baltimoresun.com

« June 2011 | Main | August 2011 »

July 15, 2011

ESPN’s Kessenich eyes a pair of area recruits from “non hot-bed” spots

In the second of two reports for Inside Lacrosse, ESPN analyst Quint Kessenich highlighted seven recruits who participated in the Warrior 40 at Harvard University from what he described as areas not traditionally known as fertile soil for lacrosse.

Kessenich, a contributor to The Sun, singled out Johns Hopkins recruit and goalkeeper Ahmed Iftikhar, who just wrapped up his junior season at Detroit Country Day School. According to Inside Lacrosse, the 5-foot-9 and 160-pound Iftikhar considered Penn, Yale and Harvard before agreeing to join the Blue Jays. This is what Kessenich wrote of Iftikhar:

“Iftikhar plays with one of the shortest shafts I’ve ever seen,” Kessenich said. “But he loves the ‘stubby’ for [its] light weight and ball-stopping benefits. He is technically sound. I like his stance and explosion to shots. He appeared better high than low in the limited time I was able to evaluate him. He led Detroit Country Day to a Division 2 state title and carries a 3.6 GPA in honors and AP courses. He was one of five US Lacrosse All-Americans playing in the Warrior 40. When the lights came on in practice and the game, Iftikhar delivered.”

Maryland recruit and midfielder Zack Fixen also impressed Kessenich. Fixen, who plays for Palos Verdes in California, was named a U.S. Lacrosse All American for the second consecutive year and the Offensive Player of the Year in the Bay League. Here is Kessenich’s summation of Fixen:

“Fixen won the obstacle course during the halftime skills competition with a time of 10.19 seconds, which in itself puts him on the map as an athlete,” Kessenich wrote. “He runs extremely well, played tough and with exceptional tempo and energy. His shooting skills against the elite players needs refinement, but that [comes] with time, experience and practice. So many of these young midfielders could run past their man, but very few could bury the rock on the run. Fixen’s athletic mold fits right into the ACC, whether he will be a first line midfielder or defensive midfielder will be answered with time.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland
        

July 13, 2011

Several area recruits catch attention of ESPN's Kessenich

Forty underclassmen from around the country took part in the Warrior 40 at Harvard University last week, and ESPN analyst Quint Kessenich singled out several players who have verbally committed to some area programs.

In the first of two reports for Inside Lacrosse, Kessenich, a contributor to The Sun, selected Navy recruit and midfielder Danny Simonetti as the second player who impressed him. Although a little undersized at 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds, Simonetti, who will graduate next spring, is a two-way player who should fit in with the Midshipmen’s work ethic. “Simonetti is a do-it-all type midfielder who can get ground balls, play defense, carry the pill in transition and possesses flawless stick with both hands,” Kessenich wrote. “He scored 17 goals and added 19 assists for Cold Spring Harbor [in New York] last spring. He will be the ideal complimentary midfielder on a well balanced line.”

Defenseman and Boys’ Latin graduate Mac Pons, who committed to Maryland, was named the Defensive Most Valuable Player even though he just completed his sophomore year. “He reminds me of current Denver Outlaw [and former Johns Hopkins defenseman] Matt Bocklet,” Kessenich wrote. “Both defenders are flawless off the ground, can match feet and lockdown dodgers from behind or up top and run the field in transition, carrying the ball with confidence. Having seen Pons play quite a bit as an underclassman, I’ve noticed a much more physical approach to his holds down at GLE. His off-ball decision making and communication skills have always been advanced.”

Johns Hopkins should be excited about long-stick midfielder Nick Fields, who will be a junior next season, according to Kessenich. “He is raw, aggressive, athletic, fast and improving every time he steps onto the field,” Kessenich wrote. “His ability to flank the ball carrier and pepper his arms and hands with checks makes dodging against him treacherous. His feet are his best skill. Time and [repetition] will refine his stick skills, allowing him to be more of a weapon in transition with the ball in his stick.”

Kessenich concluded the report by highlighting Loyola recruit and defenseman Justin Verratti. Kessenich said the future senior’s physical style of play could benefit him on the collegiate level. "The left-hander has a nasty and vicious hold and once he was able to stop a dodger’s momentum, it got ugly … in a good way for him,” Kessenich wrote. “He has a strong wrap check and was able to outmuscle all of the [attackmen] at the Warrior 40. Verratti sat out the spring 2011 season after transferring schools for academic reasons, and showed no signs of rust. He is an excellent recruit for Charley Toomey and the Loyola program.”

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

July 12, 2011

Maryland gets a few representatives on national Under 19 team

After four days of tryouts at UMBC between July 7-10, US Lacrosse announced the 23-man roster that will seek to capture the 2012 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) U19 Men’s World Championships in Turku, Finland.

The state has a few representatives on the team. They include defenseman Robert Enright, an incoming freshman at Johns Hopkins; midfielder Charles Raffa, an incoming freshman at Maryland; and midfielder Robert Zoppo, a soon-to-be sophomore at Towson.

Midfielder Stephen Kelly, who recently wrapped up his sophomore year at Calvert Hall, was selected to the U19 team. Midfielder Ryan Tucker, a Gilman graduate who will play for 2011 national champion Virginia, was also chosen.

Speaking of the Cavaliers, they tied Harvard with three players on the team: Tucker and defensemen Gregory Danseglio and Tanner Ottenbreit. The Crimson are represented by attackman Daniel Eipp, midfielder Sean Mahon and defenseman Stephen Jahelka.

Duke was the only other Division I program with multiple representatives, adding attackman Kyle Keenan and goalkeeper Kyle Turri to the squad.

The United States won the title in 2008, routing Canada, 19-12, in the final in Coquitlam, British Columbia.

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

July 11, 2011

Michigan joins Loyola, Denver in ECAC

Life in the Eastern College Athletic Conference appeared to get more difficult with the news last week that Michigan has joined the league.

To be fair, this is the first year of Division I lacrosse for the Wolverines, and they have to deal with the likes of two-time ECAC champion and 2011 national semifinalist Denver, 2008 league titlist Loyola, and 2011 ECAC tournament finalist Fairfield.

Then again, Michigan had captured three of the last four Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association national championships and gone 241-44 in the 14 years that coach John Paul has coached the team. And the school carries the kind of Division I punch to become a major player on the recruiting scene sooner rather than later.

The Wolverines will compete next year as an affiliate member and will be eligible for the conference tournament in 2013.

The league is now composed of eight teams: Loyola and Hobart (both joined in 2005), Fairfield (2006), Air Force, Bellarmine, Denver and Ohio State (2010) and Michigan.

Perhaps the most intriguing result of the addition is that it adds more fire to the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry. Those contests should be backyard brawls for both sides.

Here are some quotes from the ECAC release on the addition of Michigan:

ECAC commissioner Rudy Keeling: “Michigan will be an exceptional addition to the ECAC lacrosse league. After having been one of the strongest club teams in the country, Michigan is now committed to making its varsity men’s lacrosse team one of the best in the nation. The ECAC is excited to welcome the institution as our newest member.”

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon: “The ECAC lacrosse conference is competitive and balanced and we are thrilled to be accepted for membership. We plan to schedule as many of the league schools as possible for the upcoming season while understanding the challenges of scheduling competitions this late in the cycle. We look forward to growing our program and earning the right to compete for championships.”

Paul: “We’re very excited about joining the ECAC. Of course, we wanted to find a way to incorporate the best rivalry in college sports into our conference schedule, so the ECAC was in our sights from Day One because Ohio State was already a member. Top to bottom, the ECAC provides an opportunity to play an outstanding conference schedule against great programs. We feel like it’s a perfect fit.”

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

July 8, 2011

Review & preview: Three teams flying under the radar for 2012

The past four days have featured a premature attempt at the 2012 preseason poll. Friday’s entry includes three teams that did not finish above .500 and missed the tournament this past season. But what they do have is intrigue in either the form of returning players, a new head coach or a campaign that just fell short of the tournament. In alphabetical order, the teams flying under the radar are:

Fairfield (2011 record: 8-8)

Outlook: The Stags turned a lackluster regular season into a reason for optimism by upending Loyola in the semifinals of the Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament and falling, 11-9, to Denver in the final. Fairfield ended the season tied for 11th in Division I in defense by surrendering just 8.1 goals per game. That unit returns starting defensemen Drew Palmer (31 ground balls and 23 caused turnovers) and Greg Perraut (17 GBs, 12 CTs) and junior goalkeeper Charlie Cipriano (7.92 goals-against average and .586 save percentage). The offense returns three 20-point scorers in sophomore midfielder Sam Snow (19 goals and 9 assists), junior attackman John Snellman (21, 3) and freshman attackman Jordan Greenfield (16, 8). If there’s one area the Stags must improve, it’s faceoffs. The unit won just 37.2 percent of its draws (116-of-312). If Fairfield can fix that department, the team could surprise Denver and Ohio State in conference play.

Navy (4-9)

Outlook: This past spring was a forgettable one as the Midshipmen finished outside of the top four in the Patriot League and failed to qualify for the conference tournament for the first time in school history and dropped three straight contests to Army, matching the program’s longest losing skid to its arch-nemesis. Those setbacks ushered the departure of Richie Meade, who has since been replaced by Rick Sowell who has revitalized programs at Dartmouth and Stony Brook. Sowell inherits a youthful attack in freshmen Tucker Hull (23 goals and 15 assists) and Sam Jones (23, 15) and junior Taylor Reynolds (10, 2). Defensively, sophomore defenseman Peter Rogers (17 ground balls and 11 caused turnovers) and junior defenseman Matt Vernam (11 GBs, 5 CTs) and junior goalie R.J. Wickham (9.26 GAA, .491 save percentage), but the unit ranked 37th in the country in defense (9.6 goals).

Princeton (4-8)

Outlook: Injuries took a toll on the Tigers as five players suffered season-ending ailments and aches and pains dogged 15 other players. But there was promise in the form of freshman midfielder Tom Schreiber (16 goals and 13 assists), who was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Year. Schreiber and sophomore Jeff Froccaro (13, 3) could be joined in the starting lineup by incoming recruit Brendan McGrath, an Under Armour All American. The attack is young and lacks a quarterback, but a defense anchored by junior goalkeeper Tyler Fiorito (7.52 GAA, .615 save percentage) and junior defenseman Chad Wiedmaier (24 GBs, 14 CTs) should provide a foundation for next season.

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

July 7, 2011

ESPN’s Mark Dixon delves further into Division I coaching changes

Thursday’s edition of The Sun included an article on the spate of head coaching changes in Division I this year. The article included a few quotes from ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins midfielder Mark Dixon and a thumbnail look at a few selected schools that had hired new coaches or were in the process of doing so.

Dixon surmised that the impetus to win immediately and frequently that administrations are putting on head coaches has resonated on the youth and high school levels of lacrosse.

"I think if you look at the landscape of the sport and when you take it down to the cellular level, the intense involvement of parents and the existence of club teams for kids who are 10 years old, the behavior at games of coaches toward referees, parents toward coaches, parents and coaches toward players -- these are things that youth football and club soccer have endured, and now we face these things in lacrosse," Dixon said. "I think as the game grows, more and more athletes are picking it up, and I think the biggest thing is that the majority of parents haven’t played the game.”

Dixon said university officials can point to Villanova as a case study. The Wildcats went 11-5 this past spring and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the second time in three years despite not fielding a full-time coach.

“That team has not been fully funded with scholarships and the coaching staff has not been a full-time group,” Dixon said. “That’s when really established programs start taking a look at themselves and say, ‘Why can Villanova accomplish this, but we can’t?'”

The issue of instability on the coaching level became a hot topic with 12 programs parting ways with their head coaches this year. But Dixon said the rationale behind those decisions emphasizing on winning national championships began locally 13 years ago.

“I think this all started in 1998 when Tony Seaman resigned from Johns Hopkins, primarily because he failed to get them to a national championship game in eight or nine years,” Dixon said. “I think that kind of kicked things off a little bit, and that’s what the mindset is at Johns Hopkins. Now you wouldn’t think that’s the mindset at those schools that have made changes, but I think another factor is the high-profile nature of the schools. It’s Maryland becoming open [in 2010], North Carolina becoming open, Bill Tierney deciding to leave a six-time national championship program at Princeton to go out west and build another legacy. So I think it’s a combination of things. I think it’s the people involved, but it’s also coming to a point where you’re not having one or two vacancies and guys retiring on their own. It’s six or seven vacancies and at least half of those are because people are forced out and then you have a domino effect. Look at Rick Sowell taking the Navy job. So Stony Brook comes open and Jim Nagle steps over from Colgate. Now Colgate has an opening. That’s the way lacrosse has typically gone. There are six or seven openings because of the domino effect.”

There’s no way to predict whether the trend of firing coaches for not meeting perceived expectations is a brief one, but Dixon said history has shown that everyone is susceptible to being second-guessed.

“I think you have to look at things on a case-by-case basis, but let’s not forget that John Desko in 2007 [when the team went 5-8] – because of the alumni and the fans – was on the hot seat,” Dixon said. “In ’05, they were knocked out of the first round. In ’06, they got to the national semis, but they didn’t make it to the national championship. So that’s a three-year stretch in Syracuse history that is a blip. Dave Pietramala had two straight seasons of what he would probably consider lackluster Hopkins lacrosse, and the alumni and fans were grumbling as well. Let’s look at Dom Starsia. He was under a lot of scrutiny over the last couple of years with the situations that had arisen down at the University of Virginia. They’re not immune to the scrutiny and the finger-pointing, and all three have won multiple national championships!”

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

CORRECTED: Review & preview: Premature 2012 poll part 4

Here is the fourth installment of an attempt at a preseason and premature poll for next season.

The top 20 was broken up into four installments with Thursday’s post involving teams ranked from Nos. 5 to 1. Monday featured Nos. 20 to 16, Tuesday Nos. 15 to 11, and Wednesday Nos. 10 to 6. Friday will include three schools not mentioned in the poll that could make some waves.

Unless there are confirmed reports about certain players planning to use fifth years of eligibility, this space will assume that seniors in 2010 will not return next year. Unannounced fifth-year seniors and potential transfers will affect the rankings that come out next February, but here’s a spin anyway.

5. Johns Hopkins (2011 record: 13-3; Tournament finish: quarterfinals)

Losses: Only one starter in attackman Kyle Wharton (34 goals and 8 assists) and four key contributors in faceoff specialist Matt Dolente (119 ground balls, 194-of-291 for .667), long-stick midfielders Ben Smith (25 GBs, 12 CTs) and Orry Michael (12 GBs, 6 CTs) and short-stick defensive midfielder Tim Donovan.

Returners: Nine starters and seven of the team’s top eight scorers including senior attackman Chris Boland (34, 20), sophomore attackman Zach Palmer (22, 25), sophomore midfielder John Ranagan (18, 14) and sophomore midfielder John Greeley (14, 12).

Reason for pessimism: The departure of Dolente leaves the Blue Jays with only two faceoff specialists with considerable experience on the collegiate level in Ranagan (15-of-31 for .484) and sophomore Mike Poppleton (13-of-19 for .684).

Reason for optimism: Among the four Under Armour All-American recruits are defensemen John Kelly and Michael Pellegrino, who further solidify a defense that returns all three starting defensemen in sophomores Tucker Durkin (35 GBs, 11 CTs) and Chris Lightner (21 GBs, 9 CTs) and freshman Jack Reilly (17 GBs, 10 CTs) and sophomore goalkeeper Pierce Bassett (7.07 goals-against average and .570 save percentage).

4. Denver (15-3; semifinals)

Losses: Three starters in defensemen Steve Simonetti (31 GBs, 19 CTs) and Jeff Brown (24 GBs, 19 CTs) and attackman Todd Baxter (31, 18) and four key contributors in midfielder Andrew Lay (10, 6), long-stick midfielder Jamie MacDonald (15 GBs, 4 CTs) and short-stick defensive midfielders Alex Drexler (12 GBs, 5 CTs) and Emerson Eichler (12 GBs, 6 CTs).

Returners: Seven starters including the entire starting midfield of sophomores Cameron Flint (27, 11), Eric Law (17, 15) and Chase Carraro (19, 2) and two-thirds of the starting attack in juniors Mark Matthews (46, 24) and Alex Demopoulos (30, 28).

Reason for pessimism: After the Pioneers became the first program west of the Mississippi River to advance to the Final Four, all eyes will be on them to see if they can repeat or if they wilt under expectations.

Reason for optimism: The void created by the departure of Baxter should be mitigated by moving Law to attack and inserting freshman Jeremy Noble (18, 16) on the first midfield. The offense shouldn’t miss a beat.

3. Virginia (13-5; NCAA champion)

Losses: Five starters in midfielders Shamel Bratton (20, 8), Rhamel Bratton (17, 5) and John Haldy (7, 8), defenseman/long-stick midfielder Bray Malphrus (34 GBs, 17 CTs) and goalkeeper Adam Ghitelman (9.54 GAA, .535 save percentage) and two key contributors in faceoff specialists Garett Ince (32 GBs, 76-of-149 for .510) and Brian McDermott (23 GBs, 64-of-131 for .489).

Returners: Five starters including the entire attack of juniors Steele Stanwick (32, 38) and Chris Bocklet (44, 5) and sophomore Matt White (20, 7) and two-thirds of the defensemen in junior Chris Clements (46 GBs, 13 CTs) and freshman Scott McWilliams (20 GBs, 16 CTs).

Reason for pessimism: Junior Rob Fortunato registered a 9.58 goals-against average and a .543 save percentage in eight games (including one start). Can he replace Ghitelman as the starting goalie?

Reason for optimism: The midfield returns junior Colin Briggs (29, 12) and freshman Rob Emery (13, 7), and the Cavaliers demonstrated that White, sophomore Nick O’Reilly (8, 13) and freshman Mark Cockerton (13, 4) can also initiate from the midfield.

2. Cornell (14-3; quarterfinals)

Losses: Three starters in attackman David Lau (28, 21), midfielder Jack Dudley (12, 3) and defenseman Max Feely (34 GBs, 15 CTs) and a key contributor in short stick defensive midfielder Shane O’Neill (13 GBs, 8 CTs).

Returners: Seven starters including junior attackman and reigning Player of the Year Rob Pannell (42, 47), sophomore attackman Steve Mock (40, 3) and junior midfielder Roy Lang (27, 9) and freshman midfielder Mike O’Neil (13, 4).

Reason for pessimism: The departure of Lau saps the Big Red of a versatile player who could switch between attack and midfield and a capable playmaker who complemented Pannell as a feeder on offense.

Reason for optimism: The defense should be solid with the return of a pair of starting defensemen in sophomores Jason Noble (71 GBs, 30 CTs) and Mike Bronzino (57 GBs, 26 CTs), sophomore goalie A.J. Fiore (8.31 GAA, .504 save percentage), sophomore long-stick midfielder Thomas Keith (37 GBs, 20 CTs) and sophomore short-stick defensive midfielder Tom Trasolini (15 GBs).

1. Duke (14-6; semifinals)

Losses: Three Two starters in attackman Zach Howell (43, 16) and defenseman Tom Montelli (55 GBs, 28 CTs) and four key contributors in midfielder Tom Rynn (9, 4), attackman Jesse Fehr (10, 2), short-stick defensive midfielder Terrence Molinari (3, 2; 37 GBs, 7 CTs) and goalkeeper Mike Rock (9.06 GAA, .492 save percentage in three starts).

Returners: Seven Eight starters and six seven of the team’s top eight scorers including freshman attackmen Jordan Wolf (31, 20) and Christian Walsh (21, 13), sophomore midfielder David Lawson (23, 9), junior midfielder Robert Rotanz (23, 5) and redshirt junior midfielder Justin Turri (14, 11).

Reason for pessimism: Sophomore goalie Dan Wigrizer can get hot and appear to be impenetrable in the net. But he must lower his 9.20 goals-against average and raise his .550 save percentage to give the Blue Devils a shot at their second NCAA title in three years.

Reason for optimism: Wigrizer should get some assistance when defenseman Mike Manley (44 GBs, 17 CTs in 2010) returns from knee surgery that sidelined him for 2011 and joins sophomore Bill Conners (34 GBs, 6 CTs) and freshman Chris Hipps (19 GBs, 7 CTs) as starters. (Thanks to reader Paul Thomson III for catching the errors.)

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Johns Hopkins
        

July 6, 2011

Review & preview: Premature 2012 poll part 3

Here is the third installment of an attempt at a preseason and premature poll for next season.

The top 20 will be broken up into four installments with Wednesday’s post involving teams ranked from Nos. 10 to 6. Monday featured Nos. 20 to 16, and Tuesday looked at Nos. 15 to 11. Thursday will highlight teams ranked Nos. 5 to 1. Friday will include three schools not mentioned in the poll that could make some waves.

Unless there are confirmed reports about certain players planning to use fifth years of eligibility, this space will assume that seniors in 2010 will not return next year. Unannounced fifth-year seniors and potential transfers will affect the rankings that come out next February, but here’s a spin anyway.

10. Massachusetts (2011 record: 10-5; Tournament finish: no tournament)

Losses: No starters, but two key contributors in first-line midfielder Ryan Hantverk (18, 9) and short-stick defensive midfielder Stephen Zonkers (16 GBs, 8 CTs).

Returners: All 10 starters including the entire starting attack of sophomore Will Manny (22, 23), junior Art Kell (28, 16), and sophomore Kyle Smith (11, 4) and the starting defense of juniors Tom Celentani (34 GBs, 22 CTs) and Greg Anderson (17 GBs, 13 CTs) and sophomore Jake Smith (25 GBs, 25 CTs) and junior goalkeeper Tim McCormack (8.33 GAA, .548 save percentage).

Reason for pessimism: The Minutemen have never captured the Colonial Athletic Association tournament championship. Can they end the drought with what may be their most talented team returning?

Reason for optimism: Hantverk’s absence could be mitigated by the presence of incoming recruit Brandon Gamblin, an Under Armour All-American midfielder.

9. Harvard (10-6; no tournament)

Losses: Just two starters in attackmen Dean Gibbons (30 goals and 29 assists) and Matt Hull (14, 8) and two key contributors in defenseman Sam Steyer (18 ground balls and 7 caused turnovers) and faceoff specialist Andrew Parchman (49 GBs, 117-of-226 for .518).

Returners: Eight of the team’s top 10 scorers including junior attackman Jeff Cohen (31, 2), junior attackman Kevin Vaughan (19, 8), freshman attackman Daniel Eipp (16, 8) and junior midfielder Terry White (15, 7).

Reason for pessimism: Despite the return of the entire starting defense of junior Paul Pate (24 GBs, 6 CTs), sophomore Jason Gonos (27 GBs, 13 CTs) and freshman Joe Petrucci (10 GBs, 2 CTs) and sophomore goalkeeper Harry Krieger (9.38 goals-against average and .539 save percentage), opponents scored an average of 9.4 goals against the Crimson last season.

Reason for optimism: Harvard’s incoming recruiting class includes four Under Armour All Americans in defensemen Brian Fischer and Stephen Jahelka, midfielder Sean Mahon and goalie Jake Gambitsky.

8. Villanova (11-5; first round)

Losses: Only one starter in defenseman Chris Ficke (43 GBs, 15 CTs) and three key contributors in long-stick midfielder and Big East Defensive Player of the Year Brian Karalunas (74GBs, 70 CTs) and short-stick defensive midfielders Andrew Henrich (3, 4; 15 GBs) and T.J. O’Donnell (15 GBs).

Returners: Nine starters including the entire starting attack of sophomores Jack Rice (34, 3) and Will Casertano (18, 17) and junior Kevin Cunningham (24, 21) and the starting midfield of juniors Matt Bell (18, 11) and Michael Vigilante (14, 9) and sophomore Nick Doherty (12, 12).

Reason for pessimism: The return of sophomore goalkeeper Billy Hurley (8.33 GAA, .482 save percentage) and junior defensemen Chris Creighton (38 GBs, 18 CTs) and Ryan McDonagh (16 GBs) should help, but how much will the Wildcats miss Karalunas, Ficke, Henrich and O’Donnell?

Reason for optimism: The offense should get plenty of chances to help out the defense courtesy of a faceoff unit that includes junior Nolan Vihlen (18 GBs, 108-of-197 for .548) and freshman Thomas Croonquist (38 GBs, 81-of-135 for .600).

7. Notre Dame (11-3; quarterfinals)

Losses: Four starters in midfielders David Earl (15, 10) and Zach Brenneman (16, 6) and defensemen Kevin Ridgway (13 GBs, 12 CTs) and Sam Barnes (14 GBs, 8 CTs) and three key contributors in attackman Colin Igoe (16, 4), long-stick midfielder Andrew Irving (3, 3; 20 GBs, 4 CTs) and faceoff specialist Jake Marmul (31 GBs, 64-of-115 for .557).

Returners: Six starters including the entire attack of juniors Sean Rogers (18, 7) and Nicholas Beattie (8, 1) and sophomore Ryan Foley (8, 4).

Reason for pessimism: Junior midfielder Max Pfeifer (9, 8) returns, but it’s up to junior Eric Keppeler (5, 5) and sophomores Steve Murphy (6, 4) and Pat Cotter (5, 3) to fill the void on the first line.

Reason for optimism: In addition to a pair of defensive starters in goalie John Kemp (6.60 GAA, .602 save percentage) and junior defenseman Kevin Randall (10 GBs, 5 CTs), junior long-stick midfielder Bobby Smith (18 GBs, 8 CTs) and junior defenseman Jake Brems (18 GBs, 5 CTs) figure to fortify the unit that finished the season ranked second in the country after surrendering an average of 6.6 goals per game.

6. North Carolina (10-6; first round)

Losses: Three starters in defensemen Ryan Flanagan (3, 2; 44 GBs, 29 CTs) and Kevin Piegare (12 GBs, 8 CTs) and attackman Billy Bitter (25, 14) and two key contributors in short-stick defensive midfielders Michael Burns (22 GBs) and Chris Hunt (10 GBs).

Returners: Seven starters including the entire starting midfield of sophomore Marcus Holman (23, 5), junior Jimmy Dunster (13, 8), and freshman Duncan Hutchins (7, 6) and freshman attackman Nicky Galasso (24, 32) and junior attackman Thomas Wood (21, 13).

Reason for pessimism: The defense will lean on a pair of starters in junior defenseman Charlie McComas (30 GBs, 9 CTs) and redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Steven Rastivo (8.18 GAA, .534 save percentage in nine starts), but can freshman defenseman Jordan Smith (8 GBs, 4 CTs in seven starts) and junior long-stick midfielder Mark Staines (30 GBs, 15 CTs) further solidify that unit?

Reason for optimism: A Tar Heels incoming class that includes five Under Armour All Americans could be even more impressive if sophomore attackman Davey Emala, who led Georgetown in both points (48) and goals (35) in 2011, transfers to North Carolina as previously reported.

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

July 5, 2011

Review & preview: Premature 2012 poll part 2

Here is the second installment of an attempt at a preseason and premature poll for next season.

The top 20 will be broken up into four installments with Tuesday’s post involving teams ranked from Nos. 15 to 11. Monday featured Nos. 20 to 16. Wednesday will highlight teams ranked Nos. 10 to 6 and Thursday Nos. 5 to 1. Friday will include three schools not mentioned in the poll that could make some waves.

Unless there are confirmed reports about certain players planning to use fifth years of eligibility, this space will assume that seniors in 2010 will not return next year. Unannounced fifth-year seniors and potential transfers will affect the rankings that come out next February, but here’s a spin anyway.

15. Yale (2010 record: 10-4; Tournament finish: no tournament)

Losses: Just two starters in attackman Brian Douglass (28 goals and 15 assists) and goalkeeper Johnathan Falcone (7.30 goals-against average and .559 save percentage) and the starting long-stick midfielder in Patrick Coleman (46 ground balls and 29 caused turnovers).

Returners: Six of the team’s top seven scorers including junior attackman Matt Gibson (20, 16), junior midfielder Greg Mahoney (16, 8) and freshman attackman Brandon Mangan (11, 6).

Reason for pessimism: Although the Bulldogs bring back three starting defensemen in sophomores Michael McCormack (32 GBs, 33 CTs), Peter Johnson (18 GBs, 13 CTs) and Phil Gross (17 GBs, 13 CTs), the onus is on sophomore Peter Spaulding or freshman Jack Meyer to succeed Falcone.

Reason for optimism: The offense should get plenty of opportunities courtesy of a faceoff unit that includes sophomore Cole Yeager (75 GBs, 140-of-216 for .648) and freshman Dylan Levings (33 GBs, 61-of-84 for .726).

14. Penn (8-7; first round)

Losses: Three starters in attackman Corey Winkoff (8, 27), midfielder Al Kohart (26, 3) and defenseman Brett Hughes (21 GBs, 18 CTs) and a key contributor in short-stick defensive midfielder Terry Kennedy (15 GBs, 9 CTs).

Returners: Seven starters including junior attackman John Conneely (13, 7), junior midfielder Dan Savage (16, 3) and sophomore attackman Rob Fitzpatrick (14, 5).

Reason for pessimism: Faceoffs were a liability as the Quakers won just 42.7 percent (129-of-302) of their draws. That contributed to an offense that managed to average just 8.2 goals, which ranked 46th in the country.

Reason for optimism: The defense appears to be in good hands with freshman defenseman Maxx Meyer (43 GBs, 23 CTs), sophomore defenseman Anthony Santomo (32 GBs, 18 CTs), junior long-stick midfielder Will Koshansky (47 GBs, 45 CTs) and freshman goalie Brian Feeney (8.22 GAA, .494 save percentage).

13. Penn State (7-7; no tournament)

Losses: Only one starter in defenseman Matt Bernier (39 GBs, 14 CTs) and a key contributor in first-line midfielder Colton Vosburgh (9, 3).

Returners: Nine starters including the entire starting attack of juniors Matt Mackrides (20, 10) and Jack Forster (14, 1) and freshman Shane Sturgis (18, 16) and two starting midfielders in sophomore Kyle VanThof (8, 7) and freshman Tom LaCrosse (9, 3).

Reason for pessimism: The offense averaged just 8.1 goals per game and converted just 22.6 percent (12-of-53) of its extra-man opportunities.

Reason for optimism: A defense that tied for ninth in country (8.0 goals-per-game average) returns three starting defensemen in juniors Bill Davis (18 GBs, 13 CTs) and Ryan McGarvey (16 GBs, 9CTs) and freshman Steven Bogert (31 GBs, 8 CTs) and freshman goalie Austin Kaut (7.90 GAA, .635 save percentage).

12. Syracuse (15-2; quarterfinals)

Losses: Seven starters in midfielders Jeremy Thompson (18, 12), Josh Amidon (16, 12) and Jovan Miller (14, 11), defensemen John Lade (29 GBs, 22 CTs) and Thomas Guadagnolo (22 GBs, 15 CTs), attackman Stephen Keogh (33, 8) and goalie John Galloway (6.70 GAA, .572 save percentage) and a key contributor in long-stick midfielder Joel White (4, 2; 79 GBs, 30 CTs).

Returners: Three starters in sophomore attackman JoJo Marasco (23, 18) and redshirt junior attackman Tim Desko (16, 3) and sophomore defenseman Brian Megill (34 GBs, 27 CTs) and two key contributors in junior attackman Tom Palasek (17, 18) and junior short-stick defensive midfielder Kevin Drew (6, 1; 33 GBs, 11 CTs).

Reason for pessimism: There are a lot of holes to fill, but none may be more important than replacing Galloway, a four-year starter. Redshirt freshman Matthew Lerman registered an 8.47 goals-against average and a .615 save percentage in seven contests this past spring.

Reason for optimism: Marasco, Palasek and Desko should anchor the attack as four Under Armour All Americans in midfielders Thomas Grimm and Matt Walters, attackman Kevin Rice and goalkeeper Bobby Wardell find their footing in the system.

11. Maryland (13-4; final)

Losses: Five starters in attackmen Grant Catalino (29, 10) and Ryan Young (19, 18) and defensemen Brett Schmidt (50 GBs, 22 CTs), Max Schmidt (31 GBs, 17 CTs) and Ryder Bohlander (21 GBs, 11 CTs) and three key contributors in attackman Travis Reed (10, 10), long-stick midfielder Brian Farrell (7, 6; 35 GBs, 18 CTs) and short-stick defensive midfielder Dan Burns (23 GBs, 6 CTs).

Returners: Five starters including the entire midfield of juniors Drew Snider (17, 3) and Jake Bernhardt (14, 3) and sophomore John Haus (13, 12) and redshirt freshman goalkeeper Niko Amato (6.78 GAA, .583 save percentage).

Reason for pessimism: Despite the return of Amato, sophomore long-stick midfielder Jesse Bernhardt (2, 2; 40 GBs, 16 CTs), sophomore short-stick defensive midfielder Landon Carr (7, 1; 19 GBs, 9 CTs) and junior short-stick defensive midfielder Michael Shakespeare (16 GBs, 6 CTs), no close defenseman outside of the graduated seniors played in more than eight games.

Reason for optimism: The Terps welcome seven Under Armour All Americans in the next recruiting class, and former Princeton freshman midfielder Mike Chanenchuk (28, 8 in 2010) and former Penn State sophomore attackman Billy Gribbin (29, 10 in two seasons) are reportedly intending to transfer to Maryland.

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Maryland
        

July 4, 2011

Review & preview: Premature 2012 poll part 1

With Virginia closing out 2011 with the program’s fifth national championship, the 2012 college lacrosse season is just seven months away. What better way to preface the upcoming campaign with a preseason and premature poll?

The top 20 will be broken up into four installments with Monday’s post involving teams ranked from Nos. 20 to 16. Tuesday will feature Nos. 15 to 11, Wednesday Nos. 10 to 6 and Thursday Nos. 5 to 1. Friday will include three schools not mentioned in the poll that could make some waves.

Unless there are confirmed reports about certain players planning to use fifth years of eligibility, this space will assume that seniors in 2010 will not return next year. Unannounced fifth-year seniors and potential transfers will affect the rankings that come out next February, but here’s a spin anyway.

20. Colgate (2011 record: 11-5; Tournament finish: no tournament)

Losses: Four starters in attackman Andrew Mould (23 goals and 5 assists), defenseman Greg Perkins (24 ground balls and 12 caused turnovers), faceoff specialist Jim Carroll (2, 6; 85 GBs, 163-of-286 for .570) and short-stick defensive midfielder Dave Tucciarone (52 GBs, 22 CTs) and two key contributors in attackman Ben McCabe (20, 5) and midfielder Rob Bosco (9, 9).

Returners: Three-fourths of the starting defense in sophomore defenseman James Queeney (20 GBs, 10 CTs) and freshman defenseman Bobby Lawrence (30 GBs, 17 CTs) and junior goalkeeper Jared Madison (8.13 goals-against average and .539 save percentage).

Reason for pessimism: Carroll’s graduation leaves the Raiders with just one experienced faceoff specialist in sophomore Robert Grabher (12 GBs, 17-of-35 for .486).

Reason for optimism: The return of a talented midfield is headlined by sophomore and two-time All-Patriot League first-team selection Peter Baum, who led the team in points (49), goals (34) and assists (15).

19. Hartford (11-7; first round)

Losses: Four starters including a pair of defensemen in Conor Flynn (73 GBs, 43 CTs) and Dan Gillespie (20 GBs, 7 CTs), faceoff specialist Tim Fallon (166 GBs, 238-of-383 for .621), and short-stick defensive midfielder Brendan Marlow (39 GBs).

Returners: The entire starting attack of juniors Ryan Compitello (22, 27) and Aidan Genik (23, 10) and sophomore Rory Nunamacher (22, 13) and the first midfielder of juniors Carter Bender (35, 18) and Martin Bowes (20, 13) and sophomore Jared Franze (25, 4).

Reason for pessimism: After Fallon, sophomore Mike Brown is the next experienced faceoff specialist, having won 14-of-21 draws this past spring.

Reason for optimism: Refortifying the defense may be somewhat easier on the nerves as the team has appeared to settle on its goalie of the near future. Junior Scott Bement made the last seven starts, registering a 9.28 goals-against average and a .535 save percentage.

18. Ohio State (8-8; no tournament)

Losses: One starter in midfielder Jarred Bowman (8, 3) and a key reserve in defenseman Conor David (18 GBs, 10 CTs).

Returners: The entire starting attack of sophomores Logan Schuss (32, 20) and Jeff Tundo (33, 12) and freshman Tyler Frederick (18, 14) and the starting defense of juniors Keenan Ochwat (36 GBs, 28 CTs) and Joe Bonnani (15 GBs, 7 CTs) and redshirt junior Matt Kawamoto (32 GBs, 14 CTs) and freshman goalkeeper Greg Dutton (8.35 GAA, .516 save percentage).

Reason for pessimism: Aside from sophomore midfielder Domonique Alexander (16, 8), the Buckeyes need more production from their midfield to alleviate some of the pressure on the attack.

Reason for optimism: A defense that surrendered an average of 8.1 goals per game – which tied for 11th in Division I – could get stronger with the insertion of freshman Joe Meurer (30 GBs, 8 CTs) and incoming recruit Eric Chadderon.

17. Drexel (8-6; no tournament)

Losses: Just one starter in attackman and Colonial Atheltic Association Player of the Year Scott Perri (39, 27) and one key reserve in midfielder Dan Layfield (7, 5).

Returners: Four of last season’s top five scorers in sophomore attackmen Robert Church (27, 22) and Brendan Glynn (23, 6), junior midfielder Kyle Bergman (19, 12) and sophomore attackman Nick Trizano (19, 5). Junior goalkeeper Mark Manos (9.09 GAA, .563 save percentage) is also back.

Reason for pessimism: The Dragons return three starting defensemen in juniors Frank Tufano (48 GBs, 25 CTs), Dana Wilber (39 GBs, 11 CTs) and Brian Teuber (23 GBs, 16 CTs) and freshman long-stick midfielder Matt Dusek (24 GBs, 13 Cts), but there is not much depth behind those guys.

Reason for optimism: An offense that averaged 11.3 goals en route to finishing the season ranked ninth in the country could become more potent with the addition of incoming attackman Cory Dobyns, who switched his commitment from Maryland to Drexel.

16. Bucknell (14-3; first round)

Losses: Four starters in defensemen Alex Lyons (64 GBs, 27 CTs) and John Collett (22 GBs, 21 CTs), midfielder Ryan Klipstein (32, 21) and attackman Mike Danylyshyn (18, 18).

Returners: Six of the top eight scorers including junior midfielder Charlie Streep (28, 9), junior attackman Billy Eisenreich (19, 15) and freshman attackman Todd Heritage (26, 7).

Reason for pessimism: Can sophomore Ryan Gutowski (20 GBs, 48-of-91 for .527) replace Jake Clarke (105 GBs, 130-of-259 for .502) as the team’s primary faceoff specialist?

Reason for optimism: The cupboard on defense isn’t entirely bare as junior Jason Neithamer (21 GBs, 7 CTs) and freshman Jackson Place (15 GBs, 7 CTs) could move into the starting lineup and sophomore goalie Kyle Feeney (7.24 GAA, .539 save percentage) should continue his development.

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

July 2, 2011

UMBC adds former Binghamton head coach to staff

Ed Stephenson, a former UMBC assistant coach from 1995 to 2000 who worked to beat the Retrievers as the head coach at Binghamton, has re-joined UMBC.

The university announced Friday that Stephenson has been added to Don Zimmerman’s staff as the associate head coach. Stephenson fills the void created when Pat Tracy, then the team’s defensive coordinator, left for High Point on May 31.

“I am absolutely thrilled to have Ed Stephenson return to UMBC,” Zimmerman said in a written statement distributed by the school. “Coach Stephenson is a person of principle and strong character. He has proven himself to be one of the top defensive minds in the game of lacrosse and is admired and respected by his colleagues. His ability to relate to players both on and off the field is invaluable to their growth and development.” 

Stephenson, a former defenseman at Towson, had been the head coach at Binghamton since the program’s inception for the 2002 season. Although his overall record with the Bearcats was a less-than-flattering 45-81, Stephenson directed the team to six consecutive America East tournaments and the title game in 2004, which was the only time he was named the conference’s Coach of the Year.

Stephenson resigned from Binghamton in March to protest the school’s decision to suspend three players for their involvement in an on-campus fight on March 2.

Stephenson argued that the three students had not been given due process, and he claimed they were in danger of being kicked out of school.

The players remained in school, but they did not play for the remainder of the season.

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: UMBC
        

July 1, 2011

What ESPN's Mark Dixon intends to look for in Saturday's All-America game

On Saturday night, 44 of the nation’s top prep lacrosse players will descend upon Towson University’s Johnny Unitas Stadium to take part in the sixth annual Under Armour All-America Classic, and ESPN analyst Mark Dixon will have a front-row view of the action.

The former Johns Hopkins midfielder will provide commentary for ESPNU’s broadcast of the game, which he said must be treated as an all-star game.

“So you can’t base how a person is going to fare on the collegiate level based on one game,” Dixon said Thursday afternoon. “Last year, Nicky Galasso, playing for the North [team], scored one goal. He was the No. 1 recruit coming in, and people were wondering, ‘Wow, is he not that good?’ And then he’s just dynamite as a freshman at Carolina where he becomes a first-team All American. So you can’t put too much stock into it. But I get excited just to see what we can look forward to in college lacrosse the next four years.”

Dixon said the group of attackmen headlined by North Carolina recruit Jimmy Bitter, Maryland’s David Solomon and Johns Hopkins’ Mike Daniello has the potential to be “special.”

Dixon said he’s also intrigued by the corps of midfielders led by Virginia recruit and The Sun’s All-Metro Player of the Year Ryan Tucker and Albany’s Lyle Thompson.

“The midfield seems to be the position that doesn’t have as many marquee guys anymore,” Dixon said. “It just so happens that the attack has had the dominant collegiate players over the last few years. So I’m interested to see how some of these midfielders can do.”

Because of the open-field, high-octane setting of Saturday’s contest, Dixon acknowledged that it’s difficult to evaluate the defensemen and goalkeepers. Keeping the score low is not a criteria for Dixon.

“I think what you look for from the defensemen is their athleticism and their ability to cover versus their discipline in an all-star game,” he said. “It’s such a free-wheeling style that you have to look at the defensemen and their athleticism. Goalies see more rubber than a Goodyear tire factory. … For the goalies, you’re just looking at their ability to make saves. They’ll have the opportunity because they will face a lot of shots.”

Here are a few individuals that intrigue Dixon:

Attackman Jimmy Bitter (committed to North Carolina): “He’s Billy Bitter’s younger brother, and he plays a lot like Billy. Quick, very balanced, a good feeder, tough.”

Midfielder Lyle Thompson (Albany): “He is the younger brother of Jeremy Thompson from Syracuse. He’s going to Albany, and he’s supposed to be a dynamic player and terrific scorer.”

Attackman Joe Sankey (North Carolina): “He’s only 5-6. So I’m interested in watching him play and seeing how he does in this sport where everybody is becoming bigger, stronger and faster.”

Midfielder Bobby Gribbin (Maryland): “He was originally a Penn State commit, and he changed up and is now going to Maryland.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland
        
Keep reading
Recent entries
Archives
Categories
About Faceoff
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.
-- ADVERTISEMENT --

Sign up for FREE local sports alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for local sports text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Photo galleries
Blog updates
Recent updates to baltimoresun.com sports blogs  Subscribe to this feed