against each other, but the lacrosse teams have made this local rivalry an annual tradition. The Terps own an 8-2 advantage in this series, but they haven’t beaten the Hoyas in College Park since 2005. Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome in the contest.

1) Holmes vs. Tabb. Sophomore Curtis Holmes won 17-of-21 faceoffs in his debut as Maryland’s primary specialist, but he gets a stiffer test in senior Brian Tabb, who went 18-of-28 in Georgetown’s season-opening 15-12 win against Jacksonville on Sunday. Although coach Dave Urick said nine of those wins occurred because the Dolphins player moved early, Terps coach John Tillman said Holmes will have his hands full. “It’ll be interesting,” Tillman said. “This is probably his biggest challenge to date, and I know he’s excited about it. He’s a competitive guy, but Tabb has logged a lot of miles, and he did a terrific job against us last year [when he went 15-of-28 in a 13-12 win against Tillman’s former Harvard squad]. So we’re going to have to see how we do here and make sure that the 10-man group does a great job.”

2) Hoyas offense vs. Amato. Three Georgetown players recorded a hat trick each against Jacksonville, but that kind of production could be difficult to manufacture against a Maryland defense that boasts three returning starters on close defense. Goalkeeper Niko Amato, who is expected to start, is just a redshirt freshman, but Urick said the team must avoid settling for poor shots that will only serve to boost Amato. “If you’re taking a pretty low-quality shot that he has little or no trouble saving, that’s only going to help him confidence-wise,” Urick said. “That’s even more of a reason to take some quality shots rather than some stuff that he’s not going to have a lot of trouble with. And he’s got a pretty darn good defense in front of him, so that makes a big difference, too. I’ve seen this kid play in high school, and he’s legit. He’s going to be a very good goalie for a long time there.”

3) Transition vs. transition. Like the Terps, the Hoyas boast several athletic players on defense, including fifth-year senior defenseman Barney Ehrmann and junior defenseman Dan Hostetler. Those guys are opportunistic when it comes to moving the ball from defense to offense, and Tillman said Maryland must maintain possession and scoop up ground balls. “They scored 15 goals [against Jacksonville] and a lot of it was [based] on their ability to get out and get after it,” Tillman said. “So we’ve got to do a good job of making sure we make them play a settled offense and not give them easy opportunities. We’ve got to make sure that the goals they get will be settled and earned. If we let them get behind us, that could certainly hurt us.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland, Three things to watch

Loyola at Towson: Three things to watch

These local rivals meet on Saturday, extending the most-played series on both sides. The Tigers own a slight lead with a 27-25 record, but the Greyhounds have won the last three contests. Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome in the contest.


1) Figuring out Loyola’s Hagelin. One of Towson coach Tony Seaman’s more pressing concerns is finding consistent production from a talented yet unproven offense. That task could be even more difficult against Jake Hagelin. In three starts against the Tigers, the senior goalie has surrendered just 22 goals and registered 38 saves over that same span. “We’ve got to put the ball past Hagelin,” Seaman said. “He’s terrific. He’s always presented problems for us. We’ve always had low-scoring games with him since he’s been the starting goalie. He’s somebody we’ve had trouble putting the ball by.”

2) Figuring out Towson’s zone defense. Of the 10 goals Towson allowed to Johns Hopkins in a four-goal loss last Saturday, Seaman said only four were scored against the team’s zone defense in settled situations. Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey said his offense must be patient and work for high-percentage opportunities against a defense that dares shooters to take their chances from the perimeter. “Offensively, we need to be disciplined,” Toomey said. “We need to kind of build on what we finished last week, which was really getting some quality looks at the cage. I think Towson is very athletic team, and if we’re able to get those looks from 10 [yards] and in, you’ll have some great opportunities. But if they play zone and we’re settling for 15- or 20-yard shots, then you let a goalie get into the game.”

3) Figuring out Loyola’s screens. Loyola’s second-half comeback win against Navy last Saturday could be partially attributed to the offense’s strategy of setting screens and rubbing defenders off for high-quality attempts. Seaman said the Tigers defense is going to have to be vigilant about those screens and fight through picks if they have to. “I think they’re really terrific at moving off the ball, and I think they pick a lot more for the ball than any team that we’ve played or scrimmaged so far,” he said. “So they’re different from Hopkins in those ways. You’ve got to prepare differently for them. They move the ball very well, they’re always looking for each other, and they’re not a team that tries to dodge you or score one-on-one against you. They run you off of picks and they run you off of situations, and they’re always picking for the backside and people off the ball. I’ve always said that it’s much harder to play defense off the ball than it is on the ball. So they just create situations for you that are very different than what we’ve faced against Hopkins. So that’s why we have to do a whole lot of different preparations for.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Loyola, Three things to watch, Towson

February 25, 2011

Georgetown's Urick denies he's feeling heat

In 22 seasons as Georgetown’s head coach, Dave Urick has compiled a 209-95 record, guided the program to 11 trips to the NCAA tournament in the last 14 years, and has endured only one losing campaign.

But the No. 14 Hoyas haven’t qualified for the postseason since 2007, and there’s some murmuring that the school should review whether the program is headed in the right direction under Urick.

Urick, who said he doesn’t know how to text message, said he doesn’t pay any attention to message boards or Internet forums questioning his leadership.

“You deal with it,” Urick said. “I don’t worry too much about it. But I’ve been around long enough to know that it’s about what have you done for me lately? Georgetown puts a lot of support and emphasis on the program here, and we certainly aspire to be a tournament-caliber team and ultimately try to get to the games on the weekends at the end of the year. It’s a very competitive environment, and what we’re trying to do is get ourselves into a position to compete for a national championship. It’s a steep slope, and the schedule we play allows us to play our way in, but at the same time, you can play your way out. You need to understand that and deal with it. If at some point they decide that somebody else might be better prepared or better able to take this program and move forward, then you deal with that as well.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:00 PM | | Comments (1)

Maryland's Max Schmidt poses (slight) injury concern

When No. 3 Maryland opened the season last Saturday against Detroit Mercy, Max Schmidt was not in his customary starter’s position.

The senior defenseman missed some time in the preseason due to an unspecified injury, and the coaching staff elected to start senior Shane Hall to run with seniors Brett Schmidt and Ryder Bohlander on the first defense.

“Max had missed a little bit of time early in the season, and we felt like it was a great reward [for Hall],” coach John Tillman said. “Shane had never started a game before, and it was a terrific opportunity for him to look back and say, ‘I got a chance to start.’ And I thought that was great for him.”

Tillman was non-committal about whether Max Schmidt, who registered 39 ground balls and 21 caused turnovers last season, would come off the bench again this Saturday against No. 14 Georgetown.

“We have confidence in all those guys,” Tillman said. “So we’ll see how it goes. But we’re going to use them all. So how we start and how we finish are two different things. But as the game [against Detroit Mercy] went on, Max played more and more. So if we were worried about him being seriously injured, we wouldn’t have played him at all.”

Tillman praised two more players who made their debuts as starters.

Goalkeeper Niko Amato played more than 47 minutes, surrendering just three goals and making three saves to earn the victory. And although Tillman said his assessment of Amato is incomplete, he said the redshirt freshman fared well.

“I thought he did fine,” Tillman said. “He didn’t see a lot of action in terms of multiple shots to get into a rhythm, but I thought just him getting in there, he showed pretty good poise, and he managed the game pretty well, cleared the ball well.”

Sophomore Curtis Holmes won 17-of-21 faceoffs and showed flashes of the determination and toughness that his older brother Bryn seemed to have in droves as a faceoff specialist for the Terps in the last three years.

“We have a lot of confidence in Curtis,” Tillman said. “He’s not a big-name guy – not yet – and he hasn’t done it enough to merit being with some of those big-name guys. He’s still establishing himself.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland

Leftovers from Q&A with UMBC's Dave Brown

Friday’s edition of The Sun included a Q&A with UMBC sophomore midfielder Dave Brown. Due to space limitations, some questions and answers were omitted. Here is the rest.

Question: How would you describe your chemistry with fellow sophomore midfielders Scott Hopmann and Scott Jones?
Answer: It’s pretty close-knit. We hang out a lot on the weekends, and we have a lot of classes together. The chemistry, you can tell, is going to be there for a while. We always know where the other one is going to be and each of us plays and what each person is going to do. It’s really good knowing when someone else is dodging and you know what they’re going to do even before they start their dodge. That way, you can move into a position to score a goal.

Q: What is your favorite movie and why?
A: I really like Shawshank Redemption. I recently just watched it, and it’s really inspirational and motivating. Just to see what the main character goes through makes you feel like you can go through a lot worse.

Q: What is your go-to meal and what is a food you can’t stomach?
A: I really like peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches. They’re really quick and easy to make, and they’re quite delicious. I’m not a big seafood guy. I don’t really like fish too much. So if someone puts fish in front of me, I’d rather not eat it.

Q: What’s your worst habit?
A: My worst habit is that I probably think too much. When I was younger, I would watch lacrosse games on tape, rewind it, and play it again. I would watch for exactly what each player did, and thinking too much is bad when you’re playing because then you just don’t react. When you think too much, you’re a little tentative.

Q: Do you have a favorite team or player outside of lacrosse that you follow?
A: I follow the Eagles and the Phillies. I really like [running back] LeSean McCoy from the Philadelphia Eagles. Just the way he carries himself and the way he plays out on the field. He doesn’t really get a lot of attention because of [quarterback] Michael Vick and [wide receiver] DeSean Jackson. But he’s one of the key guys on the team, and if we were to lose him, it would be a big loss for the team.

Q: I would imagine that as an Eagles fan, you’re outnumbered at UMBC, right?
A: All the time. But one guy who’s no longer on the team, Nick Doub, roots for the Eagles and the Phillies. And also, [senior defenseman] Dave Stock is from Philadelphia. Whenever the games are on, we try to watch them together and get away from the Ravens fans.

Q: Do you have a celebrity crush?
A: A celebrity crush? Wow, I have a lot of them. Right now, I have a big crush on Kim Kardashian. She’s all that and a bag.

Q: So did you approve of her commercial for Skechers during the Super Bowl?
A: Oh yeah, that was a great commercial. They did a good job of advertising that.

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Q&A, UMBC

Loyola's faceoff success traces back to volunteer

Loyola’s Steve Vaikness likes to joke that he’s got “a little green and gray” in him. As a volunteer assistant coach, he’s certainly not in it for the money.

“Yeah, it doesn’t pay well,” Vaikness quipped.

Don’t let the “volunteer” part of the job title fool you. The Greyhounds who take part on faceoffs point to Vaikness as the primary reason why they have finished in the top six nationally in faceoff percentage.

Vaikness, a former faceoff specialist who won 116-of-191 (.607) of his re-starts as a senior at Loyola, has worked wonders at his alma mater since being hired by coach and former teammate Charley Toomey in the spring of 2006.

Under Vaikness’ guidance, the team has finished fourth in the country in faceoff percentage in 2007, fifth in 2009 and sixth in 2010.

Sophomore midfielder Josh Hawkins said the unit’s success can be traced back to Vaikness.

“He’s a great coach,” Hawkins said. “He played here, so he’s been with the program for a while, and we get a lot done in practice. We face off live and get in the faceoff time that we need during practice – whether that’s full-team drills or just on the sidelines.”

Senior John Schiavone was even blunter in his assessment of Vaikness’ impact. Schiavone, who finished fourth (58.7) and fifth (59.9) in faceoff percentage in 2009 and 2010, respectively, credits Vaikness with altering his grip, his stance and even his diet which resulted in a 20-pound loss since his freshman year.

“I don’t think I could have made the transfer with everything that I’ve changed about myself without him,” Schiavone said. “He’s changed everything from my technique to different workouts. I didn’t have to be a dominant faceoff person when I had [former long-stick midfielder] P.T. [Ricci] on my team as a sophomore. I could just toss the ball back, and I knew he was going to get it. … He’s the first one to get on me if I’m not doing something right or if I’m not working hard enough. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t know if my move or my technique is going to excel any more, but he’s been more of a drill sergeant for me in keeping me right on point with how my play is going.”

Vaikness, who commutes daily from his home in Towson to his job with a residential developer in Washington, D.C, to practice at the Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore, said his passion for the game and the players has banished any thought of leaving Loyola.

“I’ve been playing lacrosse since I was a kid, and when it’s lacrosse season, if I’m not playing, I’m coaching,” Vaikness said. “I was teammates with Coach Toomey, and I’ve got a little green and gray in me. I like to see the guys do well, and I like to experience the success that we’ve had. I just love the game and love to be around it.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Loyola

February 24, 2011

Another re-match from last year's NCAA tournament looms

Six days after No. 4 Notre Dame scored a 12-7 victory over No. 10 Duke in a re-match of last year’s championship final, another pair of tournament participants will meet again this Saturday.
No. 2 Virginia visits No. 5 Stony Brook, which will revive memories of the Cavaliers’ too-close-for-comfort 10-9 win in last year’s NCAA quarterfinal.

The irony of opening the season against the opponent that ended the Seawolves’ season was not lost on coach Rick Sowell.

“The way the season ended and then to have them in the first game, I guess you couldn’t make this up,” he said with a chuckle. “Certainly, there’s a storyline there, and it’s exciting from that perspective. But for us right now, we’re worried about doing all of the little things. … That’s our focus, and playing a team like Virginia puts a premium on that. That’s the one thing I do like about it. It does put a premium on the preseason and the focus and just gives our guys a chance to pay a little bit more attention and a little bit more focus. I think our guys are fired up and looking forward to it. Hopefully, that’s going to make us get to where we need to be.”

On the flipside, Virginia coach Dom Starsia wasn’t quite as eager about meeting Stony Brook on its home turf even though the Cavaliers have posted wins against No. 17 Drexel and Mount St. Mary’s thus far.

“The thought of going back to Stony Brook is going to produce some sleepless nights,” Starsia said. “That was a wild game last year in an unbelievable atmosphere. I was really pleased for Stony Brook that it was such a dramatic moment for their program. At the same time, it’s easier for me to say that when we won the game. People were saying to me afterwards, ‘What happened, Dom? You only won by one goal.’ I said, ‘Are you freaking kidding me? That was a great win for us.’ With everything we had been through, to beat Stony Brook in that atmosphere, that was a great day for lacrosse.”

Sowell anticipates a large number of students and fans filling Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium, and the vibe could be tinted with a hint of payback.

But that’s not the Seawolves’ focus, according to Sowell.

“It’s not so much about owing them one as it is an opportunity to play a really good team and coming off of last year, even though we return a lot of players, it’s a different team,” he said. “So that’s the way I’m looking at it. Losing those defenders is going to make a difference. … We’re just trying to gear up. There are a lot of good teams, and we’re just trying to be one of them.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)

Georgetown's Emala biding his time

When Davey Emala agreed to play for Georgetown while he was still playing for Gilman, the assumption was that the Baltimore native would soon be a starter for the Hoyas.

One game into his sophomore year, the attackman continues to come off the bench, but Emala said he is being patient.

“I came into a really talented program,” he said. “Last year, Craig Dowd was here and we still have [fifth-year senior] Rickey Mirabito. The way I’ve approached it is, I’ve tried to learn a lot from them and get acclimated to transitioning to the college game. I’m trying to take what I’ve learned and apply that as best as I can.”

Emala – who registered six goals and one assist as a freshman, including three in a 13-12 overtime win against Navy on April 2 – scored three goals in the team’s 15-12 win against Jacksonville last Saturday.

While he conceded that he’d prefer to start, Emala said he’s accustomed to running from the sideline and delving into the flow of the game as it unfolds.

“It’s definitely something that you have to adjust to,” he said. “It’s when you start to get into the game right away, but there’s nothing you can really do about it. You just have to come in and get a feel for the game as best as you can and just go with it.”

He is currently playing behind Mirabito and sophomore Travis Comeau and Zac Guy. But Georgetown coach Dave Urick said Emala’s development is ongoing.

“For us, we play four attackmen, and three of them start. But minutes-wise, they all play about the same,” Urick said. “In this last game, even more so because Zac Guy didn’t play at all in the second half. Davey Emala, he will play the same amount of minutes, if not more, than maybe some of the other guys because he’s on the extra-man offense. For us, it’s more important not who starts the game, but who finishes the game. Davey was one of our leading scorers this weekend, and it doesn’t surprise me that he did that. … He will play and he will start throughout the season from time to time. There’s no doubt about that. He’s one of the many guys that played significant minutes for us as a freshman, and then now as a sophomore, you’d like to think that’s going to bode well for us in that regard.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)

Navy eager to bury loss to Loyola

There’s probably a strong chance that No. 16 North Carolina will be fired up to rebound from a surprising loss to Ohio State last Saturday.

Join the club, Richie Meade said.

Navy is just as eager to bury the memory of last Saturday’s 9-8 loss to No. 12 Loyola, and the Midshipmen get a crack at that when they meet the host Tar Heels Friday night.

“It would have been a huge win for us – coming off of last season and with the youth of this team,” Meade said ruefully. “We’ve played well most of the time, so it’s disappointing. But we’re focused on playing better. And we’re going to have to be if we want to beat North Carolina. It’s just one of those things where it’s early in the year, and you’re not going to get it back. But I’m not going to say that everything went wrong on Saturday because we lost. We did a lot of really good things, and we’ve got to build on that. So I think we’re disappointed, and we’re looking forward to playing North Carolina, and I think they feel the same way.”

Meade said he is fully expecting an emphatic effort from North Carolina, which allowed a 5-1 lead to slip from its grasp en route to the five-goal setback to the Buckeyes.

“I think probably from their perspective, they feel like they had the opportunity to blow the game open and they didn’t,” he said. “Ohio State just kind of chipped away at it and wound up pulling ahead late in the game. North Carolina’s really good. There’s a reason why they were ranked very high early in the year, and they’ve got a lot of talented players. … I think they’re going to be motivated and ready to play.”

Meade said a key against the Tar Heels is protecting the ball. Two years ago, Navy successfully cleared the ball 15-of-19 times, but lost the ground ball battle by 13. Last season, the Midshipmen committed 24 turnovers to North Carolina’s 13.

“When you have the ball, you’ve got to take care of it a little better,” Meade said. “We’re going to have to clear the ball against North Carolina. They’re going to bump up and do kind of a 10-man full-field zone ride. … Whenever you talk about possession, you talk about ground balls, faceoffs and clearing. Those are the areas we’ve got to focus on.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Loyola, Navy

February 23, 2011

Salisbury's Bradman earns award

In what should be the first of many such honors, Salisbury’s Sam Bradman was named the Capital Athletic Conference’s Offensive Player of the Week Tuesday.

The reigning National Midfielder of the Year scored a career-high eight goals in the No. 2 Sea Gulls’ 13-5 rout of No. 109 Lynchburg. The junior leads the team in both goals (12) and points (15).

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Salisbury

Ohio State looking to avoid letdown

Less than 24 hours after Ohio State registered one of the program’s biggest victories with a 13-8 decision against then-No. 5 North Carolina, the players and coaches were back at practice reviewing the game film and lifting weights.

The message was clear: congratulations on the win, but now it’s time to focus on No. 11 Masschusetts.

“You’re only as good as your next performance out there, and I think the focus for these guys is on UMass,” coach Nick Myers said Tuesday. “We have a very firm schedule. We’ve got UMass, and then we roll right into Penn State, Lehigh, Albany, Virginia and Notre Dame before we get to our conference play. You can’t teach confidence. It’s a hard thing to really instill. We really focused on just playing Buckeye lacrosse. I think this gives them a little confidence, but now you’re going on the road to one of the toughest places to play in college lacrosse in my opinion, to Garber Field and against a team that’s very good. I think that’s really going to be a test for us both mentally and physically, to go in there and try to get a win against a team like UMass.”

The No. 15 Buckeyes, who improved to 3-0, earned a variety of stirring performances. Sophomore attackman Logan Schuss posted three goals and two assists, senior midfielder Jarred Bowman recorded two goals and one assist, and junior defenseman Keenan Ochwalt collected five ground balls and two caused turnovers.

Another factor was the play of freshman goalkeeper Greg Dutton, who made eight saves. The Timonium native and Calvert Hall graduate recovered after giving up two quick goals and solidified the team’s defensive effort as the Tar Heels pressed the attack in an attempt to send the game into overtime.

“We’ve had a great goalie competition with [sophomore] Ryan Brant and [senior] Ryan Keneally. But for Greg, when we went down to Duke for a scrimmage, I think that’s when he got some real confidence,” Myers said. “Duke’s certainly a very good team, and Greg played the majority of that scrimmage, and we thought he played very well. I think some of his teammates got some energy based off of the way he played in that scrimmage. He played very well in our opener against Detroit, holding them to only three goals. So I think his confidence is really starting to build over the last couple of weeks. And I think not only to go into a game like that and play very soundly, but I also think he did a very nice job in the clearing game.”

There’s still a sense of excitement surrounding the team regarding the win against North Carolina, but Myers said the players have done a good job of turning their attention to the Minutemen, who are also undefeated at 2-0.

“We practiced [Tuesday] morning, and it’s all about UMass,” he said. “There’s no gray area there. We’ve got to move past that. It’s over, and we’ve got our biggest test of the season so far, going away from home into Garber Field against a very talented UMass team.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)

North Carolina defies reports of early demise

Joe Breschi has heard and read the reports suggesting that North Carolina, once a preseason favorite advance to the Final Four, will be lucky to even qualify for the NCAA tournament. And he’s not impressed nor convinced.

“We tell our guys not to listen to the media or read the message boards,” the Tar Heels coach said Tuesday. “I think every coach does the same thing. I think for us, it’s about the guys in the room, it’s about the guys who are going out there to practice every day and are working hard and are trying to get better every day. That’s our goal, to continue to work hard, and now we’re an underdog every week, which is not a bad role to be in.”

Once considered unfathomable, the “underdog” label just might stick as No. 16 North Carolina has been decimated by injuries, especially in the midfield.

The careers of Sean Burke and Tyler Morton were cut short permanently by concussions. Sophomore Cam Wood suffered a knee injury in his first scrimmage that will sideline him for the entire season, and sophomore Greg McBride is still not 100 percent after undergoing back surgery in the offseason. And senior long-stick midfielder Milton Lyles will sit out 2011 after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in a scrimmage.

“You can’t make up for those losses, but we all talk about the next guy stepping up, and all those freshmen are getting opportunities now,” Breschi said. “And I think in the long run, you hear about teams being young, we’re young at the midfield and we just became younger based on those injuries. So we just talk about the next guy stepping up and encouraging him to make plays.”

The Tar Heels are 1-1 after falling to then-unranked Ohio State, 13-8, last Saturday, and the schedule doesn’t get easier with upcoming contests against No. 8 Princeton, No. 10 Duke, No. 3 Maryland, No. 9 Johns Hopkins, No. 2 Virginia and No. 4 Notre Dame (in chronological order).

Perhaps that’s why Breschi doesn’t mind embracing the underdog label.

“From our standpoint, I think we’re just trying to motivate our guys and get them excited to play,” he said. “… I think from our standpoint, it’s about getting better every day. The Ivy League hasn’t started their season yet. So I think it’s so early that we’ve got to continue to figure out our identity.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (2)

Postscript from Johns Hopkins at Delaware

The final box score from Tuesday night’s game will show that once again, the starting attack of seniors Chris Boland and Kyle Wharton and sophomore Zach Palmer led the way in both goals and points in No. 9 Johns’ Hopkins’ 18-5 demolition of No. 20 Delaware.

But their performance should not overshadow the encouraging play of the team’s youthful midfielders.

That’s because while the Blue Hens defense sought to contain the attack, sophomore John Ranagan and freshmen Rob Guida and Eric Ruhl sparked the offense in the first two quarters.
Guida scored the first two goals of the game, Ranagan assisted on the next two, and Ruhl capped the scoring in the first half.

Coach Dave Pietramala said he wasn’t surprised by Delaware’s defensive game plan after the attack unit combined for seven goals and four assists in the Blue Jays’ 10-6 victory over Towson in the season opener last Saturday.

“I would imagine after the last game when you watched how we played, John and [sophomore] John [Greeley] and Robert were not great, and our attack carried the majority of the workload and had the majority of the points,” Pietramala said. “In this game, if I’m a coach, I’m looking at Hopkins and saying, ‘OK, well, the attack had a lot of the points. We’ve got to be very aware of them.’ I was really pleased to see Robert Guida get off and get a couple early. I thought both Johns played well. I thought the first line got some production, and we got some production from the second line and Eric Ruhl. In the last game, I didn’t feel like we got enough out of our middies, and that was something that we talked about that day and in practice over the last two days. So it was a focal point.”

Ranagan said he understands that the offense will continue to be scrutinized until the midfield produces on a consistent basis. But he expressed a confidence that he said stems from his teammates.

“We have our teammates’ support, so it’s not too bad,” Ranagan said. “We have two great captains at attack, and we’re all playing together. John and I played half a season together last year, and this is all new for us. So it’s nice to have three guys who are going through it together.”

Other notes:

*For the first time this season, Blue Hens junior Dan Cooney had a sub-par day at the faceoff X. Cooney, who had entered Tuesday night’s contest with a .732 faceoff percentage (41-of-56), won just 10-of-21 faceoffs against Johns Hopkins. Senior Matt Dolente won 7-of-13 faceoffs, and Ranagan split six attempts, but Pietramala said the key was applying pressure on Cooney. “One of the things we did do was we increased the level of pressure that we put on him,” Pietramala said. “When he got the ball, we felt like we could pressure him. If we could make into a ground ball scrum just a little bit more, we felt like we had a chance to come up with the ball.”

*If there’s one area of concern, the Blue Jays did not capitalize on their extra-man opportunities, converting just 2-of-9 chances. But enticing Delaware – which had committed 19 penalties in three games – into fouling was nearly as palatable, Pietramala said. “When you look at a game when you have a lead and a team’s trying to make a comeback, every penalty is a dagger,” he said. “It takes from your momentum and it takes from your opportunities to come back. … I thought their penalties took from any rhythm they might have had in the offensive end.”

*With wins at Towson and now Delaware, Johns Hopkins has two victories away from Homewood Field – which doubles the team’s total of road wins. “That may be the best thing, that we got two wins on the road,” Pietramala said.

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Postscript

February 22, 2011

Johns Hopkins at Delaware: Halftime thoughts

A short turnaround doesn’t seem to have bothered No. 9 Johns Hopkins, which has cruised to a 6-1 advantage over No. 20 Delaware at halftime here at Delaware Stadium in Newark, Del.

The Blue Jays, who are coming off of a season-opening 10-6 win against Towson on Saturday, scored the game’s first three goals – all in the first quarter.

The offense has gotten production from both the attack and midfield. Senior attackman Kyle Wharton scored twice, sophomore Zach Palmer scored once, and fifth-year senior Chris Palmer assisted on one goal.

Freshman midfielder Rob Guida scored the first two goals of his career, sophomore John Ranagan registered two assists, and freshman Eric Ruhl scored once.

Johns Hopkins has been especially proficient at penetrating the Blue Hens’ sagging defense, finding running room and shooting lanes up top and down the left alley.

Other notes:

*Pierce Bassett is looking like a goalie who is proving coach Dave Pietramala right. The sophomore has turned away eight shots in the first half. It appears that the Delaware scouting report recommended aiming low on the 6-foot-3 Bassett, but he has stopped several of those offerings.

*The Blue Hens, who committed 19 penalties in its first three contests, are living up to its reputation, having been flagged three times for a total of three minutes. But the Blue Jays have not been able to convert on those extra-man chances, and that could haunt them if Delaware mounts a comeback in the second half.

* The Blue Hens has won 5-of-8 faceoffs thus far. That hasn’t hurt Johns Hopkins yet, but like extra-man opportunities, the Blue Jays have to be wary about trailing in that department.

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:59 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Halftime thoughts, Johns Hopkins

Johns Hopkins at Delaware: Three things to watch

Both teams enter Tuesday night’s meeting without a mark in the loss column. The No. 11 Blue Jays are 1-0 after beating Towson, 10-6, while the No. 19 Blue Hens are undefeated in three games thus far. Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome in the contest.

1) Youth gone wild. One of Johns Hopkins’ pressing questions was seemingly answered Saturday as the team’s freshmen and sophomores combined for five goals and seven assists. The rest of the points came from senior attackmen Kyle Wharton (three goals) and Chris Boland (two goals and one assist), but coach Dave Pietramala said the younger players have a standard for future contests. “That’s what we’re going to have to get to win because that’s who’s playing,” he said, noting that eight of the 10 starters were freshmen and sophomores and 13 of the 23 players who got into the game were freshmen and sophomores. “We started two seniors and six sophomores and two freshmen when you look at our attack, midfield and defense. That’s where the production’s going to have to come from. We got five goals from our two seniors in Boland and Wharton. So you hope you can expect that, but at this point, when you look at things statistically, where else are you going to look?”

2) False starts on faceoffs? After moving early 25 to 30 percent of the time on faceoffs last season, the Blue Jays emphasized discipline, which paid off as the faceoff unit moved early just three times in fall workouts and preseason scrimmages. But Johns Hopkins regressed against the Tigers, which contributed to the team winning just 11-of-20 faceoffs. That could be an issue against Delaware junior Dan Cooney, who has won 41-of-56 (.732) faceoffs thus far. “Going into this game, that guy allows them to control the tempo,” Pietramala said of Cooney. “The other thing he does is, he’s good enough that he likes to pinch and pop it out and then he creates transition. The last thing we want to afford this team is being able to run up and down. So that area is a huge factor.”

3) Drawing out the defense. The Blue Hens boast one of the larger defensive fronts in Division I with 6-foot-6, 235-pound Pat Dowling, 6-4, 236-pound Matt Stefurak, 6-2, 195-pound Connor Fitzgerald and 6-1, 212-pound Jared Bowe. But Pietramala hopes to use their strength against Delaware, which has committed 19 penalties this season. “When you’re going to be aggressive like that, you’re going to take some chances, beat up a little bit, but you’re also going to foul,” Pietramala said. “It’s like a blitzing defense. You’re going to take a chance and blitz, but you’re going to go offsides a few times. So you hope we can draw some fouls, but maybe more importantly, if we draw them, we’ve got to be able to capitalize on them. We were 1-of-4 the other day. So whether they foul you or not isn’t the big thing. It’s what you do when they foul you, and we’ve got to be a little more efficient there.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Three things to watch

Towson University needs a shooter

Towson University lost to Johns Hopkins Saturday, 10-6, and the major difference between the two teams this season, as well as in the past, is that the Tigers don't have a top notch attackman.

That one player other teams have to game plan against. Towson can matchup with Hopkins at just about every other position, but the Tigers don't have that top-notch shooter.

Iin fact, Towson hasn't had a great attackman since Kyle Campbell played in 2001 and registered 69 points. When some of these second- or third-tier Division I teams get these type of attackmen, their programs usually soar. But for the most part, these attackmen go to Hopkins, Syracuse or Virginia.


Posted by Mike Preston at 9:39 AM | | Comments (0)

Weekly awards for UMBC, Loyola, Navy

UMBC was one of three area schools to have players recognized by their respective leagues.

Retrievers sophomore Dave Brown was named by the America East as the Player of the Week after he recorded four goals and three assists in the team’s 16-10 victory over Presbyterian last Saturday. The midfielder posted just one assist in 11 contests last year.

UMBC redshirt freshman Matt Gregoire earned the conference’s Rookie of the Week honor for compiling two goals and one assist. The Crofton native and South River graduate scored the game-winning goal in the third quarter.

Sophomore attackman Mike Sawyer was selected by the Eastern College Athletic Conference’s Co-Offensive Player of the Week for scoring a game-high three goals in No. 12 Loyola’s 9-8 win against Navy last Saturday. Sawyer, the league’s Rookie of the Year in 2009 who also collected four ground balls, shared the award with Ohio State senior midfielder Jarred Bowman, who registered two goals and one assist in the Buckeyes’ 13-8 upset of then-No. 5 North Carolina.

Navy freshman attackman Sam Jones garnered the Patriot League’s Rookie of the Week honor for notching five goals and one assist in two games. The Severna Park native and graduate leads the team in goals (five) and ranks second in points (six).

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Loyola, Navy, UMBC

UMBC's midfield depth in flux

UMBC is still waiting to see whether Jamie Kimbles will return for the first time since fall workouts.

The senior midfielder, who registered 12 goals and nine assists last spring, was supposed to anchor a fledgling unit, but he has missed the entire preseason with a hamstring injury, according to coach Don Zimmerman.

Kimbles sat out the team’s season-opening 16-10 victory over Presbyterian on Saturday, and it’s unclear whether he will be able to suit up for the home opener against Rutgers.

“We’re hoping to get him back to practice this week,” Zimmerman said Monday. “Whether or not he’ll be ready to play on Saturday, that has yet to be determined. But he’s back, and he’s doing some stickwork drills. He has improved, and we’re just waiting for the right time to get him back and going at 100 percent.”

The Retrievers are not nearly as optimistic about freshman midfielder Zach Linkous, who sprained his ankle Saturday. Zimmerman characterized Linkous’ status against the Scarlet Knights as “doubtful.”

“I don’t think it’s broken,” Zimmerman said. “He definitely sprained it. I know he’s getting it X-rayed. So I have yet to hear exactly what it is, but right now, I’m thinking that it’s a sprain.”

Kimbles’ absence has had a somewhat unexpected benefit in that it has allowed sophomores Dave Brown, Scott Jones and Scott Hopmann to run the first midfield, and that trio combined for 11 goals and four assists against the Blue Hose.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Zimmerman said. “If a guy goes down, somebody’s got to step up. It’s like being a backup quarterback. You don’t get many snaps, but if the starter goes down, you’ve got to be ready, and I think that’s been the case with this year’s team. Losing a bunch of seniors who had playing roles opened the door for a lot of young guys to get out there and prove themselves, and this is just another example.”

Other notes:

*Junior goalkeeper Brian McCullough made six saves in his debut as the full-time starter. He made his fair share of mistakes, but Zimmerman was pleased with what he saw. “I think he held his own,” Zimmerman said. “If you look at the stats, his save percentage wasn’t that impressive, but there were some goals that we gave up that I don’t think anybody could have saved. And the whole team didn’t play well in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, he stepped up along with the rest of the team and made some critical saves to shut them down, and we were pleased with that. There’s plenty of room – for Brian or anybody on our team – for improvement. We’re going to continue to focus on getting better as a lacrosse team, but I think it was important that Brian went out there and was challenged. He held on and bounced back strong in the fourth quarter to get the win.”

*UMBC won 25-of-29 faceoffs with senior J.D. Harkey going 13-of-15 and sophomore Joseph Impallaria winning 12-of-14. Presbyterian is still experimenting with its faceoff unit, but Zimmerman said Harkey and Impallaria fared well. “I thought they both did very well,” Zimmerman said. “… But also, I think our wings did a great job. [Sophomore midfielder] Neill Lewnes had [six] ground balls and was scrappy on the wings – as well as [sophomore long-stick midfielder] Ethan Murphy. We’ve always said that faceoffs are a three-man game, and I was certainly pleased with the job that J.D. and Joe did, but also with the job that our wings did.”

*A youthful Retrievers squad that features just three seniors and eight juniors relished Saturday’s win and could gain a much-needed boost to its self-esteem. “That’s going to give us some confidence, but we’ve got to keep it in perspective,” Zimmerman cautioned. “It was our first game, and today’s Monday, and what we need to do is come out and use the weekend to our advantage and be a better team than we were on Saturday.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: UMBC

February 21, 2011

Ford, Stevenson awaiting word from NCAA

Stevenson, ranked No. 3 in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Coaches poll, overpowered No. 7 Haverford by seven goals Saturday, and the Mustangs did so without one of their top offensive players.

Senior attackman Richie Ford is waiting for the NCAA to approve his application for a fifth year of eligibility, and until then, the Baltimore native and Towson graduate is not permitted to play.

Coach Paul Cantabene said he wasn’t sure when a decision would be made.

“We’ve just got to go by their timeline, and we’re just waiting,” he said. “It’s just one of those things with the NCAA. So we’re just waiting to hear back from them.”

Stevenson started sophomore Tyler Reid in Ford’s place, and the transfer from Fairfield scored twice against the Fords.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for the younger guys to step up,” Cantabene said of Ford’s absence. “We had Tyler Reid step up with two goals this weekend and play well. [Sophomore] Danny Schanne is another guy we’re going to use in the meantime. But it’s an opportunity for them, and that’s why we recruit.”

Other notes:

*In a related matter, the Mustangs’ 11-4 victory was highlighted by the offense’s diversity. The unit got a game-high three goals from senior midfielder Kyle Moffitt, two goals and one assist from junior midfielder Justin Lea, one goal from senior midfielder Jake Stocksdale, and one assist from freshman midfielder Tony Rossi. The attack chipped in with one goal and two assists from senior Jimmy Dailey and two goals from senior Neal Barthelme. “I think we have the diversity not to rely on just one guy to score,” Cantabene said. “We have a lot of guys that can score, and that’s really going to make us tough to defend at times.”

*Junior goalkeeper Ian Bolland made 16 saves against Haverford in his debut as the full-time starter, and his ability to play with the ball out of the cage was a welcomed sight for Cantabene. “What he gave us was a real presence out of the goal,” he said. “He took a shot in the game, he got a few ground balls that we wouldn’t have gotten before, and I think he did a great job not giving up any rebounds. And I thought the defense did a really good job of supporting him. That was a great first go for him.”

*Stevenson still has upcoming contests against No. 1 Tufts, No. 2 Salisbury, No. 4 Cortland, No. 5 Roanoke and No. 10 Lynchburg, but Cantabene was hopeful that Saturday’s convincing win would set a standard for the remainder of the season. “We’ve played a lot of big games, and there are a lot of big games left to play,” he said. “So we really hope that sets the tone for the guys. We’ve got a bunch of motivated guys that want to get better. It was great to get a lot of our new guys into the game and get their legs under them.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 11:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Stevenson

Salisbury continues fast start

Hardly anyone batted an eye when Salisbury overwhelmed Greensboro, 25-2, in both teams’ season opener on Feb. 13. But the Seagulls, who are ranked No. 2 in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Coaches poll, put a similar beating on Lynchburg, outpointing a team ranked No. 10 in the same poll by eight goals.

Saturday’s 13-5 victory on the Hornets’ home field in Virginia proved to Salisbury that the team is prepared for this season.

“Our guys obviously got some confidence from going on the road and playing in a tough environment after a long trip, about six hours, and coming away with a solid win,” coach Jim Berkman said Sunday. “There’s also the realization that we made a couple of mistakes that we’ve got to correct if we’re going to continue to improve.”

After scoring 11 goals in the first quarter against Greensboro, the offense scored the game’s first four goals against Lynchburg and enjoyed an 8-4 advantage at halftime.

“We got on them right away,” Berkman said. “We scored four quick goals, and it was 4-0 before you could blink your eyes. I thought it was clutch to get a little bit of a cushion and have people relax.”

“I think our first six or seven offensive players are pretty electrifying and can shoot the ball,” Berkman later added. “If we get an opening, we can score some goals. We scored 11 goals in the first quarter against Greensboro last week in our first game. Even though we weren’t dealing with the same quality of opponent, 11 goals is a lot of goals in 15 minutes. We’ve got some guys down there that can finish on attack, and we’ve got a couple of middies that can create separation. We can get some quick goals, I think.”

Other notes:

*Eight of those 13 goals against the Hornets came from the stick of junior Sam Bradman. Berkman said the reigning Division III Midfielder of the Year appears two steps faster than he was last season when he recorded 58 goals and 28 assists. “He played 30 box games in Canada in Junior League Lacrosse,” Berkman said of Bradman. “There aren’t too many kids in the country – other than the Canadian kids – that go to Canada and play in 30 box games. His stick’s gotten better, he’s always shooting. He shot the ball unbelievably yesterday. His goals weren’t from in front of the net like the attackmen get. They were 10-, 11-, 12-yard shots that were stinging the corners – whether they were high or low.”

*Filling the void created by the graduation of Ryan Finch, who won 60.5 percent of his faceoffs last spring, was a worry, but sophomore Tyler Granelli won 10-of-15 faceoffs and freshman Chris Taylor won 4-of-6. Their performances were a welcomed sight for Berkman. “I think one of the big keys for us – and hopefully, this continues throughout the year because it was one of our big questions marks – was our faceoff play,” he said. “Our faceoff guys did a real nice job and handled the ball real well after they got the faceoffs. So that was really encouraging.”

*Aside from Bradman, junior Tony Mendes was the only other player to produce a multi-goal effort against the Hornets, posting two goals and one assist. Mendes, a former Maryland recruit, is still adjusting to moving from midfield to attack, but Berkman seems to think that he’s showing promise. “He’s getting there,” Berkman said. “He’s learning how to dodge from behind the goal a little bit. He had a couple of really nice moves where he broke the defenseman down behind and got to the goal. One time he did that, the goalie made a stick save. He’s still learning how to shoot from down there off a catch because he’s always been a middie who can shoot downhill on the run. Now it’s more of a catch-and-shoot or hitch-and-shoot type of shot. But we’re working on it every day. He’s a great kid, receptive to everything. He just wants to get better and help the team.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Salisbury

Q&A with ESPN's Mark Dixon

ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins midfielder Mark Dixon will provide commentary for WMAR and ESPN3 during Saturday’s game between No. 13 Loyola and No. 20 Towson. Dixon discussed No. 5 North Carolina’s 13-8 loss to Ohio State, the most impressive showing by a team and individual and the need to implement instant replay.

Question: What was the most surprising result of the weekend?
Answer: It’s a surprise and not a surprise in talking about North Carolina [ranked No. 5 by The Sun] getting run off the field by Ohio State. It’s not that they lost, but the fashion in which it happened. One point from the midfield? A lot of us had been pointing to the fact that North Carolina really didn’t have a whole lot of depth in the midfield. One goal came from the midfield and that was [junior] Jimmy Dunster early in the game.

Q: Could this be a precursor to what could be a rough season for the Tar Heels? Or is it merely an early-season hiccup?

A: I don’t know. I’m not really sure. Again, the depth at midfield is not really there for North Carolina. I’m looking at that attack, and they’re putting out four guys that can score, and I think there’s one who can really open things up for you in the midfield. That’s [freshman] Nicky Galasso. Whether [coach] Joe Breschi elects to move him to the midfield remains to be seen,  but I think [senior goalkeeper] Chris Madalon didn’t look sharp [Saturday], and the defense was giving up some shots that they were doing at the end of last season. Carolina beat Ohio State late in the season last year, 19-13, and that was almost the beginning of the end for North Carolina’s season in terms of that defense just collapsing. That was late in the season, and now, it’s early in the season. So do you hit the panic button? I don’t think so. Not in the third weekend of February. But I think there are some addressable situations that need to take place in Chapel Hill. And remember, this team was ranked as high as No. 3 in a lot of preseason polls, and that stock was losing a lot of value because of some injuries and some other players leaving the team or being dismissed from the team. But I think it’s too early to say, ‘OK, they’re going to have a horrible season.’ They still may make the NCAAs. Again, it’s very, very early, but people were expecting them to make it to Baltimore on Memorial Day weekend, which would be Carolina’s first visit to the national semifinals since 1993. Right now, it looks like that is not going to happen.

Q: Most impressive showing by a team or individual?

A: By an individual, Notre Dame’s Zach Brenneman [a senior midfielder]. Hands down. Three goals and two assists. To me, he’s the East Hampton express. He’s from East Hampton, New York, and he dodges like a freight train. When he gets a head of steam, no one can stop him. And then in the latter stages of the game, he’s the one who established the breathing room between Notre Dame and Duke. So individually, I was really, really impressed with Zach Brenneman. From a team perspective, probably [No. 1] Syracuse. They handled a pretty strong [No. 17] Denver team at home [the Carrier Dome in Syracuse]. They were up 4-0 early in the contest, and they played like a team that was ticked off and had lost on that very same field for only the second time in that program’s history in the NCAA tournament. They came out with a lot of fire in their belly and handled a pretty good Denver team.

Q: Is No. 2 Virginia’s 12-9 win against No. 16 Drexel a commentary on the winning team or the losing squad?

A: I think it’s a commentary on both. Drexel is a team that’s very, very talented. They’ve got a very strong defense and their [junior] goalie, Mark Manos, made 19 saves in that game. He was a third-team All American last year, and a lot of people paid attention to him and that defense in the preseason. I think that he showed up and played incredibly well. They’re going to struggle offensively. They lost [senior] Kevin Stockel who is their best midfielder to a knee injury in the fall. But [senior] Scott Perri’s a really nice attackman, and he had a big day for them. And Virginia, I think you have to tip your cap to the cavaliers. [Senior goalkeeper] Adam Ghitelman did not play. Coach’s decision not to play him. so [junior Rob] Fortunato, who’s the backup, came in and played real well. This is the time of year where upsets happen, and no one knows that more than Virginia because it was back in 2004 when they went out West and lost to Denver and Air Force. Four years ago, they lost to Drexel at Virginia. So that’s a program that knows early-season upsets, and they held it together. They’re going to score a lot of goals, and they scored 12 goals against a very good Drexel defense. Drexel’s a team that’s going to challenge for the Colonial Athletic Association championship. When you talk about UMass, Hofstra and Delaware, Drexel is in that conversation. I think there were two very good lacrosse teams in a hard-fought game, and I think it showed the strengths and weaknesses of both.

Q: What was your impression of No. 15 Georgetown’s 15-12 win against Jacksonville?

A: Georgetown is another team with a chip on its shoulder. They missed the NCAAs the last three times, and we’ve been talking about Georgetown being so strong defensively with [junior] Dan Hostetler and [senior] Barney Ehrmann. It looks like they’ve got their goalie back in [senior] Jack Davis. He’s been battling back injuries. But really, Jacksonville’s a team that can play. I think [senior midfielder] Bobby Stockton had four goals today. He would have been UMBC’s best player this year, but he transferred, and they play a very up-tempo style of lacrosse. It was in Jacksonville, so I think there was a little homefield advantage. It was warm, and that can loosen up the sticks a little bit, and there were over 8,000 fans there. But the fact of the matter is, Georgetown got the win, and they put a real nice offensive game together. [Sophomore] Travis Comeau had a hat trick, [sophomore] Davey Emala had a hat trick. That’s a nice attack right there. They made some saves when they had to make them. I think that’s a good start for Georgetown. I think we’ll get a better idea of where the Hoyas are next Saturday when they play [No. 3] Maryland.

Q: Is there anything else that struck you about this weekend?

A: I think one of the biggest ah-ha’s or I-told-you-so’s is from the Hopkins-Towson game. Hopkins was up 6-4 and one of the Towson attackman scored a goal that was disallowed. He was called for a crease violation, but the replays clearly showed that the player was not in violation of the crease. I’m certainly not suggesting that Towson would have won that game had the goal been allowed. But all of the sudden, instead of it being 6-5, Hopkins scored a couple more goals and I think they got that lead up to 9-4 before Towson was able to get their fifth goal. That just really points to the fact that we need instant replay in college lacrosse, especially for crease violations. I know they talk about time – did the player get the shot off in time? I really think that we could use instant replay for crease violations when there’s no push call, which there wasn’t [Saturday]. I think in those crease-violation situations where it’s so close, we really, really need instant replay. That was one of my takeaways from the weekend, and I just happened to be covering that game on television and saw it.

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Q&A, Towson

February 20, 2011

Postscript from Navy at Loyola

Through the first two quarters of Saturday’s contest against No. 13 Loyola, Navy had split 12 faceoffs – a remarkable showing against Greyhounds senior John Schiavone, who ranked sixth in Division I with a .599 percentage last spring.

But that all changed in the third quarter as Loyola won all five faceoffs, which led to four goals and the score being knotted at seven.

Schiavone was credited with winning 14-of-21 faceoffs, but Midshipmen coach Richie Meade said the Greyhounds’ wing players were the key.

“It wasn’t that we were struggling with the faceoffs at the X,” Meade said after Navy’s 9-8 loss. “Their wings just out-winged us. Their two guys on the wings did a very good job of just getting possession of the ball, and I thought that led to them just chipping away at the lead.”

Schiavone got the best of junior Logan West, who a week ago had outplayed Virginia Military Institute junior Stephen Robarge who had ranked fourth in the country last season. But Schiavone shared the credit with sophomore midfielder Josh Hawkins and sophomore long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff.

“He’s a good faceoff guy,” Schiavone said of West. “He was able to tie me up and let stuff turn into scrums with the wings. That’s not what I want. I’d rather win it to myself every time and be able to go. I’m lucky that I have Hawk and Ratliff on my team because no one’s going to outrun Hawk. He’s a fast guy, a ground ball machine. And same with Ratty. He’s a great when the ball’s on the ground, and they helped me lot. I think I got only two or three ground balls in the second half. They had the rest. Those were their wins.”

Other notes:

*Navy had a chance to send the game into overtime as senior midfielder Andy Warner – in a play reminiscent of his game-winning goal in the team’s 9-8 win against Johns Hopkins in overtime on April 24 – rubbed senior defenseman Steve Dircks off a screen behind the net and curled around the left post. But Warner’s high shot was sticked away by senior goalkeeper Jake Hagelin. “I thought I had a step,” Warner said. “I don’t even know what happened. I dove, and it didn’t go in. Doesn’t matter now.” Added Dircks: “I had guarded him previously last year, and I expected him to go to his right hand, which is his strength. He went to his left, and I wanted him to go left, I wanted him to go [to his] weak hand, and I just got picked. I’m not sure if there was an extra guy on the field or a miscommunication, but luckily, Hagelin stepped up big and stopped him right on the crease.”

*In a related matter, Loyola coach Charley Toomey said his players said that the Midshipmen had seven players on the offensive side of the field during Warner’s potential game-tying attempt. “We’re going to watch the tape,” Toomey said. “We think there were seven guys on the field. My guys were swearing up and down that there were seven on the field right there. So we’re going to get to the tape.” Meade was unavailable for comment.

*The Greyhounds got a huge lift from a familiar face. Michael Sawyer, who sat out last season due to unspecified off-field issues, led all scorers with three goals. The sophomore attackman, who was the Eastern College Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year in 2009, didn’t appear too rusty after a year-long layoff. “It’s a great feeling to come back and be a part of this family,” Sawyer said as he looked at senior attackman Matt Langan and Toomey flanking him. “I think our attack’s working well together, and I wouldn’t want to come back and be with anybody else but these guys.”

*Meade applauded his team’s defensive effort, but said that the unit tired in the second half as Loyola dominated time of possession. Senior defenseman Michael Hirsch agreed. “They were patient on offense,” he said of the Greyhounds. “They would come down after winning a faceoff, they’d pass it around for maybe 35 seconds, 40 seconds, get their guys on. They’d run a play, and if it doesn’t work, they’ll settle back up. At the end of the game, they played four minutes straight of offense. I remember looking up at that clock at six minutes, and when we almost got it cleared, it was about a minute-and-a-half. That’s a lot of defense. We were playing solid defense, and that’s what an offense is supposed to do, wear down the defense until there’s a little breakdown, and – boom – shoot it in.”

*Prior to Loyola sophomore attackman Patrick Fanshaw’s game-winner with 1:08 left in regulation, Navy junior goalie R.J. Wickham stopped a blast from senior attackman Eric Lusby and raced to midfield with the ball. But possession was returned to the Greyhounds after officials ruled that the Midshipmen had violated something. The problem is that Meade said he doesn’t know what the ruling was. “Our guy’s coming down the field, he’s over the midfield and almost in the box, and all of a sudden, the whistle blows,” he said, speculating that one of his players was cited for setting an illegal pick. “It’s the only thing it could’ve been. I don’t know. I’ll have to watch the film.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Loyola, Navy, Postscript

February 19, 2011

Loyola vs. UVa: How windy was it?

If you were outside watching a lacrosse game Saturday, you know what nearly 50 mph wind gusts feel like. They can blow you off balance and they're certainly strong enough to affect the trajectory of a lacrosse ball.

Did you know they could affect the goal too?

At the Loyola-Virginia women's game at Ridley Athletic Complex -- which is on a hill where nothing blocks the wind -- a gust blew one of the goal cages off kilter. Virginia goalie Kim Kolarik and an official had to move the cage back into place.

"I tried to move those cages the other day. They are heavy," Virginia coach Julie Myers said. "I was winded. Then to see it go. Wow."

Myers said the players were careful to shorten passes to keep the ball from sailing away on a tailwind, but as long as the cage stayed put, wind wasn't a huge factor in the game. Tthe variable winds affected both teams, of course, in Loyola's 15-8 victory.

"It was strong," Cavaliers' attacker Julie Gardner said. "There were times when there would be a huge gust. (Laughs) Hold the ball. Don't go."







Posted by Katherine Dunn at 6:06 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Women's lacrosse

Navy at Loyola: Halftime thoughts

A week after the freshmen propelled Navy to a six-goal victory over the Virginia Military Institute, the upperclassmen took control against No. 13 Loyola.

The Midshipmen lead the Greyhounds, 7-3, at halftime Saturday behind performances from several veterans.

Senior midfielder Andy Warner registered a goal and an assist, and senior Brian Striffler, juniors Nikk Davis and Taylor Reynolds and sophomore Cade Norris have each chipped in a goal.
Warner, Davis and Striffler scored three of Navy’s first four goals as the offense pushed the Midshipmen to a 4-0 lead just 65 seconds into the second quarter.

Loyola scored two goals in a 44-second span, but Navy notched three straight to pad the lead.

Other notes:

*The Midshipmen continue to reap strong outings from their plebes. Attackman Tucker Hull assisted on two goals and attackmen Sam Jones and Harrison Chaires each scored once.

*The teams split the 12 faceoffs in the first half, but that’s practically a win for the Navy against Greyhounds senior John Schiavone, who won almost 60 percent of his faceoffs last season. Schiavone won only 7-of-19 faceoffs in last year’s meeting with the Midshipmen.

*Senior attackman D.J. Comer leads Loyola with two goals, sophomore attackman Mike Sawyer has scored once, and senior attackman Matt Langan assisted on one of Comer’s goals. But fifth-year senior Chris Basler is the only midfielder to produce a point, and the lack of a consistent presence from the midfield was a preseason concern of coach Charley Toomey’s.

Posted by Edward Lee at 3:21 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Halftime thoughts, Loyola, Navy

Loyola attack nearly at full strength

Loyola is expected to meet Navy Saturday with its almost-full complement of attackmen.

Sophomores Patrick Fanshaw (wrist) and Michael Sawyer (concussion) and senior Eric Lusby (knee surgery) are slated to play for the No. 13 Greyhounds in their season opener.

All three players and sophomore Will Fredericks (ankle) were questionable. Only Fredericks is likely to be sidelined against the Midshipmen.

Posted by Edward Lee at 2:01 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Loyola, Navy

Navy at Loyola: Three things to watch

Loyola is 2-5 in the all-time series against Navy, but the Greyhounds own bragging rights after escaping Annapolis with an 8-7 win in overtime last season. Saturday’s contest is the season opener for No. 13 Loyola, but the Midshipmen are 1-0 after a 14-8 victory over the Virginia Military Institute. Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome in the contest.

1) Freezing out the freshmen. Navy’s season-opening win was highlighted by a group of freshmen that combined for eight goals and four assists. Their play caught the attention of Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey, who is emphasizing to his players that the plebes are only freshmen in label. “Everybody says they’re freshmen. I’ve been the head coach up at NAPS [the Naval Academy Preparatory School], and they’re not freshmen,” Toomey said, alluding to the first year the lacrosse players spend away from Annapolis. “They’re sophomores playing together. That’s the first thing that our guys need to understand, that they’re playing against sophomores, not freshmen. And they play a college schedule up there. So they’re not new kids to the program. They’ve played together in games. … When you’ve got a junior reading the scouting report and you see that ‘FR’ for ‘freshman,’ you sometimes to tend to lick your chops a little bit. Not only are you playing against a young man who has played with the other two guys before, but you’re also playing a young man who is a service academy kid. So he’s going to get knocked down, he’s going to get up, and he’s going to come back harder than ever. That’s what you saw last weekend.”

2) Singling out Schiavone. For all of the questions about Loyola’s re-configured attack, the offense should get plenty of opportunities courtesy of senior John Schiavone, who ranked sixth in Division I with a .599 faceoff percentage last spring. Junior Logan West – who won 11-of-18 faceoffs against Keydets junior Stephen Robarge, who ranked fourth last year – will likely get the brunt of the work against Schiavone, but Midshipmen coach Richie Meade said the players on the faceoff wings must assist West. “I think a lot of it is going to come down to the wing play,” Meade said. “Loyola’s got very good wing play. What we’ve got to hope is that he doesn’t get it to himself. He can’t win it to himself. … We’re going to have to make it a three-man game and hope we can come up with some of the groundballs. I also have a lot of faith in our guys. The way that we approach this is, the first thing you’ve got to do is beat the guy in front of you. So our approach is going to be to prepare for him and what he does, and we’re going to have to get everybody talked up. We have enough guys that we can put in on the wings on face-offs in terms of depth to be fresh.”

3) Working on Wickham. In the teams’ meeting last February, the Greyhounds placed 61.4 percent of their shots on net, but only eight of those 27 attempts escaped R.J. Wickham. Solving Navy’s junior goalie comes down to being patient and taking advantage of opportunities, Toomey said. “We’re seeing one of the better goalies in Division I, and so we can’t just chuck the ball at the net,” he said. “We’ve got to get a good look at it, make sure that we’re settling for shots that we can score because he’s so talented. He can not only save it, but Navy wants to get out and run, too. So we can’t give them any easy opportunities on the other end, too. So how many of those shots were great shots? I’m not so sure. … But we’ve really got to put some pressure on Wickham to see some 10-yard shots and in rather than allow him to make that 13-yard save that he can see.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Loyola, Navy, Three things to watch

Johns Hopkins at Towson: Three things to watch

There’s a lot at stake when No. 11 Johns Hopkins visits No. 20 Towson Saturday in the season opener for both teams. The Blue Jays are eager to distance themselves from the memory of last year’s 7-8 record, while the Tigers would like to snap a 15-game losing streak to their Baltimore rivals. Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome in the contest.

1) “Pierce"-ing Bassett. The Tigers’ worst loss of 2010 came at the hands of Johns Hopkins, which won last season’s meeting by seven goals. Some of that credit goes to then-freshman goalkeeper Pierce Bassett, who made nine of his game-high 12 saves in the first half, which allowed the Blue Jays to sprint to an 8-0 lead. “We need to manufacture goals,” Towson coach Tony Seaman said. “We’re going against one of the best defenses in the country with some wonderful athletes and a goalie who really gave us some problems last year. He put up a stone wall against us, and it was difficult for us to score goals. And we lost those guys that dominated our goal-scoring last year. So we need to find people who are going to be able to put the ball in the goal for us.”

2) Maximizing midfield. With senior attackman Kyle Wharton (unspecified injury) at risk of sitting out and fifth-year senior attackman Chris Boland just 10 months removed from major knee surgery, Johns Hopkins could use sizable contributions from the midfield. Sophomores John Ranagan and John Greeley are poised to start, but the team is still mulling over candidates to line up as the third midfielder. “We have a sense of where we’d like to go,” said coach Dave Pietramala, who declined to name a starter out of a group that includes senior Mark Goodrich, junior Marshall Burkhart, sophomore Lee Coppersmith and freshmen Eric Ruhl and Rob Guida. “But it’s one of those things where you want to make sure that the decisions that you’re making are correct and are going to impact the team positively. … Do you move a midfielder down [to attack to replace Wharton]? Do you change somebody? So all of that goes into play.”

3) Getting out of the gate. In two of the last three meetings between these rivals, the Blue Jays have jumped out to significant leads in the first quarter and first half. Seaman said he plans to emphasize with the Tigers the need to start fast and strong. “We can’t get punched in the mouth. … We can’t let that happen,” Seaman said. “Now the better question is, how do I stop that from happening? I have no idea. We’ve just got to play well, maybe control some face-offs, take your time, and if the possibility is there to score a goal, score the goal. That would be great. That’s something we’ll be harping on all this week. … We’ve got to prepare ourselves and be ready for the pressure. They’ve got some great athletes there and they’re going to be very good. We’ve got to be ready to take care of that team-wise, not individually.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Three things to watch, Towson

February 18, 2011

Notre Dame welcomes new identity

Membership has its privileges.

When Notre Dame lost to Duke in the NCAA tournament final last May, the Fighting Irish became just the ninth team since 1999 to advance to the title game. (Syracuse leads all schools with seven championship final appearances, and Johns Hopkins is second with four.)

With many lacrosse analysts picking Notre Dame to return to M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore for Memorial Day weekend in the spring, the Fighting Irish will be highlighted on opponents’ schedules.

Moving from being a hunter to being the hunted doesn’t bother senior midfielder David Earl.

“We don’t really get into that kind of stuff,” he said. “We know we have a really talented team, and we know we have a veteran defense that’s not going to give up too many goals, and we know we’re returning a lot of middies. Our confidence is always going to be at a certain level no matter what the media says. We know who we are as a team, and we don’t need to read articles to figure out who we are. We practiced together all fall and winter to find that out. It’s exciting having a good team and getting noticed, but you’ve always got to prove it each game.”

No. 4 Notre Dame opens the season Sunday against No. 10 Duke – a meeting that many are calling a re-match of last year’s title game. Earl said it’s fitting that the two teams meet again.

“It’s always fun to get another chance to play against them,” he said. “We were a little upset that we didn’t win the national championship. It’s always disappointing to go so far and come up short. Everyone’s really looking forward to it. Duke would probably be the first team we would’ve wanted to play. So it should be a good time.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (1)

Boys' Latin graduate adjusting to life at Duke

Christian Walsh rejoiced when he scored a goal in his collegiate debut. He just wished he could have seen it.

“It was thrilling, but it was one of those where I kind of just shot it and I barely saw it go in when it happened,” the Baltimore native and Boys’ Latin graduate said of his goal in No. 10 Duke’s 14-goal romp over Siena last Saturday. “I’d like to have another one this weekend [against No. 4 Notre Dame] and actually see it happen because I got hit right afterwards. But it was cool. I was giving some of the sophomore guys a hard time, saying I scored my first goal before they did. It was definitely good to break the ice and get that first one out of the way.”

Walsh, a freshman, is being counted on fill a void after the Blue Devils graduated a plethora of offensive players including Tewaaraton Award winner Ned Crotty, attackman Max Quinzani and midfielder Steve Schoeffel.

Walsh said Boys’ Latin prepared him for the academic rigors at Duke, but he conceded that he had to adjust to the year-long emphasis placed on lacrosse.

“It is a job. In high school, I played three sports, so I didn’t really think about lacrosse until February came,” said Walsh, who played soccer and basketball for the Lakers. “You started in February or so and then you played until the end of summer. But now in college, you work out the minute you step foot on campus, and you’re playing pretty much all year round. It’s a lot, but it’s been a pretty cool experience.”

Walsh, who is listed as an attackman on the Blue Devils’ roster, is actually playing on the second midfield line. Walsh said the learning curve has been a little steep.

“It has its ups and downs,” he said. “You take it day by day. [Freshman] Jordan Wolf [who is also making the switch from attack to midfield] and I are sometimes looking at each other and asking, ‘What are we doing?’ We both haven’t played the midfield since sixth or seventh grade. … So it’s been an adjustment, but it’s been fun, too. With a team like Duke, I’ll take playing time anywhere I can get it.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)

Leftovers from Q&A with Towson's Marc Ingerman

Friday’s edition of The Sun included a Q&A with Towson senior defenseman Marc Ingerman. Due to space limitations, some questions and answers were omitted. Here is the rest.

Question: Have you always played defense?
Answer: When I started at the youth level, I actually played midfield for, I think, about a season and the start of the next. And then my coach said, ‘Hey, you might want to try this stick out,’ and he tossed me a long stick. It‘s always been in my hands ever since.

Q: How do you go from dreaming about scoring the game-winning goal to trying to prevent one?
A: I think so, but there’s something to be said for those guys working hard on the defensive end. Whether you’re playing football or basketball, you can still make exciting plays on the defensive end, and that was always something that was kind of in my mind.

Q: How would you describe the mood of your teammates with the season opener against No. 11 Johns Hopkins a day away?
A: Everyone’s real excited. We have some things going on, and it’s a new year with a lot of new faces. The energy has been real high every day, and we’re just looking to build off that.

Q: What do you think about the annual game against Johns Hopkins being moved from its traditional spot in late April to the season opener?
A: I kind of like how Coach [Tony Seaman] moved it up. In years past, playing Hopkins at the end of the season was usually a pretty tough spot for us and them. They’ve been a little luckier coming out on top ever since I’ve been here, but I think having them at the beginning is a great opportunity to get off to a real good start and see where we’re at. There’s a little bit of added pressure with this game, but it’s not like the end of the season where they maybe need a win to get into the [NCAA] tournament and their backs are against the wall and they’re throwing all their marbles in. That’s a little bit of a tough situation for us.

Q: In a recent edition of Inside Lacrosse magazine, Massachusetts sophomore attackman Will Manny cited you by name as one of the toughest defenders he’s faced. How did that make you feel?
A: It’s pretty cool. It’s not something that I would have thought, and it’s nice to hear that others are giving me some respect around the league. But that could have very well been anyone from our team because we have five or six guys on defense that can do the job on any given day.

Q: So who’s the toughest offensive player you’ve had to shadow?
A: That’s a pretty tough question. Not to bring up bad memories, but I’d have to give it to Curtis Dickson from Delaware. Around the CAA [Colonial Athletic Conference], all of the attackmen are very tough. Each week, it’s a pretty tough battle in-conference and out-of-conference. But I’d have to give it to Dickson. He rung up five on me in the CAA championship game [last spring]. That’s hard to forget.

Q: Is there an athlete or entertainer you would pay to see?
A: I guess I’d like to see [Miami Heat forward] LeBron [James] because he gets a lot of hype. I’d like to see what he’s all about. I’ve also been watching a lot of indoor lacrosse, and those guys are pretty fierce. So I’d pay to see some indoor lacrosse games.

Q: What’s your favorite movie and why?
A: I’d say 300 is a great movie just because of all the action. That’s pretty action-packed.

Q: Do you have a go-to meal? And what’s your least favorite food?
A: I don’t really have a go-to meal. I can pretty much eat anything. Chicken parm is always a good one right before the game. Or some pasta. I’m really not a big broccoli eater although I know how important it is for an athlete’s body or anyone’s body in general. But I really don’t like broccoli.

Q: Can you give me one of two things from your Bucket List?
A: I’ve always told a couple buddies that I’d like to go to Alaska and just do some fishing and some camping. Stuff like that. Maybe a little hunting.

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Towson

February 17, 2011

Salisbury preview

This entry is the final in a series taking a look at each of the seven Division III programs in this state according to their order of finish from last season. The Sun’s lacrosse preview is slated to be published on Thursday, Feb. 17. Today is Stevenson’s turn.

Overview: The Sea Gulls enjoyed the kind of success they have become accustomed to, winning 21 of 23 games, knocking off Capital Athletic Conference rival Stevenson twice, and advancing to their seventh NCAA Tournament final in the last eight years. But a 9-6 setback to Tufts in the title game left the players and coaches with a bad taste in their mouths. The motivation to make amends is there, but foes like the aforementioned Mustangs, Roanoke and Gettysburg loom on the horizon.

Reason for optimism: A program that has long been built on offense is quite stacked on defense this spring. Seniors Collin Tokosch and Nick Mooney return as starting defensemen, and junior Chad Surman, a transfer from Onondaga Community College and freshman Danny Sherr are competing for No. 3 role. Junior long-stick midfielder Andrew Sellers, one of the team’s better athletes, is completely healed after sitting out six consecutive games last season because of a knee injury, and coach Jim Berkman is excited about juniors Dean Rossi and Parker Dickerson at short-stick defensive midfielder. “We’re pretty excited about what we’re doing on the defensive end right now,” Berkman said.

Reason for pessimism: The attack graduated a pair of 40-goal scorers in Mike Winter (53 goals and seven assists) and Jake DeLillo (43, 22). Junior Matt Cannone (51, 33) is back, but junior Erik Krum missed last season after undergoing knee surgery and junior Tony Mendes is still getting acclimated to making the move from the midfield. But a second group that could include juniors Kyle Quist, Lantz Carter and Evan Hammersly and freshman Zack Ward could provide some punch. “The attack is a work in progress because there are a couple new guys down there,” Berkman conceded. “But we’re playing together every day and the attack has a lot of promise.”

Keep an eye on: Salisbury ranked fifth in the country in scoring by averaging 15.5 goals per game, and one factor was the play of face-off specialist Ryan Finch, who won 60.5 percent of his face-offs. Junior Justin Radebaugh, a transfer from UMBC, sophomore Tyler Granelli and freshman Chris Turner are competing for reps, and Berkman isn’t ready to tip his hand on who has the edge. “I think it’s all going to play itself out,” he said. “From one day to the next, one guy is a little bit better than the other. Nobody’s defined himself as the better guy. I think you need a couple guys, but obviously, you need a No. 1 guy who can get some confidence and get into the flow of the game. That’s what we’re working through right now.”

What he said: The Sea Gulls boast a first-team All American in junior midfielder Sam Bradman and a pair of second-teamers in Tokosch and senior goalkeeper Johnny Rodriguez. That trio along with a few teammates form the foundation for Berkman’s confidence about his team. “I’ve always said that you have to have a somebody at each position that is probably a borderline first-team All American to be a championship contender,” Berkman said. “I think with Johnny Rodriguez returning, we have one of the best goalies, Tokosch and Mooney are two of the better defensemen in the country and obviously Sam Bradman is – if not the best – one of the best players at almost any level, and Cannone scores a lot of goals. When you have five guys of this quality that you’re building around, you always have a chance.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 11:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Salisbury

Stevenson preview

This entry is the sixth in a series taking a look at each of the seven Division III programs in this state according to their order of finish from last season. The Sun’s lacrosse preview is slated to be published on Thursday, Feb. 17. Today is Stevenson’s turn.

Overview: For the second year in a row, the Mustangs advanced to the NCAA Tournament semifinals, but they are still searching for their first trip to the national title game. Stevenson did prevent rival Salisbury from capturing that school’s 16th consecutive Capital Athletic Conference Tournament crown. Adding more to the trophy case is an objective, but are the Mustangs poised to take the next step in the program’s ongoing development? They’ll certainly try.

Reason for optimism: A defense that surrendered just 7.9 goals per contest last spring returns all three starting defensemen in seniors Evan Douglass, Ian Hart and Eric Schell. Add Virginia transfer Kyle Menendez and sophomore Kyle Fendlay and it’s easy to see why coach Paul Cantabene is quietly optimistic about the unit. “We’ve gone from being a team that was pretty much three-guys deep to being five-guys deep on close defense,” he said. “… So we think we’re pretty solid at the defensive end of the field. We feel like this is the best we’ve been defensively.”

Reason for pessimism: The aforementioned defense will be asked to hold the fort while junior goalkeeper Ian Bolland finds his footing in the net. The first-year starter filled in for Geoff Hebert when he was broke the pinkie finger on his left hand, but the bulk of the defensive responsibilities now falls on him. “[Sophomore] Pete Wesselman, who was also in contention for us, is going to back him up, but Ian’s done a great job of working really hard over the summer and this fall,” Cantabene said. “He’s really picked up his game, and he’s a lot different than Geoff was last year. Geoff was a kind of in-the-goal guy, but Ian’s very good out of the goal – picking up groundballs, clearing, carrying the ball for us a little bit. So he gives us a different dynamic that we’ve never had.”

Keep an eye on: A factor in the Mustangs boasting the third-most prolific offense in Division III was the play of face-off specialist Ray Witte, who won almost 63 percent of face-offs and scooped up 168 groundballs. The senior’s continued progression could make the offense dangerous again. He’s a difference-maker,” Cantabene said. “In the way he can handle the ball and shoot the ball, you’ve got to account for him. So he gives other teams some really tough match-ups. And he’s playing really well right now.”

What he said: The midfield returns seniors Sean Calabrese (23 goals and nine assists) and Kyle Moffitt (43, 9), and freshman Tony Rossi is the leading candidate to join them on the first line. But Cantabene is hoping for increased production from that unit to relieve some of the pressure on senior attackmen Richie Ford (57, 35) and Jimmy Dailey (44, 37). “Last year, we were smoke-and-mirrors a lot,” Cantabene said. “We had two pretty good ones and then we kind of filled it in. this year, we’re about eight midfielders deep. They’re big, athletic guys. We have four midfielders that are over 6-1, 6-2 and can run. And then you return Moffitt and Calabrese, and that really helps. It’s a pretty dynamic duo.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Stevenson

UMBC tabs McCullough as starting goalie

Junior goalkeeper Brian McCullough has been tabbed by UMBC coaches to start in the net when the Retrievers open the season Saturday against Presbyterian.

Sophomore Adam Cohen was thought to be the leading candidate to start after he recorded an 8.76 goals-against average and a .427 save percentage in nine contests (including eight starts) last year and was credited with all four of the team’s wins.

But McCullough, who posted a 16.80 GAA and a .300 save percentage in two starts last spring, performed well enough to impress the coaching staff in fall workouts and preseason scrimmages.

“We’re going to start Brian McCullough,” coach Don Zimmerman said Wednesday. “Both Brian and Adam have been competing well, and I’ve seen improvement in both goalkeepers. We just feel that at this point, Brian is just ahead of Adam.”

McCullough will be tasked with helping a defense that surrendered 11 goals or more in seven contests and allowed an average of 10.3 goals per game last season.

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: UMBC

Injuries taking a toll on Loyola's attackmen

An attack unit that has long been the foundation of Loyola’s offense could be at less-than-full-strength when the No. 13 Greyhounds open the season Saturday against Navy.

Sophomores Patrick Fanshaw (wrist), Michael Sawyer (concussion) and Will Fredericks (ankle) and senior Eric Lusby (knee surgery) are nursing injuries, leaving senior Matt Langan and freshman Justin Ward as the only healthy attackmen in the rotation.

“We look like a MASH unit on the sideline with our attackmen,” coach Charley Toomey quipped Wednesday. “I’m looking at the trainers’ report every day, just trying to get through practice and knowing full well that we’ve kind of been on the outside looking in with regards to our most talented guys. If we’re healthy, I really feel like we’ve got four attackmen that we’re really comfortable with in Langan, Lusby, Sawyer and Fanshaw. Justin Ward has been lights-out as a freshman, but those are our four guys in the rotation with Justin Ward ready to step in when needed.”

Of the attackmen, Sawyer and Fredericks are the most likely to miss the game against the Midshipmen. Sawyer still hasn’t been cleared by doctor after sustaining a concussion, and Fredericks is wearing a boot around his ankle.

Toomey is optimistic that Lusby will be able to suit up despite tearing his knee in the loss to Cornell in the first round of the NCAA tournament last May. Lusby, a Severna Park native and graduate, sat out fall workouts and preseason scrimmages, but he has become more active in practices this week.

“He wants to play with this senior class,” Toomey said. “He definitely worked very hard in the offseason to come back, and it was unfortunate because he was released for a couple weeks and then he started to fight some tendinitis in that knee. So we kind of had to shut him down a little bit and get that tendinitis out there. So he’s come back and been able to make it through some non-contract practice segments. [Tuesday] was his first full day with contact, and he made it through practice. The young man hadn’t made it through a full practice since the week leading up to playing Cornell last year. So now, it’s about getting him in and getting him up to speed with the offense since he’s transitioning from the midfield.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Loyola, Navy

Johns Hopkins' Wharton might sit out opener vs. Towson

One of the more pressing matters Johns Hopkins dealt with was waiting for fifth-year senior attackman Chris Boland to recover from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

Now the No. 11 Blue Jays’ concerns have shifted to senior attackman Kyle Wharton.

An injury prevented Wharton from participating in the team’s scrimmage against Cornell last Saturday, and his status for the season opener against No. 20 Towson is up in the air.

“We don’t know yet,” coach Dave Pietramala said Wednesday of Wharton’s availability. “He’ll be a game-time decision.”

If Wharton, whose injury has not been disclosed by Pietramala, doesn’t play, a pair of freshmen in Brandon Benn and Kevin Interlicchio could join Boland and sophomore Zach Palmer as starters. Pietramala also said the coaches are considering moving a midfielder to fill Wharton’s absence.

Wharton posted 24 goals and nine assists last spring, and Pietramala said Wharton was supposed to be a calming presence on a youthful offense.

“You lose a veteran leader, you lose a captain, you lose a guy who has shown under pressure that he can perform,” Pietramala said. “So that’s difficult. But maybe just as important, you lose a veteran from a group and that makes you even younger. When we’ve got Kyle and Chris there, we’ve got a senior and a fifth-year senior. So you’ve got a lot of experience, you’ve got a lot of your leadership. It’s one of those things where you’d like to have him, but if you don’t, you don’t and you deal with it.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Towson

February 16, 2011

Amato takes lead, but race to start as Maryland's goalie not over yet

Redshirt freshman Niko Amato has the edge over junior Mark White in the race to start in the net when Maryland opens the season against Detroit Mercy this Saturday, but nothing has been settled just yet, according to coach John Tillman.

“Niko is in the lead right now,” Tillman said Wednesday afternoon. “Have we made a final decision? No. But I can tell you that Niko got the majority of the minutes against Syracuse [in last Saturday’s scrimmage], and he is in the lead. In the first scrimmage, we alternated exactly the same, and we felt like Niko was playing a little bit more consistently and we said, ‘OK. If we give him a longer duration, let’s see what happens.’ He fared very well. … I don’t think it’s over, but we do have a leader in the clubhouse.”

It was just two years ago that former coach Dave Cottle elected to rotate Jason Carter and Brian Phipps in the cage, alternating the pair by halves. While Tillman isn’t convinced that a similar strategy involving Amato and White would work, he said he’d consider it.

“In a perfect world, I would not like to [rotate goalkeepers], but if I felt that was the best thing for everybody, certainly I would do that,” Tillman said. “I would go against what I would prefer to do if it was right for the team. Having one guy is better, but I think if we put ourselves in a better position to win by going half-and-half until we get it sorted out, maybe we’d have to do that. I’m very sensitive to the goalie role maybe because I was one at one time. To give one guy everything and the other guy nothing when it’s that close, I think that’s hard because you might need the other guy. If one guy gets hurt in practice by taking a shot or he tweaks an ankle, you’d like to feel like the other guy does have some recent experience and you can put him in and you feel good. Either way, I think both of those guys are very capable goalies, and we’ve liked what we’ve seen so far.”

Tillman also said that several players are battling injuries that could prevent them from taking part in the season opener. Tillman declined to say which players are hurt, but he said none of the injuries are of the season-ending variety.

“We could hold some guys out,” he said. “I think it will depend on how much progress guys make. Our thing is, if guys can’t go and give us the full-go and we’re going to run the risk of putting them back four weeks by rushing them back, we’re going to hold them out. And also, we feel like we have enough competition on this team that if a guy isn’t all there, the next guy might be a better situation for us. So we’re going to take a long-term approach on this. We want to make sure that we don’t sacrifice for this weekend.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 1:36 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland

Virginia to retire Yeardley Love's number

Virginia will retire the No. 1 worn by Yeardley Love before its home opener on March 6 in Charlottesville. Love, the Virginia midfielder and Notre Dame Prep graduate, died last spring after she was assaulted in her off-campus apartment. Her ex-boyfriend, a Cavaliers' men's lacrosse player, has been charged with her murder.

Love's number will be retired in a ceremony to begin 10 minutes before the Cavaliers' 1 p.m. game with Penn State at Klockner Stadium.

"I hope our fans can attend and join all of us -- our team, Yeardley's closest friends and her family -- as we remember and honor her," Virginia coach Julie Myers said in a new release. "Yeardley's presence and influence on all of us will be forever cherished and held deep in our hearts."

Notre Dame Prep will also honor Love by building Yeardley Reynolds Love Field, a new artificial turf field. A scholarship at the Catholic school in Towson is also being endowed in her memory.

Posted by Katherine Dunn at 12:01 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Women's lacrosse

Goucher preview

This entry is the fifth in a series taking a look at each of the seven Division III programs in this state according to their order of finish from last season. The Sun’s lacrosse preview is slated to be published on Thursday, Feb. 17. Today is Goucher’s turn.

Overview: The Gophers enjoyed one of their more successful seasons last spring when they captured the Landmark Conference Tournament and earned the school’s first berth in the NCAA Tournament. Goucher lost in the first round to Middlebury, but emotions run high that the team can make another repeat appearance in the NCAA tourney. Landmines litter the schedule, but coach Kyle Hannan & Co. are eager to test the waters.

Reason for optimism: Don’t be surprised if the offense barely skips a beat. Thanks to the return of a trio of 30-goal scorers in junior attackmen Rory Averett (48 goals and eight assists) and Kyle Boncaro (38, 28) and junior midfielder Matt Lynch (34, 24) and eight of the squad’s top nine midfielders from last season, the Gophers are overflowing with talent on the offensive end. “It’s a luxury. It’s pretty nice,” Hannan said.” We return all those offensive guys, but it’s different. We’re still feeling ourselves out, figuring out what’s going to be the best routines. You’d think that we would just jump right into it and do exactly what we did last year, but we are going to change some things and add a little bit more to what we did offensively with our plays and our concepts.”

Reason for pessimism: The biggest question mark is in the cage, which had been manned by Chris Stricklin (6.13 goals-against average and .653 save percentage). But with his graduation, sophomores Connor Mishaw and J.J. Sagl are battling for the right to start. Hannan said he’s considering a rotation. “I’ve never been a big goalie-rotation or play-halves kind of coach,” he said. “I like to lock in on one guy and have the defense believe in him. But at the same time, every year is different, and if that helps our team and keeps everybody motivated, that’s something I won’t close the door on. But I’d prefer to choose a goalie and let it be his job.”

Keep an eye on: The team also bid farewell to Nick LaBricciosa, who won 51.4 pervent of the faceoffs he took last spring. Junior John Curry is the leading candidate to assume that responsibility, but he’s also projected to start in the midfield. That means his role could be limited, and sophomore Gavin Loney and freshman Stephen Patterson could be expected to contribute. “Are we going to be where we were at last year? That’s still to be determined because Nick just did a super job for us last year,” Hannan said. “We’re going to have to get better wing play, but we’re pretty comfortable with John Curry with his athleticism and his knowledge of how to be a successful faceoff player.”

What he said: Goucher can fully expect league foes like Drew and Catholic to aim to knock off the reigning Landmark Conference tournament champion – a scenario that Hannan sort of welcomes. “There is some excitement behind that because you kind of have to defend your territory now” he said. “Nobody sees you when you’re climbing the mountain and then once you get on top, everybody sees you. That’s kind of where we are now. We’re visible, and people kind of know you. But that’s a really neat challenge for us because we want to play competitive games and have people give us their best efforts every time just like we want to give other teams our best effort all the time.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Goucher

St. Mary's preview

This entry is the fourth in a series taking a look at each of the seven Division III programs in this state according to their order of finish from last season. The Sun’s lacrosse preview is slated to be published on Thursday, Feb. 17. Today is St. Mary’s turn.

Overview: Expectations are rising as the Seahawks continue to develop under coach Chris Hasbrouck, who is 18-13 in two seasons. After finishing third in the Capital Athletic Conference and compiling a 10-6 record, the team has earned spots in preseason polls by Inside Lacrosse (No. 18) and Lacrosse Magazine (No. 20). The biggest obstacle to St. Mary’s winning the conference tournament crown and qualifying for the school’s first NCAA Tournament? In-state rivals Stevenson and Salisbury. Still, the Seahawks are eager to test their mettle against their opponents.

Reason for optimism: The offense graduated just one starter in midfielder Ryan Alexander and returned 13 of its top 15 scorers from last season. The returning players are well-versed in Hasbrouck’s system, which means that there’s less time in practice spent on getting players familiar with the plays. “We’re not having to teach the majority of the team what we’re doing on the offensive end,” Hasbrouck said. “Practices were extremely smooth – from the fall right into the beginning of spring. We’re all on the same page right now, and we’ve got the luxury of working a bunch of different combinations of players. That’s been great. I think we’re clicking right now. Thirteen of our top 15 scorers are back, and the last two freshmen classes have been really strong. So they’re giving us great depth. It has been nice.”

Reason for pessimism: Losing Alexander sapped the offense of its top playmaker from the midfield. Hasbrouck is confident and seniors Chris Becraft (12 goals and six assists), Chris Morihlatko (10, 6) and Bobby Cooke (12, 0) and sophomore Patrick Mull (7, 25) can fill the void, but the team is still experimenting with the right personnel for the first line. “I think if anything now, more guys are going to have the opportunity to step to the front and take a little bit more responsibility on themselves,” Hasbrouck said. “… I think we’re spreading the ball a lot more. We can attack from a lot of different areas on the field. We have good variety of midfielders right now, and I think that’s going to help us.”

Keep an eye on: The coaches are still undecided on whether to start senior Pat Simpson or redshirt junior Stu Wheeler in the cage. Simpson registered a 9.20 goals-against average and a .574 save percentage in 15 starts in 2009 before he was supplanted by Wheeler, who posted a 9.21 GAA and a .548 save percentage last spring. “Pat’s been playing very, very well,” Hasbrouck said. “His sophomore year, he had a great year, and Stu transferred in last year and played extremely well for us. Pat’s worked very hard in the offseason, he’s had a great spring so far. So it wouldn’t surprise me to see either of those guys in the net.”

What he said: Hasbrouck chuckled when asked about the Seahawks recently earning national acclaim with their presence in  in preseason polls. “I think any recognition is nice. It’s just that right now, anything in the preseason is based a little bit on what you did last year,” he reasoned. “We kind of got out of the gate a little bit slow, but we came on and had a pretty solid year. It’s kind of a cliché, but it goes back to the guys. They’re buying into what we want to do. I think that more than anything – bringing in the right kids from an athletic standpoint and from an academic standpoint – it’s nice, but none of our guys are putting too much stock into it. Then again, I’d rather have it than not.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: St. Mary's

Towson trying to alter luck vs. Johns Hopkins by changing schedule

Since 1980, Johns Hopkins and Towson had scheduled their annual match-up for either late April or early May, and the contest sometimes served as a tune-up for the NCAA Tournament for both teams.

But the traditional grudge match was moved to the beginning of the schedule this season to accommodate both schools, and that’s fine with Tigers coach Tony Seaman, who is eager to help his team snap a 15-game losing skid to the Blue Jays on Saturday in the season opener for both teams at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson.

“We’ve never beaten them at the end of the season, so why not try the early part? I mean that sincerely,” he said. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. But if it’s broke, fix it. I don’t know why I would change it if I was them. We’ve saved their [butts] going to the playoffs two years in a row.”

Towson’s last win in the series took place on April 17, 1996, but Seaman said he has sensed an undercurrent of enthusiasm among his players.

“I think they’re feeling like we’re getting better each week, and they’re excited to start the season against Hopkins,” he said. “None of them were ever recruited by Hopkins. So this is a great chance to make a statement. So I think they’re excited.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Towson

Creating space a theme for Johns Hopkins' Wharton

There’s no disputing that Johns Hopkins’ Kyle Wharton has one of the fastest and hardest shots in the country – as evidenced when he tore the net with a blast in a 13-6 victory over Towson on April 28.

But Wharton is what is known in lacrosse circles as a stand-and-shoot finisher, and opponents disarmed the 6-foot-2, 205-pound attackman by assigning a short-stick midfielder to stay in his hands and prevent him from winding up and getting off a shot.

So in the offseason, the senior took it upon himself to become more a dodger and work on his off-ball movement so that he can free himself up for a scoring opportunity.

“It was frustrating,” Wharton acknowledged of the defensive ploys he faced last spring. “But after talking to the coaches all through the summer and through the fall, we’ve definitely improved in that aspect.”

The Blue Jays, who could potentially start three sophomores and a freshman on offense Saturday against Towson, need a more diverse Wharton. Last season, the team went 2-6 when Wharton scored either one goal or less.

In the offseason, Wharton took the initiative and worked on carrying the ball and forcing the action. With fifth-year senior attackman Chris Boland sidelined as he recovered from knee surgery, Wharton continued to refine his skills in fall scrimmages.

“For us, we needed Kyle to expand his role and expand his impact on this team,” coach Dave Pietramala said. “TraditionaIly, everybody looks at Kyle as a catch-and-shoot guy, a scorer from the outside. And teams will crowd him, teams won’t let him get his shots. They will game-plan against that. From the end of season and on through the summer and through the fall, we discussed quite frankly with him that he had to expand his role and his game. One of the good things about not having Chris Boland in the fall was, like it or not, that forced Kyle to do that. When he’s playing with a couple of freshmen or a sophomore, it was obvious that he needed to stand up and do more.”

Wharton said he is beginning to feel more confident with his added responsibilities.

“Working on that with [sophomore attackman] Zach [Palmer], it was kind of a two-man game between me and him, and I really think that I’ve improved in that aspect,” Wharton said. “That was something that I wasn’t really asked to do in the first three years, and then now that I have, I think I’ve definitely improved a bunch.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Johns Hopkins

February 15, 2011

Washington preview

This entry is the third in a series taking a look at each of the seven Division III programs in this state according to their order of finish from last season. The Sun’s lacrosse preview is slated to be published on Thursday, Feb. 17. Today is Washington’s turn.

Overview: The Shoremen went 4-10 last spring, continuing a troubling trend in which they missed the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the last four years. That precipitated a change in the head coaching position with former Virginia Military Institute coach Jeff Shirk succeeding J.B. Clarke. Shirk, who guided the Keydets to a 13-46 record in four seasons, is now tasked with the restoring a program that captured the national crown in 1998.

Reason for optimism: The offense lost a pair of starters in attackmen Brendan O’Leary (graduation) and Josh Perlow (unspecified reasons), but Shirk is optimistic about the unit. Junior Billy Stafford and sophomores Matt Lewis and Bennett Cord are poised to start at attack, while seniors Doug Herdegen and Shane Kaski and junior Morgan Braendel are slated to fill out for the first midfield. “I think we’ve got some depth on attack,” Shirk said. “We’ve got six guys in the mix that I think will all be able to help us. In the midfield, I think we’ve got a solid first line and then we’ve got a solid two that could make us have a five-man rotation. So I think it’s a matter of more repetition and getting used to the new offense.”

Reason for pessimism: As many as three goalies are competing for the starting role, which is not necessarily viewed as a bad thing by Shirk. Sophomore Matt Miller logged a 10.60 goals-against average and a .556 save percentage in 10 starts last spring, but he’s dealing with a mild concussion. Junior Peter Stewart recorded a .557 save percentage in four starts before suffering a dislocated ankle, and freshman Ted DiSalvo has been impressive in the preseason. “Matt’s such a big kid in the cage,” Shirk said. “He’s a good goalie, and Peter and Teddy DiSalvo are smaller, but quick kids. So they all bring something to the table. But right now, who knows? Matty didn’t play in the scrimmage last weekend because he got hit in the helmet and got a mild concussion. So we only saw Peter and Teddy, who both played well. So it’s kind of up in the air right now. Matt Miller was our projected starter in the fall and did a great job. So it really is up in the air right now.”

Keep an eye on: Washington was depleted on defense with the graduation of long-stick midfielder Thom Cecere and defenseman Bobby Baur, and sophomore defenseman Matt Torr elected not to return. Still, junior Bryan Botti and sophomore Michael Pierandri return as starting defensemen, and junior Jack Vermeil has a slight lead over freshman Taylor Lynn and sophomore Stephen Pappas for the third defenseman spot. “I think the unit is a work in progress, but I think we’ve got some good guys,” Shirk said. “We’ve got five poles right now at close that I think are fighting to be in the rotation. We’ve got a very good but young D-middie corps. With the defenses that we are working on, it’s all team defense. So we’re not relying on anyone to be an individual superstar. It’s more of learning the system to where we help each other out and the defense will take care of itself.”

What he said: Like his players and the team’s fans, Shirk has dreams of compiling an undefeated season, winning the Centennial Conference Tournament, and competing for the national championship. “The reality of that, we’re going to find out,” Shirk said. “But I think at the end of day, you look back and say, ‘Did I do everything I could that day to prepare for game day?’ And that’s what we’re preaching to our guys also. When game day comes, all we have to worry about is being excited and playing hard because all the preparation was done to where we’re going to give ourselves the best chance to win. So I think expectation-wise, yes, I have high expectations. But I also have a realistic side, that it is going to take some time. But the main point is that we’re working every day, at every practice to get ourselves better.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:00 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Washington

McDaniel preview

This entry is the second in a series taking a look at each of the seven Division III programs in this state according to their order of finish from last season. The Sun’s lacrosse preview is slated to be published on Thursday, Feb. 17. Today is McDaniel’s turn.

Overview: In what is becoming a routine habit, the Green Terror finished in the top four of the Centennial Conference and qualified for the league tournament. But the team failed to advance out of the tournament semifinals for the second year in a row. This year’s objective is aimed at taking that next step, and with 38 of 44 players returning from last spring’s roster, the program appears well-armed to be competitive again. But can McDaniel elbow its way past No. 6 Haverford, No. 7 Gettysburg and No. 15 Dickinson to capture the tournament crown?

Reason for optimism: The Green Terror bid farewell to only one starter, but that starter was Gibbs Preston, an attackman who posted 23 goals and 26 assists last season. Coach Matt Hatton is quick to say that no one person will replace Preston, but Hatton is optimistic that the trio of juniors J.S. Duke and Ben Yancheski, a transfer from CCBC-Essex, and sophomore Zach Woods can make contributions and help junior D.J. Rickels (42, 10). “I don’t know that we have one person that is going to be as capable of putting up as many points as Gibbs, but I feel like we’ve got two guys that we’re looking at real hard right now to play alongside D.J.,” Hatton said, referring to Duke and Yancheski. “Kind of like last year when D.J. was emerging as a playmaker for us, Gibbs took a lot of that pressure off of him. I’m hoping that with D.J. making that transition into being one of our central players, he can take some of the pressure off of some of the other guys that are going to fill that void.”

Reason for pessimism: The net featured a rotation of sophomores Brad Motley (9.72 goals-against average and .500 save percentage) and Ty Wittelsberger (8.08 goals-against average and .529 save percentage) as each goalie made seven starts. Hatton said that duo is once again competing for the starting role, but he would like to avoid another rotation. “The goal for us between now and next Tuesday [when the team opens the season against Montclair at home] – it would be great if we could figure it out between now and tomorrow – is to find the guy that’s going to give us the best chance and play that guy,” Hatton said. “I would never go into a season hoping to rotate, but I think last year, given the circumstances of how we started and how our defense player early, that gave us the best opportunity to win, and we got a lot of good games out of Ty and Brad last spring. We have Ty and Brad battling right now.”

Keep an eye on: McDaniel returns two starting defensemen, but much of the focus is on how to replace starting short-stick defensive midfielders Kyle Hadden and Anthony Falgares. Hatton said sophomore Michael Marks, who was No. 3 SSDM last year, and junior face-off specialist Matt Dean are expected to start. But Hatton also said that other players would be asked to contribute. “Given the fact that we pretty much bring back all of our offensive middies and some of those guys are pretty athletic, I think some of those guys are going to have responsibilities on the defense end as well,” he said. “We’re not going to play our first line all game and ask them to play defense obviously, but some guys are going to have a little more of a role on defense than they’ve had in years past.”

What he said: With eight of the team’s top nine scorers back and the top seven offensive midfielders, Hatton dismissed the notion that the program is in the midst of a rebuilding campaign. “If anything, last year was more of a rebuilding year than this year,” he said. “We started a lot of freshmen and sophomores last year, and they’re now sophomores and juniors. They’ve got another year of being battle-tested in what I refer to as the best conference in the country in the Centennial. We really only lost three guys that made an actual impact on game day. They were three valuable guys, but we’ve got a lot of guys back. So I wouldn’t refer to this as a rebuilding year at all.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: McDaniel

Towson's Wascavage could start in cage vs. Johns Hopkins

When Towson opens the 2011 season at home against Johns Hopkins Saturday, the Tigers could insert a first-time starter in the net.

Redshirt sophomore Andrew Wascavage is poised to start because of an illness that has sidelined senior Travis Love, who ranked 17th in the country with a .556 save percentage last spring.

An ailment prevented Love from participating in a scrimmage against Princeton on Saturday, according to coach Tony Seaman. “He was held out, and I haven’t heard from the doctor what the story is there,” Seaman said Monday. “So there’s a good chance it could be Wascavage.”

The 5-foot-9, 189-pound Wascavage appeared in four games as a freshman before getting redshirted last season. Seaman had said last week that Wascavage was competing with Love for playing time.

“He’s done a good job, and he’s certainly been pushing Travis,” Seaman said. “We think that he can be real good, but it’s not an easy start to ask of somebody. At least it’s here and not at Homewood [Field]. He’s going to see some shooters who are on a high level, but with the schedule that we play, we’ve seen that. He’s going to see something that’s going to be different. But he’s a pretty confident kid and a pretty aggressive kid. He’s pretty confident about his abilities. His whole thing since last spring has been, ‘I want to come off of my redshirt year, and I want to be the starter.’ Because of our situation, it looks like he’s going to get his chance.”

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Categories: Johns Hopkins, Towson

Navy freshman puts exclamation point on collegiate debut

Two hours before his collegiate debut against the Virginia Military Institute Saturday, Navy attackman Sam Jones received a text message from his father Dave Jones, a 1982 graduate who was the captain of the lacrosse team his senior year.

The message read, “Go have fun. Don’t be afraid to shoot.”

Jones, an Annapolis native and Severna Park graduate, took his father’s words to heart, unleashing eight shots and scoring four goals in the Midshipmen’s 14-8 victory. The output was the most by a Navy player since Taylor Harris scored six against Holy Cross on March 26, 2006, and tied the second-most goals by a Midshipmen during coach Richie Meade’s 17-year tenure at the school.

Jones said Monday that he never anticipated scoring four goals in his first game on the collegiate level.

“I was a little bit nervous, but there are a lot of guys on the team who do a good job of keeping us calm,” he said. “[Junior attackman] Taylor Reynolds, [senior goalie] Mike Haas, the two of them really look out for me, and it was nice. I’m real confident playing with the group that I play with, and that calmed me down.”

Jones was initially credited with five goals, but further review of the game film showed that fellow freshman Tucker Hull scored one of those tallies. Still, it’s an impressive showing for Jones, who quickly downplayed his performance.

“I’ve watched the film briefly, and I can easily tell you that there were a few things that I was doing wrong,” he said. “I had some goals, but I’ll be the first one to tell you that that game probably wasn’t the best I’ve played, and I hope it’s not the best game I ever do play. It was good. We won. That’s the most important thing. But I would say that there’s a lot of things that I could do better.”

In addition to his father, Jones’ grandfather Jack Jones was a 1954 graduate who was the 1954 recipient of the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association’s Ensign C. Markland Kelly Award, which is given to the top goalie in Divisions I, II and III. Sam Jones said he feels honored to continue his family’s legacy at the academy.

“It’s not a big deal in my household, not something that’s talked about a lot,” he said. “But my granddad’s at every game. My dad makes it out to about 90 percent of the games. I got a text two hours before the game that said, ‘Go have fun. Don’t be afraid to shoot.’ That’s all the lacrosse we talked about that week. I think we talk more about the Naval Academy experience than we do about lacrosse in general. But it’s really cool. I definitely feel that when I go onto the field, I’m playing for them, but you feel that way about your teammates and everybody else, too. It’s a cool thing to be a part of.”

Other notes:

*The Midshipmen converted 3-of-6 extra-man opportunities against the Keydets. Although it’s just one game, the production was a remarkable improvement from last season when the offense went just 22-of-58 (37.9 percent). Still, Meade wasn’t entirely satisfied. “I didn’t think we performed on the extra man as well as we could have,” he said. “I think VMI gave us a lot of opportunities to score that we didn’t take advantage of. We’ve been very basic in terms of what we do on our extra man. Obviously, we’re trying not to show everything because we’ve got to play some other people. … We basically came out, and you don’t want to confuse anybody. So we lined up and did OK. Internally, we didn’t run half of the plays the right way. A couple times, somebody didn’t do something they were supposed to do, but it worked out for us. So we’re just going to have to get a whole lot better.”

*VMI junior Stephen Robarge finished last spring ranked fourth in the country with a .615 face-off percentage. But he won just 10-of-21 against Navy partly because of junior Logan West, who won 11-of-18 face-offs. “Logan did a really good job,” Meade said. “Their kid is pretty good. He gets really low over the ball, and we were trying to switch up on him and not give him the same guy every time. But retrospectively, we should’ve probably let Logan go after it with a little bit more consistently. I was happy with Logan – not only with what he did at the X, but also the scrappiness and toughness that he showed after it.”

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Categories: Navy

February 14, 2011

Loyola to host 2013 Big East women's championships

The Big East women's lacrosse championship will come to Loyola's Ridley Athletic Complex in 2013. The conference semifinals and championship to be held May 2 and 4 will be the first Big East postseason event held at the 6,000-seat Ridley complex, which opened last spring.

“It is an honor to be selected to host the Big East Women’s Lacrosse championship in 2013,” Loyola Vice President and Director of Athletics Jim Paquette said in a news release. “We are humbled to be chosen and are excited to showcase Baltimore and the Ridley Athletic Complex as a first-rate lacrosse venue worthy of this tournament.”

In the meantime, Georgetown hosts the 2011 championships and Syracuse hosts the 2012 championships at the Carrier Dome.


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Categories: Women's lacrosse

Move to new conference benefits Mount St. Mary's off the field

Some observers might think that Mount St. Mary’s decision to leave the friendly confines of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference for the newly-formed Northeast Conference was a risky move.

But by joining Bryant, Quinnipiac, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart and Wagner, the Mountaineers earned increased funding for the program.

Coach Tom Gravante said until last year, he had four full scholarships with which to divide and offer to recruits. Now, he has nine scholarships and, for the first time, a full-time assistant coach in Travis Johnson.

Gravante said the additional scholarships allow him to compete with larger Division I competitors for recruits.

“Up until last year, I had four full scholarships. So I couldn’t offer the packages that some of these other guys could offer,” Gravante said, adding that he is communicating with high school juniors for the first time. “…That, coupled with the opportunity of being able to get into the game faster by offering the kids more enticing packages, you can play faster in the recruiting game. … It just picks up the recruiting pace for us and puts us in the game with a lot of the other schools. That is what’s going to keep us strong.”

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Categories: Mount St. Mary's

Hood review

This entry kicks off a series taking a look at each of the seven Division III programs in this state according to their order of finish from last season. The Sun’s lacrosse preview is slated to be published on Thursday, Feb. 17. Today is Hood’s turn.

Overview: The Blazers achieved a plethora of goals, including a school record six wins last spring. But the team is still searching for its first victory in the Capital Athletic Conference, and that task now belongs to Jeremy Mattoon, who succeeds Curt Foxx who resigned in June to take the same position at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark. Mattoon guided Hussoon to a 14-7 record in two seasons. Can he achieve a similar level of success at Hood?

Reason for optimism: The Blazers lost just one starter to graduation, and the returning nine starters have experienced the highs and lows of the program. Mattoon said he will lean on those veterans to set an example for the younger players. “The luxury is we’re going to put guys on the field who know exactly what they’re getting themselves into,” he said. “We are top-heavy. We have seven seniors – six will play a significant amount of time. We’ll play another five or six juniors. We are an experienced team. We are a team that is used to winning, but they aren’t used to playing at a level that we need to win games. … We will be driven by our seniors. Our seniors will lead us. Our seniors will take us where we need to go because they have a tremendous constitution.”

Reason for pessimism: Mattoon is the third different head coach for the senior class, and he acknowledged that his first objective was convincing the players to buy into his philosophy. Indications are that Mattoon will install a fast-paced scheme that will seek to take advantage of the transition game, and Mattoon said the players have bought into the change. “The challenge was to win over 35 players that, if I was a guy on the team, I would have some skepticism about bringing in another guy, another staff, another idea, another game plan,” he said. “And oh by the way, you have to play in the toughest conference in the country. Not only do we have to prepare them for what we’re trying to do, but we also have to get them ready to say, ‘OK, we don’t want to be a doormat anymore.’ We think we can be good if we work hard, so we kind of have to mentally convince them of that. It’s tough.”

Keep an eye on: William Lane made 14 starts in the net last year, but the sophomore is not a lock to begin in the same position when the season opens on Feb. 22. Senior Nicholas O’Brien and sophomore John Martin have turned the preseason into a three-horse race for the spot. “We have three goalies that we think are very good, and they’re all going to get playing time this year,” Mattoon said. “I can’t give you a starter because in all honesty, I haven’t named a starter. I think we have two very good sophomores and a senior who was our only goalie this fall. So he [O’Brien] played every minute in the fall because one of them played soccer and the other one was out for the fall. They’re all back, and I think they’re all playing very well.” 

What he said: The attack is in good hands with juniors Corey Roberts (24 goals and 5 assists) and Scott Thompson (24, 5), but Mattoon is high on senior Kris Miner joining that duo. “He’s a captain who’s got a ton of potential,” Mattoon said of Miner. “He’s fought injuries his whole career at Hood. I think he had a broken wrist here last year and missed six or eight games. … Miner’s going to really have to be our guy.”

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Categories: Hood

Question in net places burden on Maryland defensemen

As of last week, Maryland was still mulling whether to go with junior Mark White or redshirt freshman Niko Amato as the starting goalkeeper when Detroit Mercy visits College Park Saturday for the Terps’ season opener.

Neither White nor Amato is experienced at the college level, which would seem to place a great deal of pressure on starting defensemen Brett and Max Schmidt (no relation) and Ryder Bohlander, all of whom return this year.

Brett Schmidt said the defense’s responsibilities don’t change whether they were playing with a four-year starter or a rookie.

“We can guide the goalies along and play better defense,” said Schmidt, who – like Max Schmidt and Bohlander – is a senior. “If we give up sharp-angle shots, we’re going to give the goalie more confidence that he can build on during the season. So that’s definitely a key for us, to play good, tough defense and give our goalie the confidence to take us down the road and hopefully to championship weekend.”

Schmidt said the players feel comfortable with either White or Amato in the net.

“Experience is great, but we have tons of confidence in both Niko and Mark,” Schmidt said. “So it’s not too big of a deal. It’s just that little learning curve you have at the beginning when you’re starting college lacrosse and when you’re a starting goalie for the University of Maryland. So we just have to balance that and hopefully help whoever it is.”

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Categories: Maryland

February 13, 2011

Maryland preview

Sunday’s entry is the final installment of a week-long series taking a look at each of the seven Division I programs in this state according to their order of finish from last season. The Sun’s lacrosse preview is slated to be published on Thursday, Feb. 17. Today is Maryland’s turn.

Overview: The Terps enjoyed one of their finest regular seasons, winning 11 of 14 games and beating eventual national champion Duke, North Carolina, Johns Hopkins and Navy. But the team ended up being a footnote in Notre Dame’s historic run to the NCAA Tournament championship game, and the quarterfinal loss cost Dave Cottle his job as head coach. John Tillman, who left Harvard for College Park, brings enthusiasm and discipline to the program, but can he renew a program that hasn’t won a national title since 1975, been to the championship final since 1998, or advanced to the Final Four since 2006?

Reason for optimism: Maryland returns a wealth of experience and much of it comes from the senior class. Six of the 15 seniors on the roster are starters, including the entire attack and the entire defense. Add long-stick midfielder Brian Farrell and short-stick defensive midfielder Dan Burns, and the team can rely on players who have played in significant contests. Attackman Grant Catalino, one of those seniors, said he and his classmates are fully aware that this is the last time their window of opportunity is open. “This is our last shot,” he said. “There’s no next year, there’s no next season. So we’re doing everything we can – making sacrifices, putting in extra time, extra film, extra shooting, whatever it is – to be the best we can be this year because there is no next year.”

Reason for pessimism: The return of seniors Brett Schmidt, Max Schmidt (no relation to Brett) and Ryder Bohlander solidifies a stingy defense, but they must help out an inexperienced goalkeeper in either junior Mark White or redshirt freshman Niko Amato. Tillman said White and Amato present contrasting styles in the net. “Niko is a little bigger, a little wider,” Tillman said. “Mark is a little bit wiry, and he’s a little bit more animated in the goal whereas Niko is a little bit more efficient with his movement. He doesn’t stray too far from the goal whereas Mark will go out and run around all over the place. … I think both of them do a very good job, but just in different ways. I feel comfortable with either guy right now.”

Keep an eye on: The Terps will sorely miss the presence of Bryn Holmes, who won 54.2 percent of face-offs last spring and embodied the team’s tough, blue-collar work ethic. The leading candidate to replace Holmes is his younger brother Curtis, a sophomore, with players like juniors Jake Bernhardt and Michael Shakespeare, Burns and Bohlander having face-off experience. “I think this is a wonderful opportunity for him to step up and grab that position,” Tillman said of Curtis Holmes. “And we’re hopeful that happens this spring. He’s the lead guy right now, but we do have some other options, and I think you need to. With different face-off styles, sometimes match-ups become really important.”

What he said: Players have remarked about the increased emphasis on details in practice and in the film room, and Tillman reached out to players to get a sense of their thoughts on the direction of the program. But Tillman tried to downplay the notion that he has altered a lot from when Cottle was the coach. “I don’t know,” Tillman said. “I didn’t look and go, ‘Well, he did this, and I’m going to do this.’ I just felt it was important to do the things that we thought were important and do things that we felt we want to do.”

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Categories: Maryland

February 12, 2011

Mount St. Mary's preview

Saturday’s entry is the sixth installment of a week-long series taking a look at each of the seven Division I programs in this state according to their order of finish from last season. Check back on Sunday for a preview of Maryland, and The Sun’s lacrosse preview is slated to be published on Thursday, Feb. 17. Today is Mount St. Mary’s turn.

Overview: Despite back-to-back season-opening losses, the Mountaineers accomplished their goal of claiming their first berth in the NCAA Tournament since 2003. The team rode an improved, emerging offense, and although the defense surrendered more goals than the previous spring, both sides propelled the school to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament crown. Having made the move to the Northeast Conference, Mount St. Mary’s was picked to finish third behind leader Robert Morris and Bryant.

Reason for optimism: As mentioned previously, the offense paced the Mountaineers. After averaging almost six goals per game in 2009, the unit exploded to score 10.6 goals per contest last spring. Junior attackmen Cody Lehrer and Brett Schmidt and sophomore Andrew Scalley each scored at least 17 goals, and junior midfielders Bryant Schmidt and Jake Willertz each notched 21 goals. And all six starters return this season. Junior midfielder Mike Adkins, a starter last season, will likely be replaced by junior Eric Ososki (10 goals and three assists), who is moving from attack to midfield. “We have a pretty solid, a pretty powerful offense,” coach Tom Gravante said. “And they’re still pretty young. I’m really excited about them.”

Reason for pessimism: Graduation most impacted the defense, taking away starters Russell Moncure and Matt Nealis. Senior Andrew Miller is the lone returning starter, but senior Justin Schmidt, who started at long-stick midfielder, is making the move to close defense, and senior Kevin Downs is the leading candidate to be the third starter. A pair of freshmen in Shane Pierce and Tim Durkin will be part of the rotation. “We’re a little bit young down there,” Gravante said. “We still have our All-American goalie [in senior T.C. DiBartolo] coming back, but we have some kids down there that were coming in off the bench last year. They didn’t see a lot of solid playing time last year, and that’s going to be the question.”

Keep an eye on: DiBartolo has been the linchpin in the team’s success on defense. He ranks second in school history with a 9.42 career goals-against average and third with 556 career saves. But Gravante has emphasized reducing some of the workload for DiBartolo. That task will fall on the defense to funnel opponents to low-percentage shots that either miss the cage or can be easily gobbled up by DiBartolo.

What he said: There is no automatic qualifier associated with capturing the Northeast Conference Tournament, but Gravante is hopeful that a non-conference schedule that includes tilts against Virginia, Loyola, Georgetown, Drexel and Towson can help boost the team’s strength-of-schedule rating during the NCAA Tournament selection process. “I think the strength of this conference coupled with the schedule that we have outside the conference gives us an opportunity to maybe get votes for an at-large bid,” Gravante said. “… I think if these young men can sweep the NEC and go 3-for-5 [against the non-conference opponents], there could be an opportunity to get there. … The opportunity is there. The kids know that. There’s one answer and it’s win. That’s it. Win and you get there.”

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Categories: Mount St. Mary's

February 11, 2011

Navy's Warner not worried about generating goals

One of the big question marks surrounding Navy this spring will be finding the right mix of players on the offense end who can consistently generate goals.

Graduation took three of the Midshipmen’s top four scorers, leaving Andy Warner as the only returner with more than 10 goals last year. The senior recorded 22 goals and 15 assists and will likely draw the opposition’s best defenseman.

As Navy prepares to open the season Saturday against the Virginia Military Institute at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Warner said he doesn’t feel like the burden of scoring falls solely on his shoulders.

“I don’t know if I really feel a burden,” he said. “I have to play well. That doesn’t mean I have to score five goals a game or have five assists a game. I just have to make sure that when I’m out there, our offense is running smoothly. We have some playmakers on offense. The freshmen, [junior midfielder] Nikk Davis, [senior midfielder] Brian Striffler, we can all get the job done offensively. So no, I don’t really feel a burden where I have to score all the points or I have to have all the assists.”

Coach Richie Meade said the pressure to score is on every player. Consequently, there’s been more of an emphasis on making passes to open up the defense and moving without the ball.

“You can’t just say one player has to score more,” Meade said. “I think Andy’s a very good player, and Andy’s in a leadership role now. But he’s just one guy. We need a lot from a lot of other guys. And that’s kind of something that we’ve stressed. And that’s kind of the way we’ve been. When we’ve had success, we’ve gotten it from a lot of different people.”

Changes are afoot, even for Warner, who is making the shift from attack to midfield. Warner, who played midfield at Corning East High School in Corning, N.Y., said he welcomes additional responsibilities as the quarterback of the offense.

“I love that role,” Warner said. “You feel like you’re in complete control of the offense. That’s the way I like to have it. Are we successful when we do that? I don’t really know. I feel like I have a pretty good sense of tempo and feel for the game.when we slow the ball down and play good, solid offense on nice, solid possessions.”

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Categories: Navy

Loyola preview

Friday’s entry is the fifth installment of a week-long series taking a look at each of the seven Division I programs in this state according to their order of finish from last season. Check back on Saturday for a preview of Mount St. Mary’s, and The Sun’s lacrosse preview is slated to be published on Thursday, Feb. 17. Today is Loyola’s turn.

Overview: The Greyhounds enjoyed one of their best starts in the program’s history when they won nine of their first 11 contests. But an 11-10 triple-overtime loss to Cornell in the first round of the NCAA Tournament capped three consecutive setbacks and a disappointing end to the season. Loyola figures to be in the hunt for the first Eastern College Athletic Conference Tournament crown, but Denver, last year’s regular-season champion and the host of this spring’s tournament, stands in the way.

Reason for optimism: A defense that tied for third in the country in fewest goals per game surrendered bid farewell to starting defensemen Steve Layne and Kyle Cottrell, but the unit does return starting defenseman Steve Dircks and starting goalie Jake Hagelin. Junior Dylan Grimm and sophomore Reid Acton are poised to join Dircks as starters, and Nick Disimile, a fifth-year senior who made four starts last spring, is a valuable resource. Sophomore long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff is evoking memories of All-American P.T. Ricci, and sophomore Josh Hawkins and freshmen Pat Laconi and Kyle Duffy are battling for time as shor-stick defensive midfielders. “I think we’re going to be a strong team defensively,” coach Charley Toomey said.

Reason for pessimism: The Greyhounds offense ran through the attack last spring, and not much is expected to change this season. The problem is that the midfield is unproven. Senior Eric Lusby registered 20 goals and five assists, but he is still recovering from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his right knee and may move to attack to reduce added stress on the knee. Seniors Stephen Murray and Chris Basler started last year, but they are getting pushed by a group that includes Bucknell transfer and fifth-year senior Chris Palmer, senior D.J. Comer, junior Pat Byrnes and sophomores Davis Butts and Tyler Foley. Toomey is encouraged by what he has seen from the midfielders in the preseason. “I think the knock on us in years past has been, ‘Can their middies score?’” Toomey said. “From what I’ve seen, I believe our middies are capable of scoring.”

Keep an eye on: Loyola will lean on its senior leaders like attackman Matt Langan, face-off specialist John Schiavone, Dircks and Hagelin, but Toomey said the team will need contributions from its younger players. Freshmen and sophomores scored seven of the Greyhounds’ eight goals in a scrimmage against UMBC last weekend. “Our leaders are going to be in the junior and senior classes,” Toomey said. “They’re going to lead this team, but some of our talent that’s coming into the mix, they’re making names for themselves. They’re following those seniors and putting themselves in good positions to help Loyola.”

What he said: The key could be Hagelin, who ranked eighth with an 8.24 goals-against average but appeared to falter towards the stretch run of the season. Hagelin took it upon himself to work harder in the offseason and practice to maintain his conditioning and focus for the entire season. “I think Jake puts more pressure on himself than anyone else is going to put pressure on Jake,” Toomey said. “…This is Jake’s job, and this is Jake’s team. Jake’s pushing himself to be the best. He wants to finish strong, and all indications are he’s ready to finish strong.”

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Categories: Loyola

Q&A with former Army coach Jack Emmer

When Jack Emmer retired as Army’s head coach after the 2005 season, he left as college lacrosse all-time winningest coach with 326 victories. That mark has since been surpassed by Salisbury’s Jim Berkman, but Emmer continues to monitor the game from the stands. Emmer, whose job status with ESPN is in the air, shared his perspective on the upcoming season.

Question: Many analysts have picked Syracuse as the favorite to win the NCAA championship. What team poses the biggest challenge for Syracuse?

Jack Emmer: “Well, you’ve got to come and play every game, and last year in the first round of the tournament when everything was at stake, Army beat them at home. So they certainly can be beaten. Will Army do that again? I don’t know. But Syracuse, they’re the best team in the country. But they’re a little unproven on their attack, I think. They’re going to rely on a guy who was hurt last year in [sophomore] JoJo Marasco and [senior] Stephen Keogh. They’re good, and Marasco has a lot of talent, but he doesn’t have a lot of experience. So they don’t have that great offensive player to go to, but they’re excellent at the defensive end, particularly with [senior goalkeeper John] Galloway. So they’re going to be real tough to beat. But UVA, they’ve got a lot of offensive talent. They’re a little shy on the defensive end, I think, so they’ve got to put together a defense. But they’re right there. I tell you, the most talented team in the country might be Maryland. Unfortunately, this is Dave Cottle’s team. This was supposed to be his best team. They’re a very veteran team, very solid. [Senior long-stick midfielder Brian] Farrell is a horse, and they’ve got a couple guys like that. I think Maryland, if they can get their act together, could be very, very good. So they look like the three best teams to me. And then there’s a whole bunch packed together after that.”

Q: Is there an underrated team that you think will be poised to make an impression in May?

JE: “I think there’s a big-time sleeper that nobody talks about, and it’s their first year of being eligible for the Division I tournament, and that’s Bryant University, coached by Mike Pressler. They’re not going to get much publicity in the Baltimore area, but I’ve seen them play quite a bit, and I’ve got great respect for Mike. He’s an outstanding coach, as he was at Duke, and they’ve got some outstanding players. They have a junior goalie named Jameson Love, and he’s as good as anybody I’ve seen. They have a face-off guy who transferred in as a fifth-year student from Notre Dame [Trever Sipperly] who was Notre Dame’s face-off guy last year. They have a defenseman named [sophomore] Mason Poli, and he is going to be as good as any close defenseman around. They’ve got a good attack. They’re very balanced. They just need to score enough goals, but they’re going to be very good. Last year, they beat Army, they beat Yale, lost to UNC by a goal, but they might be on the cusp of getting there. I think Lehigh has gotten a lot better. That’s another sleeper. UMass is going to be pretty good. They’re always on the cusp. Siena, who knows about them? They play Duke in the first game, and they’ll give them a good game."

Q: Which coaching move will have the biggest impact in the game?

JE: “I would say the most immediate impact is probably going to come down to Maryland because I think the talent is there and they might respond well to a new approach and then that talent might step up to a new level. I think John Tillman is stepping into a pretty good situation in his first year there. I think they’ll be very receptive to him, and I think he could have a very positive impact because they’re good. I think Harvard [with Chris Wojcik] is in the mix with teams like Yale and Brown. They’re going to be pretty good, too. I still think Cornell and Princeton are the class of the Ivy League. Ben DeLuca being the new guy there [at Cornell], he’s a real protégé of Jeff Tambroni. So he’s going to keep that program focused and going in the right direction. And they’ve got a great player in [junior attackman] Rob Pannell. He’s as good as anybody in the country.”

Q: Is there a coach whose seat is feeling a little warmer than usual?

JE: “I don’t think about it along those lines. Nobody comes to mind. Being a former coach, I’ve got a lot of respect for coaches who have been successful over a long period of time. Guys like Dave Urick who probably has more wins than anybody. You don’t get dumb overnight. I know people are after him, but I think Dave’s a terrific coach. And I think Dave Pietramala is a terrific coach. When you’re in this coaching profession, you go through these periods of time where people might think you’re not as good as you ought to be, but people should be careful about what they wish for. Those guys are great coaches, and they may be down for a year or two, but they always bring their programs back. I can’t give you an answer to that question.”

Q: What players will be vying for the Tewaaraton Award in May?

JE: “I think [Stony Brook senior midfielder] Kevin Crowley is going to be in the running. And then I think Rob Pannell of Cornell is very outstanding. [Senior midfielder] Shamel Bratton of Virginia is very good. And then Syracuse has a bunch of guys, but the most outstanding long-stick middie in the country is [senior] Joel White. The best goalie in the country right now is John Galloway. He’s matured, he’s getting better every year, and he does everything well now. Those are five guys that jump out at me.”

Q: The debate on how to improve lacrosse rages on and the introduction of a shot clock is widely mentioned as an option to accelerate the pace of games. What’s your thought on this?

JE: “The thing about the shot clock that worries me is, it’s been used in the MLL [Major Lacrosse League], and it’s different than basketball. When the shot clock is running down, someone takes a three-pointer and you can make that three-pointer in basketball. In lacrosse, if they’re shooting it from the restraining line because they don’t have a good shot, then it’s just a catch by the goalie, and – boom – it’s going down the other way. So what teams wind up doing is they throw the ball to the corner of the field and run back on defense rather than letting the goalie catch it and start a fastbreak. To me, that’s a pretty unpleasant part of the game in the MLL. I think the shot clock in some ways would speed things up. But I tell you, if you want to start a little controversy, the thing that I think would speed up the game the best is getting rid of the face-off. Every year, there’s new rules on the face-off on how to officiate the face-off, where to place the sticks, where to keep your position for the officials. And the cheating is incredible on the face-off. I would say 40 percent of the time, they have a second whistle on the face-off because somebody jumped and they give the ball to the other guy. It’s an unseemly part of the game right now for a lot of reasons. And I know I’m absolutely in the minority here, but I say if a goal is scored, give the ball to the team on the backline. You can’t sub except on the fly, take it out on the backline like you do in basketball, and get the ball moving. That would speed up the game in my mind more than a shot clock would because then you would take that 30 or 35 seconds of dead time walking up to the next face-off out of the game. But the traditionalists – and you’d think that I would be one – like the face-off, and it would limit the face-off specialists. They would lose a chance to play lacrosse, which would be a drawback. But if you took that ball out of the backline and got it moving along right away, it would be in my mind a much faster gamer. Back in the real old days of basketball, they used to have a jump ball after every basket. They did away with that, and it sounds ridiculous now that they would do that in basketball. But someday, that’s going to happen to lacrosse, and I think it’s going to improve the game. But it probably won’t happen in my lifetime.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Q&A

February 10, 2011

Duke dismisses potential starter

Still trying to overcome the loss of senior defenseman Mike Manley due to a significant knee injury, 2010 NCAA champion Duke took another blow with the dismissal of junior goalkeeper Sean Brady.

First reported by Inside Lacrosse and confirmed by Blue Devils coach John Danowski, Brady was competing with sophomore Dan Wigrizer and senior Mike Rock for the starting role this spring.

Danowski said Brady remains at school, but will not return this spring.

“We love him, and we’re going to stand with him,” Danowski said Thursday. “But at this point, it’s just not possible for him to be a member of the team. We love him, and we’re going to continue to work with him and continue to support him.”

Wigrizer won 12 of his 16 starts last season, recorded a 9.41 goals-against average and a .508 save percentage, and became the sixth freshman in NCAA history to start in the cage for a national champion.

Rock won all three starts last spring, compiling a 5.79 goals-against average and a .444 save percentage.

Danowski joked that he didn’t have the courage to rotate goalies the way former Maryland coach Dave Cottle did in 2009.

“We were talking today at lunch, and we were saying, ‘Weren’t we having this discussion last year at this time?’ Danowski said. “You’d love for somebody to earn the spot outright with really consistent high level of play relative to their opponents. Sometimes, it’s really close.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 2:16 PM | | Comments (0)

Johns Hopkins preview

Thursday’s entry is the fourth installment of a week-long series taking a look at each of the seven Division I programs in this state according to their order of finish from last season. Check back on Friday for a preview of Loyola, and The Sun’s lacrosse preview is slated to be published on Thursday, Feb. 17. Today is Johns Hopkins’ turn.

Overview: The Blue Jays are out to prove that last year was an aberration. In compiling the program’s first sub-.500 record since 1971, the team dealt with a four-game losing streak and seven losses in nine contests. But the squad rebounded and qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the 39th consecutive time. A loss to eventual national champion Duke in the first round had coach Dave Pietramala pledging to review and change anything and everything associated with the program. Johns Hopkins is trying to keep pace with the likes of Virginia, Syracuse and North Carolina, and time will tell if the Blue Jays’ work in the offseason will pay dividends.

Reason for optimism: While the graduation of attackman Steven Boyle (32 goals and 23 assists in 2010) and midfielder Michael Kimmel (23, 16) would seem to cripple the offense, the unit does welcome back fifth-year senior attackman Chris Boland. He led Johns Hopkins in scoring with 46 points in 2009, but tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last March. Boland, who did not participate in the fall, is expected to join senior Kyle Wharton and sophomore Zach Palmer on the first attack. “Chris has a really good sense and feel for the game,” Pietramala said. “He’s our smartest player. So he see two passes ahead, he understands where the open man is going to be, he understands pace and tempo. He’s a fifth-year senior, so not only does he bring his abilities, but he brings – even though he missed a year – a wealth of experience, having been here this long, to a young team. And that’s invaluable at this point.”

Reason for pessimism: The Blue Jays relied on a large senior class last season, and that class is now gone. Pietramala said the program graduated over 250 games of experience and now return no more than 76 games of experience. “So you’re replacing a lot,” he said. “While we were young last year, we’re probably younger this year because there is no more [goalkeeper Michael] Gvozden, no more [defenseman Matt] Drenan, no more [defenseman Sam] DeVore, no more Kimmel, no more Boyle. There are five guys who played a lot of lacrosse in their careers here at Johns Hopkins. So you lose a lot there.”

Keep an eye on: Pierce Bassett in his first full season as a starting goalie will be key, but Pietramala is cautiously optimistic about the ongoing development of John Greeley and John Ranagan. The sophomore midfielders combined for 15 goals and seven assists as starters, and their progress could go a long way to taking some of the pressure off of the attack. “I felt like each time they walked on and off the field, John Ranagan and Johnny Greeley weren’t aware of each other,” Pietramala said. “They weren’t sure of how to play with each other, they weren’t sure how to play off of each other’s strengths. My sense now in watching them practice and watching them walk onto the field is that they’re much more aware of each other. They’re much more aware of how the other impacts them and the strengths of the other compared to their own. So that’s been really nice to see, their growth there.”

What he said: Practices have been crisper and more intense lately, which would seem to indicate that the Blue Jays are chomping at the bit to answer last year’s critics. “I’m excited to get back out and play because we all have a bad taste in our mouths from last year,” Pietramala said. “And that bad taste comes from no one but ourselves. We have a sense that people don’t think a whole lot of us because of our youth. We’re ranked probably right where we belong. We’re young and based on last year, we’ve got to do our job. There’s no need to talk. We don’t have any room to talk.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins

Q&A with ESPN's Paul Carcaterra

ESPN analyst and former All-American Syracuse midfielder Paul Carcaterra will provide color commentary when Duke and Notre Dame meet in Jacksonville on Feb. 20 in a re-match of last season’s national title game. Here are some of his thoughts on the upcoming campaign.

Question: Which team has separated itself from the pack as the front-runner for the NCAA championship this season?

Paul Carcaterra: “On paper, you look at Syracuse and Virginia in regards to what they have back. Syracuse has, I think, seven All Americans returning, maybe nine preseason All Americans, and they certainly have the goaltending and defense to carry that squad. I think the big question for Syracuse is maybe whether they can have two or three big dodgers emerge. And I think if that happens, their offense can click as well, too, because they certainly have the shooters and the inside players in guys like [senior attackman] Stephen Keogh and [senior midfielder} Josh Amidon. I just think that the thing that hurt them down the stretch last year was not having that player or two who could break a defense down in crunch time. I look at them, and then I look at Virginia with that offense. Virginia has the best offense in the country. They lost a lot on defense, so there are some question marks there. But if you look at Virginia’s offense with the Brattons and guys like [junior Chris] Bocklet and [junior Steele] Stanwick at attack, it’s going to be tough to contain them.”

Q: How much will the Syracuse players and coaches use last spring’s first-round exit from the NCAA Tournament as motivation?

PC: “It’s interesting because this senior class is one of the best that Syracuse has ever had with guys like [long-stick midfielder Joel] White, [goalkeeper John] Galloway, Keogh, Amidon, [midfielder Jeremy] Thompson, [midfielder] Jovan Miller and [defenseman] John Lade. Those guys won two national championships when they were freshmen and sophomores, so that’s all they knew. I think they were actually stunned that they weren’t back on the big stage last year. So I don’t think it’s even something that [coach John] Desko needs to really emphasize because I think all of the motivation can come from within that locker room.”

Q: Is there a team that people are paying enough attention to?

PC: “The talk in the lacrosse world is Stony Brook and Hofstra as teams that are fully capable of making a run. Both have great offenses. You look at a Stony Brook, and people realize how good they can be because of guys like [senior midfielder Kevin] Crowley, [senior attackman Jordan] McBride and [senior attackman Tom] Compitello. But they also have two other 20-goal scorers in [attackman] Kyle Belton who’s a junior and [midfielder] Robbie Campbell who’s a junior. So they’re not just a three-man show. That’s a very, very dangerous offense. So I think people know that. And I think people know Hofstra’s offense is dangerous with [senior attackmen Jay] Card and [Jamie] Lincoln. But one team that kind of intrigues me – if you go back to last year and that big upset – is Army. Army has a seasoned goalie and All American in [senior] Tommy Palesky, they have one of the best defensemen in the country in [senior] Bill Henderson. I think he doesn’t get the recognition that he deserves, but for the last three seasons, he’s just been dominant. He just shuts down the opposition’s top player. And then they have that 1-2 punch on attack with [senior Jeremy] Boltus and [sophomore] Garrett Thul. A good playmaker and feeder in Boltus and a great finisher and bull in Garrett Thul. The one question mark for Army is their midfield. I think if you really focus on that attack and make that midfield beat you, they don’t have those guys that can really stretch a defense or break a defense down. But they’re certainly a dangerous team. I like Army a whole lot.”

Q: Is there a team whose preseason ranking you question?

PC: “If you look at the preseason rankings with Duke, I think Duke’s history of success over the past five years, there have been some stars down there. But outside of [junior midfielder Justin] Turri and [senior attackman Zach] Howell, they have some huge question marks. They certainly have capable players, young guys who can do some great things down the road. But current day, I think Duke’s a little bit overrated. And I think the big question for North Carolina is if they can get some of their young midfielders to emerge. They can be a top team, but right now, that’s too big of a question mark for me. Their attack is great with guys like [senior Billy] Bitter and [freshman Nicky] Galasso and [sophomore Marcus] Holman and [junior Thomas] Wood. But their midfield outside of [junior] Jimmy Dunster is very unproven. These guys might grow up really quickly and be great players, but as of today, that’s a huge question mark.”

Q: Is there a freshman who will make an immediate impact this season?

PC: “There’s actually a bunch. You look at a Galasso at Carolina. He’s certainly a player that I think is going to have huge numbers not only because he’s so talented, but also because he’s playing with Billy Bitter and this is going to be the first time in three or four years that this kid is not going to have that huge target on his back. I think statistically, his freshman year could end up being one of his biggest because he’s playing with a first-team All American, and that focus isn’t entirely on him. A few other freshmen that I really like, I love Tommy Schreiber from Princeton, the midfielder. He’s outstanding. He plays both ends of the field, he’s a great dodger, he can shoot, he can score, he feeds the ball well. He’s about as polished of an all-around midfielder coming into college lacrosse as I’ve seen in some time in terms of being able to do a little bit of everything. So he’s a guy I’m excited to see play. Duke’s guys are going to have to grow up quick. They’re going to be playing a bunch of freshmen. And North Carolina’s playing a ton of freshmen midfielders, guys like T.J. Kemp and Mark McNeill. Those are young guys who I think are going to be thrown into a role quickly and will have to make plays.”

Q: Who’s the best attackman in the country right now?

PC: “All-around, I would say [junior] Rob Pannell from Cornell. The best feeder in the game right now, I believe, is Steele Stanwick, and the best dodging attackman is Billy Bitter. But all-around, it’s Rob Pannell because he does a little bit of everything.”

Q: Who’s the best midfielder?

PC: “Kevin Crowley is back as the [United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association] Player of the Year. Crowley is the complete package – feeding, defense, dodging. I think it’s unfair that people want to have reasons not to anoint the Brattons as top-flight, generation-type midfielders. But [senior] Shamel Bratton is one of them, and he deserves the recognition, and in his last couple of years, he’s been fantastic. He gets long-pole attention every time he touches the ball. But he’s great. An underrated midfielder who I think is one of the best in the country is [junior] Charlie Streep.”

Q: Who’s the best defenseman?

PC: “Joel White may be a long-stick midfielder, but he gets my vote. And Villanova has a player in [senior] Brian Karalunas, who’s awesome. The kid is all over the field. The best close defenseman? I like Bill Henderson from Army and [senior] Ryan Flanagan from Carolina.”

Q: Who’s the best goalkeeper?

PC: “Galloway is the returning [USILA] Goaltender of the Year. And another goalie to watch who, I think, can emerge as one of the top two goalies in the country is [junior] Mark Manos of Drexel.”

Q: Which players will be in the running for the Tewaaraton Award in May?

PC: “I’m going to go with Crowley, Shamel Bratton, Steele Stanwick, Rob Pannell, Joel White, Billy Bitter and John Galloway.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Q&A

February 9, 2011

Towson preview

Wednesday’s entry is the third installment of a week-long series taking a look at each of the seven Division I programs in this state according to their order of finish from last season. Check back on Thursday for a preview of Johns Hopkins, and The Sun’s lacrosse preview is slated to be published on Thursday, Feb. 17. Today is Towson’s turn.

Overview: A 1-5 start did not bode well for the Tigers, but they bounced back to capture the Colonial Athletic Association regular-season title before falling to Delaware in the conference tournament championship game. The program got another adrenaline boost with the return of coach Tony Seaman, who agreed to a new three-year deal in June. Now it’s on Seaman & Co. to see if they can end a two-year streak of losses in the CAA Tournament final.

Reason for optimism: Somehow, graduation didn’t touch Towson’s attack, which returns all three starters in senior Tim Stratton (15 goals and 18 assists), junior Matt Lamon (10, 4) and sophomore Matt Hughes (13, 4). Add juniors Stephen Norris (11, 2) and Sean Maguire, and the unit has the potential to keep the pressure on opposing netminders. “We’ve got good depth there, and all of them can score,” Seaman said. “Our problem is the quality of people we play against.”

Reason for pessimism: The departure of midfielders Christian Pastirik (28, 19) and Will Harrington (28, 6) sapped the Tigers of their best one-on-one dodgers up top. Senior Pat Britton (7, 6) and junior Carl Iacona (11, 2) could pair up with freshman Andrew Hodgson on the starting midfield, but Seaman said the emphasis in practice has been on avoiding one-on-one match-ups and making quick passes to open up the defense. “Right now, I think it’s hard for us to create for ourselves,” Seaman said. “So we’re going to have to find different ways to create and get open to where we can get good shots. I think a little bit of that is hoping that our defensive end can create some transition for us so that we can get up and down before they get settled in. But once they get in, we have to protect the ball because possessions become incredibly valuable for us.”

Keep an eye on: Travis Love is the starting goalkeeper after registering a 9.24 goals-against average and a .556 save percentage, but the senior is being pushed by redshirt sophomore Andrew Wascavage. Seaman said Love is still the starter, but he also said that he would have no qualms about inserting Wascavage. “He’s been terrific in the fall and coming into the spring,” Seaman said. “He’s challenging everything Travis does every day. Andrew’s been doing it just as well. It’s a tough thing, but it’s a really good thing. … I think he [Love] is the starter, but I think Andrew’s there threatening every day to take it away from him.”

What he said: Despite winning the CAA regular-season title, Towson was picked to finish fifth in the league’s preseason poll, ranked behind conference favorite Hofstra, Delaware, Drexel and Massachusetts. That’s fine with Seaman, who pointed out that the Tigers have never finished with a sub-.500 record in league play since they joined the CAA for the 2002 season. “We’ve always done well,” he said. “Some way, we’ve found a way to battle through and be competitive, and that’s what we have to do again. I think that’s where our strength of schedule outside the league helps us. After playing Hopkins, Maryland, Loyola, Navy and all those guys in a row, the league doesn’t seem to be that different.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Towson

Q&A with ESPN's Mark Dixon

ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins midfielder Mark Dixon is prepping for the upcoming season, which begins on Feb. 19 when he covers Johns Hopkins’ visit to Towson. Here are some of his thoughts on the 2011 campaign.

Question: Is there a clear-cut favorite to capture the NCAA championship this season?

Mark Dixon: “I don’t know if you want to call them a clear-cut favorite, but my chips are with Syracuse. I just think that with the senior class that they have – they’ve got seven seniors who are legitimate All-American candidates and all seven were selected in the Major League Lacrosse draft and they were all gone, I think, by the fourth round of an eight-round draft – that just really speaks to the talent that Syracuse has. They’ve got two other things working for them. They’ve got a quarterback for the offense, and that’s JoJo Marasco – something they didn’t have last year. And they’ve got that stinging playoff loss back in their minds. And if you recall the last time Syracuse had such a disappointing playoff outcome, that was the year they didn’t make the playoffs in 2007, and they followed that up with national championships in 2008 and 2009. So Syracuse is my No. 1 right now. I think you’ve got Virginia, you’ve got Notre Dame, you’ve got Maryland. But my preseason favorite is Syracuse.”

Q: Is there a team that may be getting a ranking that you question?

MD: “I think Duke would have to be the team that I would point to simply because of everything that they lost. I vote for the Inside Lacrosse Face-Off Yearbook, which pretty much has become the standard for preseason rankings, and I believe Duke was ranked fifth in that. I just think with what they’ve lost in [Ned] Crotty, [Max] Quinzani, Parker McKee, their No. 1 face-off guy in Sam Payton, a bunch of middies, [defenseman Dan] Theodoridas, [midfielder Jonathan] Livadas, [midfielder] Will McKee, No. 5 at this point is a little high for Duke. Anecdotally, North Carolina at No. 3 is looking a little shaky. The reason being is that they’ve had a number of injuries down in Chapel Hill in the preseason, and you couple that with the fact that Steven Rastivo, one of their goalies, is right now ineligible. He’s not on their roster, and I think that was something that was going to be healthy for that team, to have a healthy goalie competition between him and Chris Madalon. And also, you have to take into account the defense. They collapsed last year, so can they turn that around? I think they can turn that collapse on defense around. I think Joe Breschi will be good there, but North Carolina at No. 3 right now is looking a little shaky. But that’s not a result of preseason voting. That’s a result of some of the preseason games and practices where they’ve had a number of injuries."

Q: On the flipside, is there a team that’s being underestimated?

MD: “I think if you talk to any coach, they’ll probably say their team is not getting enough love. Or maybe not. There are some coaches that like to fly under the radar. I think one team is Denver. That’s a team that’s very talented, they won the ECAC last year, Bill Tierney is their coach which is a huge boost for any program. He took over a Denver program that was really in shambles. I believe the year before, almost a quarter of that team was suspended or kicked off the team. It was just really a mess. So not only to bring those guys together, but to get to the NCAAs last year was a huge accomplishment for the Pioneers. They’ve got some really nice games. They play Syracuse, Notre Dame, Duke, a huge game against Loyola in Baltimore in mid-March. On paper, that will decide the No. 1 seed in the ECAC Tournament. But I do believe that the ECAC Tournament is held in Denver this year because they won the championship last year. Huge advantage for the Pioneers. They’ve got some real nice players coming back. [Junior attackman] Mark Matthews, [junior attackman] Alex Demopoulos, they’ve got a nice middie in [sophomore] Cameron Flint. They’ll have to replace Dillon Roy, who was their best player last year, but I think Denver’s one of those teams that’s flying under the radar right now.”

Q: Which team has the best attack?

MD: “Right now, I’d put the No. 1 moniker on Hofstra. When you look at [senior] Jay Card, who I think was a second- or third-round pick selection in Major League Lacrosse, the evolution of his game has been incredible from when he came in as a freshman as just a pure finisher to exploding last year. This year, I think he’s really going to be looked at as one of the premier attackmen in the country. You couple him with [seniors] Jamie Lincoln and Stephen Bentz, and I think that’s a great group. A close second, maybe even 1A, would be Virginia. I think [junior] Steele Stanwick is phenomenal. And of his supporting cast, [junior] Chris Bocklet is a great finisher, [sophomore] Connor English is very, very good.”

Q: Which team has the best midfield?

MD: “I think you’ve got to go with Virginia simply because of you’ve got two of the best in the country in [seniors] Shamel and Rhamel Bratton. I think that they’re a dynamite midfield and are so athletic that they cause match-up problems all over the place. And then you’ve got a guy like [senior] John Haldy, who’s a great third guy you can plug in. Chris LaPierre is going to be a sophomore. I think Notre Dame, too. [Senior] Zach Brenneman is one of the top five players in the country, in my opinion. You’ve got [senior] David Earl, and that’s really a strong unit there.”

Q: Which team has the best defense?

MD: “I think right now, you’ve probably got to give the nod to Syracuse. [Senior long-stick midfielder] Joel White was Midfielder of the Year last year and is just such a dynamic force, getting groundballs, taking the opponent’s top middie, and leading the Syracuse transition game. [Senior defenseman] John Lade is one of the best cover guys in the country. Then you’ve got [sophomore] Brian Megill. And then with [senior goalkeeper] John Galloway, Galloway’s as good as it gets. But right behind them is Notre Dame. This is a unit that gets back [senior defenseman] Sam Barnes who missed all of last year. He’s excellent and was selected by Major League Lacrosse. [Senior] Kevin Ridgway was selected by Major League Lacrosse. They’ve got one of the best long-stick middies in the country in [senior] Andrew Irving, who’s just a groundball vacuum. They’ve got a kid in [junior] Jake Brems who’s coming back from injury and is phenomenal. And [junior] Kevin Randall is another guy who plays down there and is very, very good. They replaced their goalie in Scott Rodgers, who was terrific and the MOP [Most Oustanding Player] in the [NCAA] tournament last year, but [sophomore] John Kemp is very, very capabIe, and if he can elevate his game, I think Notre Dame is just a half-inch behind Syracuse at this point.”

Q: Speaking of Notre Dame, can the Fighting Irish prove that last spring’s run to the national title game wasn’t a one-year wonder?

MD: “Well, if you remember last season, I think they lost four out of six. They had a rough stretch there, and Notre Dame’s not a team that is going to score 12 to 14 goals per game. Nor on the defensive end do they have the flashy guy who’s going to throw his stick around or chase you to the parking lot to take the ball away. but they’re very disciplined, they’re very well-coached, and they’re athletic. They play a very cerebral style of lacrosse. Notre Dame is a team that is very dangerous when you get to a knockout tournament and if they get the right match-ups, and last year, they got perfect match-ups. Princeton in the first round was a team struggling to score goals. Maryland in the quarterfinals was a team that had a penchant to go cold offensively when they were really being frustrated by a goaltender. And then they get to the semis and the championship. So I do believe that Notre Dame – if it’s true that offenses win games and defenses win championships – has one of the top two or three [defensive] units in the country. So I think that’s a huge feather in their cap. I think they’ve showed that their attack is a little bit better this year. In the scrimmages against Team USA and Robert Morris, the attack fared well. I think for them to be dangerous, they’re going to have to cobble together goals and shoot better. But if Notre Dame does get back to Baltimore [for Final Four weekend], I don’t think it would surprise anybody. I’ve got them ranked at No. 4 in my preseason poll.”

Q: Who are the leading candidates to win the Tewaaraton Award?

MD: “The theme this year is seniors, and there are so many seniors out there. I think right away, you’ve got to point to [senior midfielder] Kevin Crowley from Stony Brook to take home the top prize. I think it starts with Kevin Crowley. Then you’ve got [attackman] Billy Bitter at North Carolina, Joel White at Syracuse, Shamel Bratton at Virginia, and coincidentally, they were the top four picks in the Major League Lacrosse draft. Crowley went [No.] 1, White went [No.] 2, Bitter went [No.] 3, and Bratton went [No.] 4. And if you’re looking for a wildcard, I would probably point to [junior attackman] Rob Pannell of Cornell, who has just been dynamite in his first two seasons up in Ithaca, and much like last season, no one’s really talking about Cornell right now. Coaching change, they lost some talent, and therefore, no one’s really talking about Pannell as an individual. So I think Pannell might round out your top five. And I would throw in Zach Brenneman from Notre Dame. So those are my top six guys who might be in DC for that presentation later on in the year.”

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Categories: Q&A

February 8, 2011

UMBC preview

Tuesday’s entry is the second installment of a week-long series taking a look at each of the seven Division I programs in this state according to their order of finish from last season. Check back on Wednesday for a preview of Towson, and The Sun’s lacrosse preview is slated to be published on Thursday, Feb. 17. Today is UMBC’s turn.

Overview: The Retrievers endured a 4-9 record, their worst mark under coach Don Zimmerman since going 3-9 in 1996. Instability in the cage, the absence of a consistent offense, and a lack of depth plagued UMBC, which had won three of the previous four America East Tournament championships prior to last spring. Returning to that stage could be an arduous task with Stony Brook poised to make a deep run into the postseason, but Zimmerman has demonstrated a knack for maximizing his team’s talents and potential.

Reason for optimism: The Retrievers will need the defense to lead the way while a young and inexperienced offense finds its footing. Junior defensemen Tim Shaeffer and Aaron Verardi became starters after midseason, and Dave Stock, a senior who transferred from CCBC-Essex, might be the third starter. A group that includes sophomores Riley Hansen, Sam McKelvey and Lucas Wood and freshmen Ian Gray and Breck Merritt also shows promise, Zimmerman said. “You win by playing good defense, so obviously, it’s important,” Zimmerman said last Wednesday.

Reason for pessimism: UMBC bid farewell to a large senior class, opening the door for a sizable youth movement. In fact, 28 of the 36 players on the roster are freshmen and sophomores, but Zimmerman refuses to call this a “rebuilding” year. “When you have a young team, there are always going to be growing pains,” he said. “I don’t like to use the term rebuilding. I think you go into each season optimistic. You go in with the intention of winning every game – whether that’s realistic or not, that remains to be seen. But that’s got to be the approach. I would say it’s more of a refocusing year.”

Keep an eye on: The goalkeeping situation remains unsettled. Sophomore Adam Cohen started eight games last season and posted an 8.76 goals-against average, but junior Brian McCullough is challenging Cohen for the starting role. “We have two goalies this year, Adam and Brian McCullough. They’ve worked very hard, showing improvement, and the position is up for grabs,” Zimmerman said.

What he said: Sophomore midfielder Nick Doub was supposed to be a cornerstone for the season, but he opted not to return in the fall. In addressing Doub’s decision, Zimmerman emphasized that the coaches made it clear that they sought those players intent on dedicating themselves to improving the team. “The message that we sent out with our end-of-season workouts and fall welcome-back letter was, look, we want guys who are committed and who are willing to make the sacrifices and do the things that are necessary for us to be a successful lacrosse team,” he said. “We move forward with the guys who felt like they could make that commitment.”

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Categories: UMBC

Q&A with ESPN's Quint Kessenich

ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins All-American goalkeeper Quint Kessenich is juggling his responsibilities covering both college basketball and lacrosse, but he was kind enough to share his thoughts on the upcoming lacrosse season.

Question: It seems that unlike previous years, there is no clear-cut favorite to capture the NCAA championship. Is that a fair assessment?

Quint Kessenich: “That’s a great point. In my eyes, this is a very strong year. There are almost about 10 really good teams. Teams that played on championship weekend, teams that made the quarterfinals last year who appear to be strong on paper this year. But of those top nine or 10 teams, there’s not a team that, from A to Z, has great balance. They all have their strengths and they all have a weakness. And so I think this year is going to be outstanding. I look at teams like Cornell, which returns its whole team; Notre Dame, which returns the majority of its team; Stony Brook, which returns tons of talent; Hofstra, which returns tons of talent; Maryland, which returns tons of talent. There are some team from last year that can take the next step this year, and there’s going to be some great lacrosse.”

Q: Which team got your No. 1 vote in preseason polls?

QK: “I have Syracuse up top. Even though they lost to Hofstra in a scrimmage the other day, I still think Syracuse, because of their defense and their experience, I give them a 1. I gave Virginia a 2, but I’ve got Maryland at 3, and Maryland’s right on the heels of Virginia. I think this Maryland team is a team that can give Virginia fits this year. And then at 4, I have Notre Dame, which is much higher than most, but I got to see them in person down in Florida and they return their whole team minus the goalie. And then I’ve got Stony Brook at 5.”

Q: Since you watched Notre Dame lose to the U.S. National team, 11-7, in Florida a couple weeks ago, what was your impression of last spring’s tournament finalist?

QK: “Exceptional defense. As they were last year, they continue to ramp that up. They’re going to play defense regardless of what happens. That’s a known quantity, and that’s the framework that Coach [Kevin] Corrigan is going to build on, and that’s going to keep them in every ballgame. Improved attack play. [Sophomore] Ryan Foley and [junior] Sean Rogers look like they’re a little better, and they really won last year without having an attack. And then you have the two midfielders in [seniors] Zach Brenneman and David Earl, who are elite. But the other guys – there are three sophomores – are really going to have to play well if Notre Dame is going to make some noise. Pat Cotter, Tyler Kimball and Steven Murphy, they’re good athletes. They’re just not goal scorers yet. So their question marks will be on offense again, but I really like them. I thought even losing to Team USA, they played good defense, they have a formula, and I think that’s a good team this year.”

Q: How would describe Duke’s chances of repeating as national champions?

QK: “I don’t think they’re a national championship contender right now. They’re playing in an extremely difficult conference where on paper, I have them at either No. 3 or No. 4 in their own conference. They have some good players, but that senior class and that plus-1 class, they lost tons, and I’m ranking them somewhere around the 10, 11 or 12 spot right now. I could see them not making the NCAA Tournament. They’re going to have a pretty athletic lineup, but an inexperienced lineup. They’re going to be OK. I just don’t think they’re a championship weekend-caliber team anymore.”

Q: Is there a team flying under the radar?

QK: “There are very good teams who aren’t getting as much respect. Stony Brook was a quarterfinalist last year, and they’re back and strong. Princeton has got basically its whole team back minus [sophomore midfielder] Mike Chanenchuk [who has withdrawn from school]. I’m not as strong a believer in North Carolina. Army returns its entire team basically. So a dark horse? You’ve got to go in the conferences. Is Drexel ready to take the next step? Hofstra has a very good team, and they beat Syracuse in a scrimmage. But from the smaller conferences, a team like Hofstra, a team like Denver, the Ivy League is wide open, but Cornell and Princeton could be the class of that league. There’s just a lot of good teams this year.”

Q: Of the coaching changes that occurred, which will have the biggest impact?

QK: “John Tillman will have more of an immediate impact. Maryland will be in the news more this year because they’re such a veteran team, and they’re going to be very strong. So John Tillman will be very newsworthy this spring. But Jeff Tambroni, long term, at Penn State, that’s the most significant of the coaching moves. To take over a program after leading Cornell to three of the last four championship weekend, and he’s kind of starting from scratch there. He’s cut their roster down to about 24 student-athletes, tried to weed out some of the dead wood, and he’s going to start over. From what I’ve heard, he’s done a fabulous job recruiting over the next two years. Penn State’s athletic department appears to be supporting all of his hunger, and that’s going to be a big-time story in three or four years. He will turn around Penn State quickly.”

Q: Which transfer will have the most impact?

QK: “Steve Serling at Hofstra, a midfielder from Lafayette. Put up a lot of points last year, he’s a good passer, he fits in right away. He’s running the first midfield for Hofstra. Tom Palasek at Syracuse. It remains to be seen how they’re going to use him. I heard he looked good in the scrimmage last week. He’s a natural attackman. Hw took some shifts at midfield, so I’m not sure how that’s going to work itself out. I think that’s the two highest-profile transfers.”

Q: Which players should we keep an eye out for with regards to the Tewaaraton Award?

QK: “[Senior midfielder] Kevin Crowley at Stony Brook. He was the National Player of the Year. [Senior midfielder] Shamel Bratton at Virginia. I think [senior goalkeeper] John Galloway at Syracuse will have an opportunity. If Syracuse plays great defense, he will shine from a goalie’s standpoint. [Junior attackman] Rob Pannell at Cornell has put up ridiculous numbers. He really wasn’t surrounded by very much last year, and still, he had an incredible season. I have so much respect for Rob Pannell. [Junior attackman] Steele Stanwick at Virginia will have an opportunity. And [senior attackman] Billy Bitter has to be put on that list.”

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Categories: Maryland, Q&A

February 7, 2011

Navy preview

Monday’s entry kicks off a week-long series taking a look at each of the seven Division I programs in this state according to their order of finish from last season. Check back on Tuesday for a preview of UMBC, and The Sun’s lacrosse preview is slated to be published on Thursday, Feb. 17. Today is Navy’s turn.

Overview: Last spring saw the Midshipmen lose out on capturing what would have been their sixth Patriot League Tournament championship in the last seven years, and they missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003. The eight losses tied a season-low since Richie Meade became the head coach prior to the 1995 season. The outlook doesn’t appear easier with Army reloaded for another run at the Patriot League crown and another berth in the NCAA tourney, and Bucknell and Colgate nipping at Navy’s heels. But if there’s one thing about the Midshipmen, it’s that they’re unwilling to go down without a fight.

Reason for optimism: In a preseason scrimmage on Jan. 29, Navy edged reigning national champion Duke, 9-8. Meade cautioned against making too much of the result, but he conceded that he was pleased with the way starters R.J. Wickham, Matt Vernam, Michael Hirsch and Peter Rogers played. “Duke didn’t really overpower us very often,” Meade said last Thursday. “A lot of the goals we gave up were when young guys were on the field and either didn’t slide or were maybe a little too aggressive. So I think athletically, we’re OK. But in order to play our scheme, you’ve really got to understand it, and if you get two or three guys that don’t really have a great feeling of what we’re doing, it gets really ugly really fast. Our goal is to always keep an opponent under 10 and hopefully under seven, so it was OK. I thought we got a lot of shots on the goal. I don’t we shot particularly well, but we hustled, we played hard.”

Reason for pessimism: Graduation took a toll on the offense, and Inside Lacrosse reported that injuries have already sidelined starting attackman Ryan O’Leary (knee) and midfielder Taylor Cook (concussion). That would seem to place the offensive burden on senior Andy Warner, who is the only returner to score 10 or more goals last spring. “It still remains to be seen, but in practice at least, at attack, I think we’re better,” Meade said. “We actually have five freshmen that are going to see significant time, and a junior [Taylor Reynolds] that’s going to play a little bit and we have a senior [Sean Dinn] that has returned to the team after a couple of years. So it’s not as bleak as a lot of people think. But they’re going to need experience.”

Keep an eye on: Almost half of the roster is populated by freshmen, and 39 of the 56 players are freshmen and sophomores. Growing pains are inevitable, but Meade is intrigued by the potential. “This may be the youngest team we’ve put on the field in many years,” he said. “We’ve kind of changed who we’ve been in the last couple years. I think we’ve upgraded our speed and athletic ability in the midfield. I think at attack, we’re a little bit deeper. More inexperienced, but a lot of the guys are coming in after a year of playing at the Naval Academy Prep School. They’re talented, and I think the league is going to be very, very competitive.”

What he said: The Midshipmen are not the favorites to capture the Patriot League for a first time in a long time. In fact, few people are talking about Navy, which has not escaped the team’s attention. “I think for our team, we’re not even part of the conversation,” Meade said. “That’s fine with us. But like everybody else, it kind of pisses you off. So that’s kind of our attitude right now. We’ve got to fight our way back to where we’ve been.”

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Categories: Navy

Duke not running on national title fumes

The euphoria has worn off for Duke.

It’s been more than eight months since the Blue Devils captured their first national championship with a 6-5 overtime victory over Notre Dame at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, and coach John Danowski was candid in saying that the team must move on.

“It doesn’t take long to realize that no two years are related to one another,” Danowski said Friday. “In September, you miss the seniors and you don’t know who the freshmen are. So really quickly, you realize it’s a whole new team. And whatever happened last year is certainly a distant memory. A nice one, and they’re all good memories because we love to play and compete and coach. But the bottom line is, there’s nothing that’s related to last year with this team.”

Part of Danowski’s rationalization comes from the graduation of attackmen Ned Crotty, Max Quinzani and Will McKee and midfielders Steve Schoeffel, Jonathan Livadas and Mike Catalino. Those six players combined for 143 goals and 107 assists, which accounted for 57.3 percent of Duke’s points last season.

The departure of Crotty and Quinzani is especially painful, Danowski said.

“Certainly, you don’t replace them,” he said. “They were extremely unqiue individuals. Ned played midfield his first couple years and then played attack. Max was a consistent scoring threat every time he stepped onto the field. So you don’t [replace them]. But with the next group of guys, this team will certainly look different.”

Other notes:

*Dan Wigrizer made 16 of the team’s 20 starts in the cage last season, but the sophomore hasn’t cemented his hold on the starting goalie position this spring. Senior Mike Rock and junior Sean Brady, who is back after being ruled academically ineligible last year, are making their cases for playing. “Sean Brady has been brilliant at times, but he hasn’t played in a year,” Danowski said. “That’s a long time to be away, especially in that position. And Mike Rock is playing the best that he has with us – in practice anyway. With that being said, who knows what that means? But both have gained a lot of experience, and Danny is certainly playing really well. So we’re – as of today – really happy with all three goalies.”

*For all of the attention surrounding the offensive losses, the Blue Devils may be just as vulnerable on defense. Starters Parker McKee and Dan Theodoridas graduated and starter Michael Manley will miss the entire season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee last August. Senior Tom Montelli, who was a long-stick midfielder last spring, sophomores Billy Conners and Jimmy O’Neill, and freshman Chris Hipps are competing to start on defense. “It’s still about team defense, trying to force the ball to certain spots on the field, sliding and recovering, recognizing match-ups, giving up poor-angle shots or outside shots,” Danowski said when asked about the impact of Manley’s absence. “In theory, team defense is still the same. It’s just that Mike was a leader and a guy who had been in a lot of big games for us. But on the positive side, Mike’s back for next year, and we’ll get younger and gain experience and create some depth for the future.”

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February 4, 2011

Penn State's Tambroni explains decision not to interview for Maryland vacancy

When Jeff Tambroni agreed last June to leave Cornell for Penn State, his decision stunned lacrosse fans and observers. After all, Tambroni had just guided the Big Red to their third Final Four in the last four years and at least a share of the last eight Ivy League championships.

The move especially shocked the Maryland fanbase because Tambroni had turned down a request by the school’s search committee to interview him and gauge his interest in succeeding Dave Cottle. The Terps eventually hired away Harvard coach John Tillman.

Tambroni, whose wife Michelle is a former field hockey All American with the Nittany Lions and will assist the team, his refusal to interview with Maryland’s search committee should not be interpreted as a sign of disrespect towards the Terps.

“It’s certainly considered one of the premier spots in college lacrosse,” Tambroni said Thursday of Maryland. “An established tradition, a place that cares an awful lot about lacrosse in an area that not only cares but also understands a lot about the sport of lacrosse and where it is amongst the top priorities. Penn State was, I thought, just a little bit different. It was a chance to build. I wouldn’t say from the ground up because Coach [Glenn] Thiel did a pretty good job in his time here of developing the foundation and sparking the interest of lacrosse here in State College. But I just thought in terms of the surrounding area, where State College is located, with my wife’s background here at Penn State, it was an opportunity to build more along the lines with a program that hasn’t had an established tradition of national championships. It was just much more of what I was looking for professionally in that regard. No disrespect to Maryland. I think anybody would be lucky – I think Coach Tillman is, I think Coach Cottle was – to have a program with that much success and cares that much about the sport of lacrosse.”

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Penn State's Tambroni applies brakes to rising expectations

When Penn State successfully wooed Jeff Tambroni away from Cornell, fans and observers quickly stamped the Nittany Lions as a playoff contender.

Slow down, Tambroni is cautioning.

“I’m smart enough to know that when I was at Cornell, it took so many hands to kind of stir that pot – from the alums to the administration to our strength and conditioning coaches to our assistant coaches to each member of that team – to get to the point where we garnered some success,” he said Thursday. “… I don’t think with just my addition here, all of a sudden we’ve become an instant playoff contender. I think that’s extremely unfair because I know that one man doesn’t have that power – at least I know that I don’t. I just think that in regards to building a team, you’ve got to get everybody on board. … I think we understand that we’ve got a lot of work to do. Anything is possible, but I think we understand and can appreciate how much work it actually takes to be one of the last 16 teams standing.”

Still, Tambroni has the pedigree to turn around Penn State, which has advanced to the NCAA Tournament just twice (2003 and 2005) in 98 years, He compiled a 109-40 record in 10 years with the Big Red and never once had a sub-.500 mark. Tambroni guided Cornell to three Final Fours in the last four seasons, and the school had captured at least a share of the last eight Ivy League titles.

“We certainly don’t want to focus all of our efforts on just winning, but we would like to establish more of a consistency in regards to our results and our efforts – both on and off the field – that will hopefully pay dividends into the future about where we compete in college lacrosse,” Tambroni said. “I think we’re all hopeful that someday, we’ll be considered a team that is competitive year in and year out and is more of a mainstay in the NCAA playoffs, which we realize is going to be an extremely difficult challenge with all the other teams trying to do the same exact thing.”

Other notes:

*The Nittany Lions won just twice in 13 contests last spring, but that doesn’t mean they’re toothless. The attack returns a pair of starters in junior Matthew Mackrides (36 goals and eight assists in 2010) and sophomore Billy Gribbon (23, 8), and sophomore Nick Dolik (21,6) appears poised to join them on the first unit. Add a pair of midfielders in sophomore Kyle VanThof (6, 9) and senior Colton Vosburgh (8, 4), and it’s not far-fetched to think that the offense could lead the way early in the season. “I would say that at this point, we’re a little bit more mature and a little bit further ahead [on offense],” Tambroni said.

*The defense welcomes back a pair of starters in senior Matt Bernier and junior Bill Davis. But Tambroni is leaning towards starting freshman goalkeeper Austin Kaut over senior John Nichols and sophomore Dave Baker, who made all 13 starts last year. “To Austin’s credit, he played well in the fall and started for us in that UMBC scrimmage and played well,” Tambroni said. “It was his first start as a freshman in a fall scrimmage, learning a brand new system. I thought he did well, and I’d say that if I had to project right now who our starter would be, I think it would be fair to say that Austin is probably going to be that guy.”

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First-round exit continues to haunt Syracuse

It seemed that the stars were aligned for Syracuse to reach the NCAA Tournament final last May and at least play for the program’s third consecutive national crown.

But the Orange didn’t even get out of the first round, falling to Army, 9-8, in double overtime and finishing with a 13-2 record. The loss snapped an eight-game winning streak in the postseason and marked the first time that Syracuse had suffered a tournament setback in the Carrier Dome since 1991.

Time may have healed the wound, but coach John Desko said the loss continues to follow the players and coaches.

“I think players have used that as motivation,” he said Thursday. “We had one of our best regular seasons ever. We lost one game by one goal, and we got into the playoffs against a team that we had already beaten during the year and we lost in overtime. They were very disappointed in that. Nobody ever plays to lose, but we didn’t have that loss. Our first loss was our third game of the year against Virginia down there, and we didn’t have another loss. … So we hadn’t experienced that loss, and I kind of wonder if that loss would have helped us. But we play to win, and Army played a great game against us. We lost in the first round, so for a senior group that had won championships in their freshmen and sophomore years, they know what it tasted like. It was a bitter pill and they want to learn from that and use that as motivation this year.”

Desko said players and coaches talked wistfully about the season at a season-ending barbecue at his house after the loss and shake their heads at what could have been. It was a humbling moment for a proud school that has captured 11 national championships.

“We’ve kind of built this big gorilla here, and the expectations come with it,” Desko said. “But I think along with their education, that’s why a lot of players choose to come to Syracuse. They feel they have a good chance of going after a national championship and so they come with those expectations and they kind of put that on themselves before they’ve even enrolled. So I think it comes with the territory here. I think we’re used to it.”

Other notes:

*Nineteen freshmen populate the Orange’s roster, and three – attackmen Pat Powderly and Billy Ward and midfielder Jake Bratek – are Under Armour All Americans. Ward could get significant playing time this season, but Desko said he anticipates leaning on the team’s veterans to carry the load. “I think we’re relying more on our upperclassmen,” Desko said. “Our senior class has already won two national championships and was in the playoffs last year. So they aren’t strangers to big games.”

*One freshman who was expected to play is Hakeem Lecky. But the talented midfielder will miss the entire season after breaking his wrist in practice on Jan. 19. Prior to the injury, Lecky was thought to be a fixture on the second midfield, joining a trio of sophomores in Ryan Barber, Pete Coleman and Steve Ianzito. “He was a guy that we wanted to get a lot of experience this year, and he had very good quickness and speed,” Desko said of Lecky. “The experience that he was going to get this year as a freshman was going to pay off next year as far as giving us another go-to guy. So he’ll be a redshirt freshman for us next year without any game experience.”

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February 3, 2011

Boys' Latin's Dudley primed for starting role at Cornell

Among the several holes Cornell must address prior to the upcoming seasons is the void created by the graduation of midfielder Chris Ritchie, who recorded 17 goals and eight assists last spring.

For now, that role appears to belong to senior midfielder Jack Dudley.

The Baltimore native and Boys’ Latin graduate will get the first crack at joining junior Roy Lang and senior David Lau on the first midfield line, and the opportunity caps a meandering journey that has taken him from short-stick defensive midfielder to offensive midfielder.

“Over the last two years, it’s kind of been a big transition for me because I’ve gone from D-middie to offensive midfield,” Dudley said Tuesday. “But last year, I found something that works for me, and that’s not worrying about the pressure around you. I’ve become a student of the game, and I just go out there and work as hard as I can to get better and get my teammates better.”

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Dudley posted four goals and three assists in 18 games last season, which also included two starts. What Dudley lacks in offensive polish, he said he will make up with his tenacity on the field.

“I’m not a guy who’s going to blow you away with speed, and I’m definitely not the most athletic guy on the field,” he said. “But I’m going to be the hardest worker.”

Big Red coach Ben DeLuca said he doesn’t expect Dudley to match Ritchie’s offensive production, and Dudley said his primary concern is working cohesively with Lang and Lau.

“To be honest, when it comes to offense, it doesn’t matter how many goals I’m scoring,” Dudley said. “I’m more concerned about where we are as a unit – Roy Lang, David Lau and I, how we’re doing in terms of goal production and how we’re doing in terms of goals given up, what plays are we making. I’m accustomed to the speed of the game, and I know how to play at the Division I level. From here on out, it’s going to come down to watching a lot of film and becoming a student of the game again and being a leader for the offense.”

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Albany's Marr "disappointed" by lack of interest from Maryland

When Maryland unceremoniously parted ways with Dave Cottle after the team’s surprising loss to Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals, several names were thrown onto the short list of candidates to fill the vacancy.

One of those names was Albany coach Scott Marr, who served as assistant coach and offensive coordinator under former Terps coach Dick Edell for six seasons.

But Marr was never contacted by Maryland’s search committee, which eventually offered the job to Harvard coach John Tillman.

Marr said the lack of an inquiry puzzled him.

“Surprised or disappointed? I guess a little bit of both,” Marr said Tuesday. “… I had been in contact with a pretty good number of alumni for quite a bit. I was certainly disappointed. We really enjoyed our time at Maryland. I was certainly anticipating or hoping to get an opportunity to at least talk with somebody down there, but it is what it is. John will do a great job. He’s a good friend of mine, he’s a great coach, and he’s been given an opportunity. Maybe I’ll get a chance at some other time down the road, but we’re also very happy here at Albany and we’re excited about who we’ve brought in and the future of our program right now.”

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Categories: Maryland

Emotional burden doesn't weigh down Virginia

Despite being a perennial favorite to capture the NCAA championship, Virginia has fallen short of that objective in each of the last four seasons.

There’s a theory that the Cavaliers’ inability to reach the NCAA Tournament final in the last two years can be linked to the emotional weight of enduring the deaths of former midfielder Will Barrow in 2008, media relations assistant Michael Colley in 2009 and women’s lacrosse player Yeardley Love in May.

Virginia coach Dom Starsia conceded that the tragedies have taken a toll on the program.

“Throughout these past few years, I have found myself startled by how emotional college boys can be and how vulnerable they can seem at times,” Starsia said Wednesday. “And at the same time, I’m stunned at how resilient they can be. They can bounce back and kind of get back to work. If you asked me, ‘How do you get over the loss to Duke in the playoffs last year and what does that do to you?’ my answer would be, it’s a part of who we are. [The tragedies are] part of the fabric of who we are. We have to factor it in and move forward, and all of these things that have happened to us is the same. It’s part of who we are as people and ultimately as athletes. To be honest with you, I would have a concern about how much gas is left in the emotional tank so to speak. … I think there is some truth to the question, ‘Does this team have the emotional wherewithal to kind of persevere through this?’ All I can tell you is we’re doing the best we can. We lean on each other, we talk to each other, I think we find a little respite out on the practice field every day. So we take advantage of that.”

With seven of 10 starters returning from last year’s squad that went 16-2 and fell to Duke in the NCAA Tournament semifinals, the Cavaliers are once again one of the teams tabbed to take home the title. Those are lofty expectations, but they come with the territory, Starsia said.

“I think we all understand the expectations that come along with a program like the University of Virginia,” he said. “We’ve created this thing and probably only have ourselves to blame. In the end, it’s who we want to be. We want people to have high expectations for our program, and the issue is – in a more philosophical sense – for a lot of the public, there’s only a very, very narrow window where we are allowed to define a successful season, and it really is winning the last game. And that’s just not going to happen all of the time. I feel like my job is to sort of deflect that away from the players as best I can. There have to be other parts of this journey that are valuable, and if we happen to not to win, we still have to define ourselves as being successful. So I never talk about the national championship, I never talk about the end of the season. At the same time, we want to start every September thinking that we have a chance to be playing on that last weekend, and that’s how we sort of prepare ourselves. We can sort of apply that to everything that we do.”

Other notes:

*A defense that finished the regular season ranked sixth in Division I in average goals per game (8.2) was depleted by graduation. To replace defensemen Ken Clausen and Ryan Nizolek, junior Chris Clements is moving from the midfield and freshman Scott McWilliams, an Under Armour All American, is competing with sophomore Harry Prevas for the third starter’s spot. Sophomore Blake Riley and freshman Bobby Hill could get the brunt of the playing time at short-stick defensive midfield with two-way midfielders Rhamel Bratton, Chris LaPierre and Colin Briggs also contributing. “We’re going to be younger and newer back there,” Starsia acknowledged. “… We’ve got a four-year senior in the goal [in Adam Ghitelman], so we can draw some comfort from that. And programs like ours always graduate good kids. The question is, how do you pick up the pieces? For us, that’s the most obvious question for anyone looking at our team.”

*With that in mind, the Cavaliers will lean on the offense to carry the load at the beginning of the season. All three starting attackmen are back, and seniors Shamel and Rhamel Bratton could be paired with senior John Haldy on the first midfield. “We feel like we’re experienced and athletic at the offensive end and we may have to score some more goals early on in the season while a young, new defense kind of gets their defense on the ground,” Starsia said.

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February 2, 2011

Loyola picks up North Carolina transfer

Loyola is focused on the upcoming season, but the program got a hint of what’s in store for the future with the news that Chris Layne will join the program for the 2012 season, the school announced Wednesday.

Layne, a midfielder, played his first two years for North Carolina, totaling six goals, two assists and 18 groundballs for the Tar Heels. Layne, who must sit out this year, will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Layne’s older brother Steve was a stellar starting defenseman for the Greyhounds between 2007 and 2010. In a written statement, Loyola coach Charley Toomey remarked, “We’re happy to welcome the Layne family back to the program.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 2:24 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Loyola

Albany giving ball to pair of freshmen attackmen

The youth movement has begun at Albany.

Freshmen Miles and Ty Thompson, who are cousins, are slated to open the season as starting attackmen. The Thompson cousins will be paired with junior Joe Resetarits, who is returning from a broken foot that allowed him to play in just five games last spring.

Great Danes coach Scott Marr said promoting the Thompson cousins to starters became apparent after watching them play in the fall.

“They kind of have elevated everybody else’s play,” Marr said Tuesday. “Ty and Miles’ stick skills and creativity are kind of beyond their years. It’s just fun to watch them play and how smooth they are. In everything that we do in our settled offense and transition, they’re so crafty and they’re so good at making that extra pass and finding the open man. They’re making everyone better, and it’s similar to what Frank [Resetarits] and Merrick [Thomson] did for us a couple years ago where a lot of attention will be paid to try to stop Miles and Ty from scoring, but they’ll have opportunities to put the ball in the net as well. So their creativity is just great and their skills are unbelievable.”

Their presence allows Marr to move Brian Caufield and Derek Kreuzer from attack to midfield.

“The benefit is that it allows us to put Bryan and Derek up at the midfield, and now you’re talking about Bryan or Derek possibly playing against a short stick, which lends to a lot of things for us offensively,” Marr said.

Other notes:

*Goalkeeper John Carroll started all 16 games last season, turning back 51.4 percent of the shots he faced. But the junior has yet to cement his grip on the starting role because of the play of freshman Edmund Cathers. “John comes in with the experience of playing the last two years, and John has been really, really good for us at times,” Marr said. “And then he’s been okay at times. He’s been giving us more of what we’ve been looking for out of John since we got back in September. His consistency at clearing the ball has gotten better. Those are the things we’re looking for from John.”

*Because of the uncertainty in the cage, Marr said he’s looking for the offense to carry the team until the defense finds its rhythm. “We want to get back to scoring in double digits,” he said. “The last two years, it’s been reverse. We’ve been giving up double digits and only scoring in the single digits. So we certainly want to reverse that trend. But we certainly want to try to do a better job of possessing the ball and giving the defense a little bit more of a break this year.”

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Denver desperate for defense to develop

Denver’s continued reign as Eastern College Athletic Conference champion will likely depend on the development of a young defense.

The Pioneers bid farewell to three starting defensemen in Dillon Roy, Nick Gradinger and Payton Sanders and goalkeeper Peter Lowell. Senior Jeff Brown and junior Brendan DeBlois are leading candidates to start, and seniors Jamie McDonald and Steve Simonetti, freshman Harley Brown and John Zurlo and sophomore Kyle Hercher are competing for the third starting role.

“It’s really interesting, and that’s certainly going to be the area where we’re going to get tested,” coach Bill Tierney said Tuesday. “We’ll find out how we hold up there because if we can hold up there, then we feel like we’re much improved at every other position.”

Tierney said freshman Jamie Faus is slightly ahead of junior Troy Orzech in the race to succeed Lowell in the net.

“Troy has a little bit more college experience. Jamie just has that thing that coaches talk about, the intangible that just makes you feel good when he’s in there,” Tierney said. “But I’ll tell you, Troy is right there with him as far as being a stopper. Jamie is a little more savvy with the ball, but we feel good about either one of them.”

Other notes:

*An offense that averaged 11.1 goals per game last season adds Eric Law, a sophomore who posted seven goals and two assists for Salisbury. Law, a Colorado native, is making the move from attack to midfield. “He’s going to be probably on our second midfield,” Tierney said. “He’s got great vision, he can invert because he’s been an attackman, he can feed, he can shoot it. Just a great young man who is such a welcome addition for us.”

*Because Denver won the inaugural ECAC Tournament, the Pioneers will serve as hosts for this spring’s conference tournament. If it could finish in the top four to qualify for the tournament, Denver would seem to have a unique home-field advantage. But Tierney pointed out that when he coached at Princeton, the Tigers failed to reach the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals in the three years they hosted that round. “So I’m not assuming anything,” Tierney said. “We are hosting the conference tournament – whether we’re in it or not. If we get in it, then I think certainly in the minds of the teams hat have to come out here, it’s a situation that could be an advantage for us. We’re playing at our home stadium. … I think Denver is a phenomenal place to host any kind of lacrosse event, and now with the ECAC Tournament coming here, it’s another exciting event to chalk up and add to the growth of college lacrosse and all lacrosse out here.”

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Excitement surrounds Bryant

There’s a lot of anticipation bubbling under the surface at Bryant.

The Bulldogs have joined Mount St. Mary’s, Robert Morris, Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart and Wagner to create the Northeast Conference. Although there is no automatic qualifier this season, Bryant is eligible for an at-large bid for the first time since the school joined Division I two years ago.

“It changes everything,” coach Mike Pressler said Tuesday of competing for a coveted spot in the tournament. “For the last two years we knew going in that our last day was our last day – regardless of how well we did. Whenever the last game was, our season was over. I think the excitement of playing Division I lacrosse against a high level of competition carried us through that two-year period, but now in year three, to have that carrot at the end of the line is very, very motivating for our coaches, for our players, for our university. To play for something at the end – and whether we get there or not, who knows – that is very, very invigorating.”

Pressler said he’s similarly enthusiastic about the team, which graduated just one starter from last year’s squad that went 12-5. Pressler agreed that this is his most talented group since he took over the program five years ago, but the most significant component is that the talent is spread throughout the roster.

“Right now, we have some outstanding players and we have them in numbers,” Pressler said. “That’s something we haven’t had. In the past two years, we couldn’t suffer an injury. We couldn’t suffer an illness. There was basically no depth after the starting 10. That is not the case anymore.”

Other notes:

*As mentioned before, the Bulldogs have to replace just one starter, but that starter, defenseman Mike Murnane, led the team in both groundballs (70) and caused turnovers (42) last season. Pressler is hopeful that sophomore Mason Poli can succed Murnane and join starters Joe Rauchut and Tim Clinton. “He’s very similar to Matt Murnane,” Pressler said of Poli. “Just great skills off the ground, intercepting passes, getting up the field, a very physical player. We’re counting on Mason to fill that void.”

*Pressler guided the U.S. men’s national team to a victory over Canada in the Federation of International Lacrosse world championship in July. How would capping that run with an NCAA title sound? “We’d just like to get to the tournament first,” Pressler said. “If we could pull that off in 2011, that would be quite an accomplishment. On the other hand, it’s going to be very, very difficult to get there. We’ve got a new league, it’s our third year of Division I, and we’re taking baby steps as we go. We were 10-5 in our first year, 12-5 last year. We’re pleased with our record, but we think it can be better. We’ve just got to keep that momentum going.”

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Stony Brook bracing for turn in national spotlight

One goal from potentially upsetting top-seeded Virginia in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals last May, Stony Brook set a school record with 13 wins and won its first America East Tournament crown since 2002.

The Seawolves are getting a lot of publicity nationwide and will likely become a prominent target on opponents’ schedules.

“It’s almost to the point where we’ve created a monster with all this attention,” coach Rick Sowell said Tuesday. “But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’d much rather have it this way than the other way where they’re not talking about you or where you don’t feel like you have a good team. I guess we relish, in some respects, the opportunity to be in the limelight, but I think we also understand that last year was last year and this year is obviously a different year.”

Outside of the conference schedule, Stony Brook faces three tournament teams in Virginia, Cornell and Delaware and two rising programs in Bryant and Towson. So the road is tougher, but Sowell said the rewards are greater.

“The challenge may be more difficult, but we feel like we certainly have some things that make you excited about facing this challenge,” he said. “Like most teams, we’re going to have to stay healthy, but the one thing going for us is, we had a lot of success going for us last year, and we have a lot of that success coming back. We have some experience in a lot of areas that hopefully we can take advantage of. But there are a lot of good teams out there and we’re just trying to be one of them.”

Other notes:

*While the Seawolves return every offensive starter, they graduated defensemen Chris Gignilliat and Michael Sopko, long-stick midfielder Steven Waldeck and goalkeeper Charlie Paar. Sowell said Kyle Moeller, a junior transfer from Manhattan, will fill Gignilliat’s role of marking opponents’ top playmaker, while senior Bryan Reinert and junior Savaughn Greene are the leading candidates to join Moeller as starters. Moeller will play Chris Gignilliat’s. Freshman Jak Wawrzyniak, an England native who marked former Johns Hopkins midfielder Paul Rabil at the Federation of International Lacrosse world championships in July, will also be a part of the rotation. “I think we have a big upside,” Sowell said. “I’m choosing my words carefully now because we feel pretty good about what we’re doing down on that end. … We’re trying to establish a new identity down in that end, and so far, we’re excited.”

*Stony Brook has a little bit of a Baltimore flavor with the addition of junior midfielder Adam Dahms, a transfer from CCBC-Essex who registered 46 goals and 15 assists last spring. Sowell said Dahms is competing with junior Russ Bonanno and converted attackmen Graham Adams and Matt Bellando for a role on the second midfield. “He’s battling it out,” Sowell said. “He’s trying to adjust. For freshmen and even for juco transfers, it’s not easy. It might be a little easier than for a freshman transferring in because you’re a little older, but he’s adjusting to what it takes to play at this level. We like his potential, but right now, he’s still learning and trying to figure it out.”

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Coaching change doesn't alter Cornell's aspirations

When Jeff Tambroni suddenly left Cornell for Penn State on June 17, it took the Big Red just one day to promote Ben DeLuca from defensive coordinator to head coach. And just as quickly, DeLuca said the high standards set by predecessors like Tambroni, Dave Pietramala and Richie Moran won’t change.

“I suppose you could look at it as pressure,” DeLuca said Tuesday. “I don’t really look at it as pressure. I think it’s a fantastic challenge and a fantastic goal. I’m proud to be mentioned with those guys, Hall of Fame-caliber coaches. … I look at it as being my opportunity to try an put my stamp on this program and lead our guys and use the lessons that I’ve learned from the guys that have come before me.”

Cornell has advanced to seven consecutive NCAA Tournaments and three of the last Final Fours, and the return of eight starters, including first-team All-American junior attackman Rob Pannell, has heightened expectations around the Ithaca campus.

But the last two coaches have had so-so debuts. Pietramala, who succeeded Moran, went 6-7 in 1998, and Tambroni, who followed Pietramala, went 7-6 in 2001.

DeLuca understands that he will be compared to Tambroni, but he said he can’t afford to be distracted by that.

“As a head coach and as a leader of this program, I’m really just focusing on what we need to do as a team,” DeLuca said. “I’m not thinking about the past, what we did last year or the year prior to that or three years from now or 10 years from now. I’m thinking about what we need to do today and tomorrow in order to maximize our potential as a team. That’s kind of the way I look at it. I’m not thinking about what Coach did in the past.”

Other notes:

*Tasked with replacing attackman Ryan Hurley who registered 47 goals and 13 assists last season, the Big Red are set with Pannell, but DeLuca said the other two starting attackmen positions are open. That’s somewhat surprising considering sophomore Steve Mock posted 21 goals and two assists last spring. “His spot is not really solidified,” DeLuca said, adding that junior Scott Austin, sophomore Matt Taylor and freshman Cody Bremner are also competing for playing time. “I feel comfortable in saying that Robert has solidified his spot there, but I think everything else is wide open. Steve is probably the one guy who returns the most amount of experience and was firing on all cylinders towards the end of the tournament last year. … He’s done a great job for us this fall, but I think it’s been wide open. So really, there’s a good competition for those two spots to play alongside Robert.”

*The defense welcomes back all four starters in defensemen Max Feely, Jason Noble and Mike Bronzino and goalie A.J. Fiore. Graduating long-stick midfielder Pierce Derkac hurts, but DeLuca is optimistic that junior Peter Mumford, a transfer from Onondaga Community College (NY), can step in. “I’m excited about what we have defensively,” DeLuca said. “I think we’re youthful but experienced. I think there’s a lot of possibilities. We’re hopeful that we’re going to be a versatile and athletic defense and change up the things we do based on what we see and what we need to do so that we can frustrate some offenses.”

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Notre Dame's next step: "Win the thing"

After turning a 7-6 regular season into a historic run to the NCAA Tournament final and falling to Duke in overtime, what can Notre Dame do for an encore?

“Win the thing,” coach Kevin Corrigan said Tuesday with a chuckle. “That’s a pretty simple answer.”

That being said, the Fighting Irish are doing their best to withstand the glare of the national spotlight. It’s business as usual in South Bend, Ind., with the players and coaches turning their attention to themselves.

“I’d like to think that the most significant conversations that the guys on our team have are the internal ones, and those are very much focused on how they’ve always been – on us getting better every day and preparing ourselves to do what we need to do,” Corrigan said . “As long as they stay focused on what we need to do and the day-to-day and what we’re trying to achieve on a daily basis, we’re not a team that looks ahead. We don’t talk about goals, we don’t talk about all that stuff.”

Thusly, Corrigan said offseason workouts, practices and the team’s approach hasn’t really changed.

“I think we’ve done  a really good job of staying focused and working hard through the preseason and maybe that’s partly a result of last year’s experience,” he said. “Guys are excited and driven to have success and become the team they think we can become. That’s a sum of everything, but for our seniors, they’ve had quite a ride. [In 2008, the team’s record was] 13-2 and you win a game in the tournament and battle Syracuse in the quarters, 15-0 and lose in the first round [in 2009], and then 7-6 and go to the finals and lose in overtime. They’ve seen a lot and I think all of those experienced certainly have some bearing on what we do and how the guys act every day. But so far at least, the result is that the guys have been very focused.”

Other notes:

*Notre Dame’s tempo-dictating defense boasts two starters in senior Kevin Ridgway and junior Kevin Randall and gets stronger with the return of senior Sam Barnes and junior Jake Brems who return from respective hamstring and knee injuries that sidelined them last season. But the key will be the play of sophomore goalkeeper John Kemp, who must succeed Scott Rodgers, the Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA Tournament who surrendered just 22 goals and made 53 saves in four tournament games. “I’m very confident in him,” Corrigan said of Kemp, whose older brother Joey was Division I’s Goalie of the Year for the Fighting Irish in 2008. “I think he’s an outstanding goalie. I think mentally, he’s got the makeup that it takes to be a goalie, to be able to handle the rigors of a season. Skill-wise, he’s very good. He’s got poise and confidence, and he understands what’s expected of him. The only thing he’s lacking is experience at the college level, but he got to play a few games last year when Scott got hurt. He’s gotten to play against [Johns] Hopkins and the U.S. national team this fall. So I don’t think he’s coming in totally unprepared. Very confident in what we have in the cage.”

*The graduation of attackman Neal Hicks (23 goals and 14 assists) and midfielder Grant Krebs (24, 4) could be offset by the transfer of Edison Parzanese. The fifth-year senior attackman led Holy Cross in points (35) and assists (19) last spring and is currently among the top six attackmen. “With Edison, it’s easier because he’s been through it – both on the field and off,” Corrigan said of Parzanese’s transition. “He’s a college graduate from Holy Cross. He’s not a transfer. He’s a kid who graduated and is playing his last year while he’s in graduate school here. So you get a kid with a maturity and a poise that’s different than most newcomers to your program. So all of that combined, I don’t think it’s going to be hard. Edison has been kind of slowly figuring it out through the fall and preseason here, and I feel good about where he is right now.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)

February 1, 2011

Staying healthy key for UMass

Last season was a disappointing one for Massachusetts, which went 8-6 and failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the last four years. A contributing factor was injuries, and Minutemen coach Greg Cannella said avoiding the injury bug is important again this year.

“A lot of things have to go your way,” he said Monday. “This is a team that needs to have better leadership than the previous team from last year and also stay healthy. We’re not as deep as we’d like to be. So health is definitely critical to us.”

The most significant loss involved then-sophomore attackman Art Kell, who compiled 21 goals and 12 assists in eight starters before breaking his foot and missing the remainder of the season. But losing Kell had a ripple effect elsewhere.

“He was our leading scorer at the time, and other guys had to step up,” Cannella recalled. “A guy like [sophomore attackman] Will Manny did, [graduated midfielder] Bobby Hayes did, and [junior midfielder] Anthony Biscardi did, but it moved some things around for us. Moving Anthony Biscardi down to attack really hurt our midfield and our ability to dodge out of the midfield. That was probably the biggest difference.”

Kell’s return means Biscardi can return to the midfield.

Other notes:

*Graduating Hayes (20 goals and 14 assists) and midfielder Christian Hain (9, 7) sapped the Minutemen of depth, but the team will sorely miss the presence of defenseman Diogo Godoi. The third-team All American collected 24 groundballs and 22 caused turnovers and harrassed opponents’ top playmakers. “That’s a tough guy to replace, but between [junior Tom] Celetani and [junior Greg] Anderson who’s a Maryland guy and Jake Smith who’s a sophomore, Travis Tripucka who’s a senior, and three good poles in [senior] Casey Rahn, [sophomore] Brett Tobin, [sophomore] Ryan Hollenbaugh, they’ve all done well,” Cannella said. “[Sophomore] Bobby Tyler, [senior] Stephen Zorkers, [senior] Mael Walkowiak, those guys will take the short-stick roles along with [junior] Greg Rushing who will split duties between facing off and defensive midfield. Last year, going into the season, they had more critical mass on that side, and I think we still do. So hopefully, that group can improve. I thought we underachieved last year.”

*Matthew Palasek transferred to UMass from Johns Hopkins in the offseason, but the sophomore attackman/midfielder has been sidelined by a back injury. Cannella said it’s difficult to assess Palasek’s transition because of his limited time in the offense. “We can’t put him into the system if he doesn’t practice,” Cannella said. “So hopefully, the weather gets a little bit better here and his back starts to feel better. He has potential. He’s a catch-and-shoot guy, a finisher. There’s some potential there and hopefully, he can find a role for us on this team and be a contributor.”

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Harvard's Wojcik intent on following his own path

Chris Wojcik understands that how he molds Harvard over the next several years and the program’s standing in the Ivy League and the rest of the college lacrosse landscape will be compared to his predecessor’s results with the Crimson.

And that’s fine as long as fans and observers understand that Wojcik is intent on meeting his goals, not those of his predecessor, John Tillman.

“The pressure that I put on myself is the pressure that I’m saddled with,” Wojcik said Monday. “I don’t know the answer to that question other than I certainly have high expectations from myself and for this team and for this program. It certainly doesn’t come from my predecessor. It comes from me wanting to be the best I can be and the team and myself pushing each other to be the best that we can be.”

Named the Harvard coach on July 12 after Tillman had departed for Maryland, Wojcik seems to be the perfect candidate as he played both soccer and lacrosse for the Crimson and was an assistant coach there for five years before serving a two-year stint as the assistant head coach at Penn.

“I think the transition, while it hasn’t been seamless, has gone as well as it could,” Wojcik said. “Having been a player, an alum, an assistant coach, and now back as the head coach, it certainly helps. There’s certainly a steep learning curve when it’s your first time as a head coach, but knowing the campus, knowing the admissions process and knowing what it’s like to be in the shoes of a student-athlete at Harvard has helped my transition.”

Other notes:

*After a spirited competition in the fall, Wojcik said he is leaning towards starting sophomore Harry Krieger over junior Christian Coates in the net. Krieger, a Timonium native and St. Paul’s graduate, recorded a 10.75 goals-against average and a .495 save percentage in nine starts last spring, while Coates posted a 9.62 goals-against average and a .520 save percentage. “Both of them played a lot last year, and Christian’s improved,” Wojcik said. “We’re expecting him to play, and I would say it’s the two of those guys right now with Harry being the starter right now.”

*The return of three starting attackmen in senior Dean Gibbons (27 goals and 14 assists), junior Jeff Cohen (29, 8) and junior Kevin Vaughan (15, 8) and a starting midfielder in junior Terry White (13, 6) gives the Crimson a building block in the offense. “So we’ll be experienced on the offensive end,” Wojcik said. “In general, we have a number of guys that played key roles last year. … We certainly have, at every position on the field, guys that have played well and guys that have experience in the last few years. We have a number of freshmen that could make an impact, but at the same time, at every position, we have experience.”

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Filling holes on offense await Delaware

Not too many programs can survive the loss of 96 goals and 18 assists from just two players.

But that’s the reality facing Delaware, which must fill the void created by the graduation of attackman and Tewaaraton Award finalist Curtis Dickson (62 goals and 15 assists) and midfielder Martin Cahill (34, 3).

Coach Bob Shillinglaw conceded that replacing Dickson and Cahill is an arduous task.

“I think it’s definitely difficult to replace Curtis and Martin,” he said. “They scored a lot of points for us, both had terrific careers, both were All Americans. But hopefully, we’ve got guys that are ready to step in and step up as well. [Junior attackman] Grant Kaleikau has started for the last two years, and we’re expecting great things out of him this year. We’ve got in place of [attackman] Mark Steverson, [senior attackman] Anthony Ruiz actually started the last four or five games for us. So he kind of took over for Mark towards the end of the year and had great results. So we hope for him to kind of pick up the scoring. [Attackman] Sean Finnegan is stepping in, also. He’s a redshirt sophomore who has been with us for three years. We’ve got a strong midfield unit returning with [senior Kevin] Kaminski, who was on the 2007 Final Four group. We’re expecting good things from him, [senior] John Austin and [senior] Nick Elsmo. It’ll be more of a committee, I think, in terms of scoring. We’re hoping it’ll be pretty evenly spread out.”

Other notes:

*The Blue Hens were the beneficiaries of sophomore attackman Ryan Serville’s decision to transfer from Jacksonville to Delaware in the offseason. Serville posted 30 goals and 22 assists for the Dolphins last spring, but Shillinglaw said he’s not placing the burden of replacing Dickson on Serville. “Right now, we’re leaning more on the guys that have been with the program,” Shillinglaw said. “Ryan, he’s got some potential. Right now, he’s finding some adjustment and hopefully as the year goes on, he’ll be someone that’s going to add some strength to our offensive end. But at this point, it’s mostly Kaleikau, Ruiz, Finnegan and Eric Smith. Eric Smith [a junior midfielder who transferred from Ohio State] played at Boys’ Latin, and he’s looking pretty good so far this year.”

*Senior defenseman Tim Langmaid will likely miss the season opener against Detroit Mercy on Saturday due to a back injury, Shillinglaw said. “He’s got a back issue right now, but we’re working on it, and we’re hoping he’ll be back as soon as possible,” Shillinglaw said. Redshirt sophomore Connor Fitzgerald is expected to join seniors Pat Dowling and Matt Stefurak as starting defensemen.

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Pair of transfers could make Hofstra offense even more lethal

A new season usually entails bidding farewell to contributors who played significant roles in a program’s success. At Hofstra, a new season means welcoming players who could take the school to greater levels of prosperity.

The Pride added two prominent transfers in midfielders Steve Serling and Ian Braddish in the offseason, and their presence could further enhance an offense that finished the 2010 regular season ranked fifth in Division I in scoring (12.9 goals per game).

Serling, a fifth-year senior, led Lafayette last year in goals (37) and points (49) and has already inserted himself into the first midfield unit with juniors Brad Loizeaux and Kevin Ford.

“Steven has done a good job of weaving himself in,” coach Seth Tierney said Monday. “He is a wonderful person. He’s quiet, but he’s a leader on the field. He’s got great poise with the ball. He’s gotten unbelievably better throughout his time at Lafayatte. Coach [Terry] Mangan did a great job with him. Steven came in, and he started working hard from Day 1. And instead of asking the guys for respect, he just earned it. He worked harder than them or just as hard as they did, didn’t say anything, did what he was supposed to do, and was productive when the ball was in his stick, made the right plays. I think he’s been a great fit for us.”

Braddish played sparingly at North Carolina, scoring just one goal in five games last season. But the sophomore was an Under Armour All American who paced West Islip to a pair of New York State High School championships in 2007 and 2009.

“Right now, he’s on our second midfield, and if he continues to improve, then you might even see him take a couple of runs on our first midfield,” Tierney said of Braddish, who is lining up with sophomores Adrian Sorichetti and Drew Coholan. “He’s very athletic, he is adjusting to our style of offense and playing with our guys., but he has really shown some great improvement over the last couple of weeks.”

Other notes:

*Adding Serling and Braddish to an offense that already includes three starting attackmen in seniors Jamie Lincoln (33 goals and 20 assists), Jay Card (31, 22) and Stephen Bentz (29, 12), Loizeaux (19, 11), Ford (15, 6) and Sorichetti (9, 6) gives Hofstra an experienced unit that might be in mid-season stride when Colgate visits on Feb. 15 in the season opener. “I don’t remember – and it doesn’t happen very often – where you get three junior attackmen and then they come back and they’re three senior attackmen,” Tierney said. “It doesn’t happen very often that way. So we’ve got to take advantage of the experience that those three guys have. And couple that with the experience of the guys coming back in the midfield, infusing a couple of transfers, and hopefully, we can find the right chemistry together and move forward.”

*The Pride qualified for its third consecutive NCAA Tournament and fourth in its last five tourneys, but not without a little grumbling. Hofstra didn’t advance to the four-team Colonial Athletic Association Tournament because of losses to Penn State, Drexel and Massachusetts, and the season ended with two losses in the team’s last four contests. Tierney said the players and coaches have not forgotten the agony of having their fate decided by the NCAA selection committee. “We’re excited, but along those same lines, we weren’t thrilled with the way last year ended,” he said. “So there is a little bit of an anger factor going on right now.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)

Defense to carry Princeton

With the offense dealing with upheaval (more on that later), Princeton is expected to lean on its defense when the Tigers open the season with a trip to Hofstra on Feb. 26.

Senior Long Ellis (26 groundballs and 22 caused turnovers) and junior Chad Wiedmaier (12, 12) return as starting defenseman, and junior Jonathan Meyers (25, 11) has been tabbed to replace Jeremy Hirsch who graduated.

A healthy Wiedmaier, who was out until mid-season because of knee surgery last year, is key, coach Chris Bates said.

“Chad’s as good of a cover guy as there is, and having him healthy at the beginning of the year will certainly be helpful,” Bates said Monday. “Long and Jonathan Meyers should be our starting close defense. Jonathan’s gotten some good minutes over the course of the last year. So hopefully, that experience  will pay off. And John Cunningham [54, 13] is a junior captain at long pole, so we feel like that’s a pretty sound group.”

The unit will be as good as junior goalkeeper Tyler Fiorito plays. The Phoenix native and McDonogh graduate registered an 8.58 goals-against average and a .569 save percentage, but Princeton surrendered 10 or more goals in seven of 16 contests.

“Starting with Tyler in the goal, that’s a luxury for us, and I think he’s ready to take the next step,” Bates said. “I don’t think Tyler was happy with how he started last season, and I think he’s primed and ready to hit the ground running. Saving the ball and clearing the ball, I think he’s made big improvements. I just think as an overall leader and as a guy who’s matured, I think that’s critical for us. There’s a little more of a sense of urgency when you’re a junior. There were great expectations for him and for that class coming in, and I think they’re starting to realize that the sands in the hourglass are dwindling.”

Other notes:

*The Tigers will miss midfielder Mike Chanenchuk, who set a freshman record with 28 goals last season and was named a unanimous Rookie of the Year in the Ivy League. Chanenchuk withdrew from school shortly after undergoing surgery to repair a broken collarbone sustained in a fall game against Georgetown. “You have to account for almost 30 goals that were scored last year,” Bates said. “He was somebody who scored big goals in big moments, and there’s something to that. But I think there are guys ready to step up, and I think they’re very capable of [doing] that. We’ve moved beyond that just because we’ve had to. I know it’s a pertinent question, but for us, it’s like an injury. You have to react to it. So yeah, we have to account for that loss in goals. I don’t think there’s one guy that’s going to do that. We don’t say, ‘The void is going to be filled with one specific player.’ But I think there are some guys ready to take the next step. I’d be surprised if they didn’t.”

*While Princeton tries to fill holes in the midfield, Bates said the offense will run through senior attackmen Jack and Chris McBride, who are cousins. “Jack and Chris McBride are the cornerstones,” Bates said of the duo, who combined for 51 goals and 24 assists last season. “That’s a given. I think [sophomore attackman] Luke Armour and [junior attackman] Cliff Larkin had really fine falls, and I think both of them could play. So it doesn’t necessarily need to be a middie that takes that position. But I think [senior midfielder] Tyler Moni, being more of a two-way guy, I think he’s primed. He’s had a really good senior fall and preseason. [Sophomore midfielder] Jeff Froccaro is ready to take the next step, we hope. Last year, he played well having Feb. 1 as his first practice after coming off of knee surgery. So he’s in better shape with a year under his belt. I think [junior attackman] Michael Grossman, [sophomore midfielder] Chris White, [junior midfielder] Mark Feild, [sophomore midfielder] Tucker Shanley are four guys that will see more minutes. I think the freshman, Tom Schreiber, will play. I don’t think there’s any doubt that he’ll play, and he’ll play early.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)

Severna Park's Gvozden gets call for Hofstra

Any mystery to Hofstra’s goalkeeping situation ended in the fall when coach Seth Tierney named Andrew Gvozden the starter for the upcoming season. But as far as the junior from Severna Park is concerned, he’s practicing as if his status is still undetermined.

“Honestly, it’s something that I really haven’t thought too much about because if I start thinking about it, it’s going to take away from me playing better,” Gvozden, a Millersville native, said Monday. “So to me, it’s still a competition, and that could change any day, any minute. So as long as I have this mindset that there’s still a chance I might not be the starter, I’m hoping to play harder and work harder to compete with the other goalies.”

Gvozden and sophomore Rob Bellairs each made seven starts last season. Gvozden had the superior save percentage (.522 to Bellairs’ .398), but the higher goals-against average (9.30 to Bellairs’ 8.81).

The rotation played havoc on the goalies’ abilities to develop a rhythm and cohesion with their defensive teammates.

“It’s always tough if you’re splitting time and going back and forth,” Gvozden said. “It’s tough on you, and the defense is also going back and forth. It was a tough year. We had a good team, but we didn’t come together. We’re looking to rebound from that, and I know that I’ve learned a lot from last year – not only as a goalie, but also how to deal with the stress of competition. I still feel like I’m in a competition, but I feel comfortable coming into the season and giving everything that I have. I feel comfortable that I’m ready to come forward and prove myself as a player.”

Like his goalkeepers, Tierney was similarly unsettled by platooning the duo in the cage.

“I’m trying to get away from what we did,” he said. “I wasn’t comfortable with what we did last year. We named Andrew Gvozden the starter earlier this year. Twofold on that situation, we thought Andrew would relax a little bit and be able to play, and we we also thought it would set a little fire under Rob Bellairs. But Andrew, we believe he earned it in the first-round game against Maryland. We thought that he played really well and kept us in for a while there with some of his acrobatic saves. And he didn’t do anything to hurt himself in the fall. So we named him the starter. So there’s no gray area in this situation. Last year, it was a close call, and I just wanted to see someone take it. But it really didn’t happen for a while there. We’re fortunate that we’ve got two really good goalies.”

Gvozden said he understands that he will be scrutinized by fans and observers as the Pride have been a perennial favorite to be the dark-horse candidate to make the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four. Gvozden insisted that the pressure from outsiders won’t compare to the expectations he will set for himself.

“When people have faith in you, it does give you a sense of comfort, that they expect you to play well and that they’ve put their faith in you. But at the same time, you have to go and show that you deserve that faith,” he said. “So I hope to prove the coaches right. My teammates are supporters either way, but I want to help them out, too. So I can prove everybody right, that’s going to give me the most satisfaction.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
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Faceoff is The Baltimore Sun's blog devoted to college and high school lacrosse. Faceoff contributors include Sun reporters Edward Lee, Mike Preston and Katherine Dunn.

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