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The players wouldn’t call the victory an upset but the rest of the Division 3 community just might.

This afternoon, the #8 Stevenson Mustangs faced the #2 team in D3 land, the Gettysburg Bullets and were once again considered huge underdogs against Hank Janczyk’s squad.  However on this chilly day in Owings Mills, MD, Paul Cantabene’s Mustangs trounced the Bullets 16-6 and left Gettysburg headed back home on the bus shaking their heads.

Stevenson opened up scoring only 53 seconds into the game.  Gettysburg would answer back quickly tallying off the next two goals to take a 2-1 lead and never see it again the rest of the afternoon.  Trailing 2-1 in the first quarter, the Mustangs went on to a 9 goal first half run (7 assisted) and led 10-2 at the half.  But they weren’t done with the goal streak as it would extend to 10 in the 3rd until Gettysburg was finally able to net one.

The second half was no different from the first as Stevenson won the head to head 6-4 and dominated all over the field.

Stevenson’s attack ran wild in today’s win as  Jimmy Dailey led all scorers with 4 goals and 3 assists.  Richie Ford tallied 4 and 1 and Steve Kazimer went a respectable 2 and 2.   Gettysburg’s defense was said to be their strength coming into the 2009 season, but they may have to go back and fine tune that machine.

The Mustangs beat the Bullets all over the field.  The unofficial stats had them winning in Shots 44-36, Groundballs 27-18, Face offs 15-9 (Greg Furshman 11 wins) and even in saves 11-10.

This weekend, Gettysburg takes on 2008 runners up #3 Cortland State up on Long Island and Stevenson plays at Ursinus.

mustang gettysburg

We can almost say the season is fully underway.  Once the NESCAC gets going sometime next week, we’ll have ourselves a season here in D3 land.  The action thus far has been kind of slow but games should kick into high gear moving forward.

The game of this past week had to be Stevenson holding onto beat Widener 7-6.  I attended that game and I thought it was kind of sloppy, even in the 2nd half when it all was on the line.  Stevenson relied heavily on holding the ball and playing the clock game.  It worked in their favor but Widener showed some great defensive play in the second half.  I attended the Mustangs tailgate after and that may lead into a new series of blog posts where I review and cover tailgates!  Look for a post about it within a day or two.

The upset or at least a shocker so far this season has to be Mary Washington ousting Hampden-Sydney 9-7.  I don’t think anyone saw that coming after HS had had some hype coming into the season.

Salisbury has answered its critics with vigor by opening up 3-0 and by putting a stamp on their victory over Lynchburg.  This was the first test for the Gulls on their road to 3-peat.  Kylor Berkman looks unstoppable.  I know he put up big numbers against some lower talent, but putting in 4-3 against the Hornets is never an easy task.

This week we have some great match ups.

The Game of the Week: #12 Haverford @ #5 Cabrini
Better Bring Your Mittens:  #18 Western New England @ #3 Cortland State
The Haves or the Have Nots:  #8 Stevenson @ #15 Stevens Tech
Make or Break It Early:  Ohio Wesleyan @ #10 Lynchburg

And don’t forget #2 Gettysburg finally opens up to make their own Championship run at home against Hampden-Sydney on Saturday.

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The Mustang Blog - Part 1

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This week there is a double header at M&T Stadium that is billed as a great day of lacrosse. However, Maryland vs. Duke, and Princeton vs. Hopkins just is not as exciting as it once was. A Maryland vs. Hopkins game would have been better.

Maryland plays Duke at 2:30 at M&T Stadium.

Maryland is 2-1. No wins over ranked teams, and 1 loss to #5 Georgetown.

Maryland’s scoring against Georgetown was a big surprise. Their attack which I think so highly of, did not produce (3goals). It was their midfield that showed up. Not only did their midfield unit score most of the goals, they also won 17 of 26 face offs. Maryland is still a team to be reckoned with.

Duke is 2-1. They beat #17 Colgate by just 1 goal, and lost to #14 Harvard. Duke is not waiting until the post season to choke. The Blue Devils just can’t seem to find a rhythm either on offense or defense. The once feared Duke scoring machine only got off 29 shots against Harvard. Their EMO is 2 for 7 on the whole year. Duke is relying too heavily on their midfield lines as their top three scorers are Ned Crotty (4G, 8A), Brad Ross (6G, 2A), and Steve Schoeffel (5G, 0A). Max Quinzani (4G, 1A) has not been able to do much without Greer or Danowski by his side.

On the other side of the field, goalie Rob Schroeder is letting in more than 50% of the shots he faces (24 Goals Against, 22 Saves).

Duke is also below 50% on face-offs.

The Blue Devils should fear the turtle. Maryland should be able to get their midfield and attack firing on Schroeder. Couple that with winning most of the face-offs, Duke will lose and fall into lacrosse mediocrity…Just like Hofstra used to be.

Princeton faces Johns Hopkins at 6:00pm at M&T Stadium.

This game should be better than the beating Duke will take.

Hopkins is 1-0 after a thorough thrashing of Siena last week. While this was expected, there were two key stats in the game that should be examined before this game. The 1st is that Hopkins EMO unit was blanked (0 for 3). The 2nd is that Hopkins was thoroughly beat on face-offs (7 of 18). The Jays need to shore these parts of their game up before facing Princeton. The main highlight was the play of Mike Gvozden and the defense. Yes, I was a hater in the first half of last year, as Gvozden looked like a black hole, but then he turned his season around and was saving everything that was thrown at him. It was nice to see the defense only let Siena take 26 shots on cage, and Gvozden start off with a 73% save percentage (3GA, 23SV).

Hopkins has enough depth that if Princeton can shut down leader Steve Boyle (4G, 2A), Kyle Wharton (3G, 0A), Brian Christopher (1G, 2A), or Mike Kimmel (1G, 1A) can step it up.

Princeton is 1-0 after beating Canisius 14-6.

Interesting to point out, at the half, Princeton was actually losing by 1 to Canisius. That changed in the 3rd quarter, as the Tigers unleashed a barrage of shots and netted 8 goals. Jack McBride led the way (4G, 1A), followed by Tommy Davis (3G, 0A), Chris McBride (2G, 0A), and Rob Engelke (2G, 0A). Key stats for this game were that of the 14 Princeton goals, only 5 were assisted. The Tigers had 6 chances on EMO and converted on half of them. Princeton only allowed 22 shots on goal.

While Princeton’s style of play should guarantee Hopkins doesn’t run away with it, Hopkins defense should smother the Tigers’ attack. This should be a low scoring game with Hopkins winning it on their defense/goalie and midfield scoring.

Syracuse vs. Virginia - Photo by Getty Images North America

Photo by Getty Images North America

The game of the week, if not year is UVA at Syracuse on Friday at 7pm.

This should be a great rematch of last year’s quarterfinal game. Both teams have similar styles of hard defense, and lots of firepower.

Syracuse is 2-0 with no wins against ranked teams.

Their offense is averaging 53 shots per game and 19.5 goals per game. Their main threats are Kenny Nims (6G, 8A), Steve Keogh (8G, 3A), Dan hardy (3G, 3A), Chris Daniello (5G, 0A), and Tim Desko (3G, 2A). Between Nims and Keogh they have picked up any slack left by Leveille’s graduation. The third attack spot has seen Daniello, Desko, and Niewieroski round out the 1-2 punch. The Midfield is led by Hardy, and transfer Kahoe, however Abbott needs to contribute more.

Their defense keeping opponents to 18 shots per game, 4.5 goals per game. Even though they lost Evan Brady and Kyle Guadagnolo, Sid “Vicious” Smith is back, bringing back the physical style of play. He is joined by Matt Tierney and John Lade at close D. In net for Syracuse is John Galloway who has started this season off with a 56% save percentage.

Where Syracuse really excels is their special teams. Their EMO is 8 of 9 (89%), and their man-down unit is a perfect 100% (0-10).

UVA is 4-0 with no wins over ranked teams. Their offense is averaging 53.5 shots per game and 13.25 goals per game. The top guns for UVA are Garrett Billings (14G, 8A), Steele Stanwick (7G, 6A), Brian Carroll (10G, 1A), and Danny Glading (2G, 8A).

Their defense is allowing 5.75 goals per game and 23.5 shots per game. Close D is led by Ken Clausen who plays a fun style of D to watch. His flashiness is complemented by the physical play of Matt Kelly. In between the pipes is Sophomore Adam Ghitelman, a solid goalie who has put up a 62% save percentage this season.

UVA’s special teams is a possible weakness. Their EMO is only 25% (3 for 12), and their man-down unit is 58% (5-12).

I think both attack units will witn the battles against their opponents’ defenses. Glading, and Bilings proved it in last year’s game, and their attack unit only got better with the addition of Steele Stanwick. For Syracuse, while Leveille put on a one-man show against Virginia’s D, I think both Nims and Keogh have stepped it up, and now Syracuse actually has more threats on attack than UVA can cover.

At midfield Syracuse’s defensive middies should be able to hold Carroll from having a huge game, although no one can stop him completely. The question will be can UVA stop Hardy. I think Hardy is one possible deciding factor. The other as stated before will be special teams. If UVA racks up penalties (averaging 3 per game), Syracuse can, and will take advantage. In a close 1 or at the max 2 goal game, Syracuse edges out UVA.

This is my first experience into blogging and I hope that you will be checking in weekly to follow what it’s like in the life of an Associate AD and Head Lacrosse Coach on the DIII level. I hope you will understand and appreciate the principles of academic and athletic excellence and feel my experiences will be worth following.

My personal coaching philosophy can be summed up in two words: passion and integrity. I love the sport of lacrosse. Everyday, I am excited by the fact that there is a career that enables me to be intricately involved with the sport of lacrosse. The passion that I have for the sport is contagious. My enthusiasm and spirit for my position as a coach and love of the game is unavoidable. I have worked hard to instill this passion in my teams and have had the opportunity to watch it grow both collectively and individually.

I have had the privilege to work under two of the most recognized coaches in the game, Tony Seaman at Towson University and Dave Cottle at the University of Maryland. In my short time at Stevenson University (formerly Villa Julie College) I have lead the team that only had a varsity team for 9 years in DIII to a 43-24 record including three 10 win seasons. Highlighted by a school record 13 wins in 2008, 3 conference championship games in four years, I am also an Associate AD at the university in charge of all male sports and all athletic facilities.

My coaching ability has been enhanced by my experiences as a professional player. I played 6 years in the MLL along with 11 years in the NLL. I also played 7 years in the USCLA for the Mt. Washington Lacrosse Club after I graduated from Loyola in 1993.

We have just completed our first week of practice and it was a great week of practice. The boys all came back in shape and ready to take on the challenge that the 2009 season will bring. We do a few different things at Stevenson University to bring the team together also reward individuals for their good deeds that I have learn from travels as an DI assistant coach for 10 years.

We try to have an inspirational quote each week to start the practice off with. This weeks “Quote Private” was Freshman Andrew McCrumb who quoted the Baltimore Ravens All Pro Linebacker Ray Lewis.

If you can go into battle 100% confident that your teammate is willing to fight until he has nothing left in order to achieve the common goal of the team then nothing is impossible.”

This week’s “Senior story” time was senior Chris Baldwin who talked about his time at the United States Naval Academy. He talked about how the Navy made him understand that being part of a team means not only doing your part but also helping a teammate who may be struggling to do his part “Because a team is only as strong as its weakest member.”

One of the things we try to highlight during the season is the play in practice and reward the guys who play the best. This weeks weekly award winners are:

  • The best Assist or most unselfish player of the week - Junior Dave Cougler
  • The best Goalie of the week - Junior Andrew Harrington
  • The best Hit of the week - Senior Austin Hale
  • The best Overall player of the week - Sophomores Jake Stocksdale and Ian Hart
  • I look forward to sharing the experience and adventures of the 2009 Stevenson University season. If you have any ideas or things you would like to know please shoot me an email.

    In the mean time keep living the dream!

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    Friday Night Army visits the Carrier Dome of Syracuse at 7:00pm. 
    After winning the Championship last year, and the beat-down Syracuse handed to Providence last week, Army SHOULD be little more than 3rd gear for the Orange.   However, this gets my vote for 3rd game to watch this week as Army always seems to play Cuse very tight. 

    Army Syracuse

    Georgetown at Maryland Saturday at 1:00pm
    Many think this is THE game to watch this week.  I say its #2 on my list. Maryland is 2-0 after easily beating both Presbyterian and Air Force.  This is Georgetown’s season opener. 

    If you got sick of the term “by committee” while watching the NFL this year, don’t watch any Maryland games.  In my opinion, they have the best attack unit in the country.  Why?  The last season Yeatman played (freshman) he put up over 40 points.  Last year, (all freshmen) Catalino had over 40 points, Reed had over 30, and Young had just shy of 30 with 27.  Yeatman and Catalino have started both games; Reed and Young each got 1 start.  11 Maryland players have 2 or more goals, and no one has more than 3.  In fact another 7 players have 1 goal.  Maryland likes to shoot.  They have out shot opponents 121-50. 

    FYI in case you forgot, there are 60 minutes per game…so Maryland has shot more shots than minutes they’ve played.  Want more committees, try goalie by committee.  We knew that coming into this season as Phipps and Carter split time fairly evenly last season.  This season time is right down the middle.  Statistically speaking Phipps has a slightly better track record with a save percentage of 61 for his career compared to Carter’s 58, and that doesn’t include this year’s stats yet (77% and 69% respectively). 

    Georgetown has a very capable attack unit in Craig Dowd, who just keeps getting better, Ricky Mirabito who should be at 100% after suffering an injury in fall ball, and Maryland transfer Brett Weiss.  Georgetown’s advantage may lie in their midfield unit.  Andrew Branaccio has a cannon of a shot. Scott Kocis returns after an injury sidelined him last year. He showed promise as a freshman scoring 7 goals against good teams. 

    The question mark for Georgetown will be their goalie situation.  In the preseason it looked like Jack Davis would get the nod, however none of the 4 goalies the Hoyas are carrying has more than a few minutes experience.

    While all the preseason hype puts this as the game of the week, I don’t think it will be that close.  Most teams schedule an easy opponent the first week or so to wipe the rust off.  Georgetown might have bitten off more than they can chew for their season opener…especially with an inexperienced goalie in the pipes.  Maryland will pepper Davis with tons of shots…and from everywhere.  How he reacts will determine the outcome of the game.  If he can make some saves and keep his composure under fire, this could be a great match up.  If MD gets a few in early, I can see the floodgates opening in the second half.  MD by 6.

    Georgetown Maryland

    Navy visits UNC Friday night at 7:30:  This is my personal pick for game of the week.
    UNC is 2-0 this season with an easy victory over Robert Morris (16-4) and a victory over Denver by an even wider margin of victory (20-7).   Navy is 2-0 as well.  They also have one easy win over VMI (13-5) and a hard win over Ohio State (8-6). 

    UNC out shot Robert Morris but had trouble finding the net in their first week.  Coach Breschi focused on improving their shooting, and UNC responded by scoring on 20 of 40 shots against Denver for an unheard of scoring percentage.  This week UNC focused on special teams, clears and rides, and is looking for a scrappy tough game against Navy. 

    As predicted, Petracca and Bitter are the two top guns on UNC, each with 8 Goals and 5 assists (13points).  Sean Burke is ready to break out as he has yet to tally a goal this season (4 assists).  On the defensive side of the field, UNC has caused 23 turnovers, and keeper Zimmerman has posted a 5.44 GAA but more importantly a save percentage of 64.3%.

    Navy wins with their defense.  In two games, they have only had 24 shots on goal against them, only had 6 penalties, and 11 goals against.  Navy is also outstanding on special teams.  Their EMO is over 83% (5-6), and their man-down is a perfect 100% (0-5). 
    Navy’s offense is spread around as 3 players all have 4 goals a piece (Paul, Conners, Nechanicky).  Navy’s weakness is between the boxes.  They have only won 46% of their face-offs. 

    The key to this game will be Navy’s special teams, and UNC’s shooting.  If  UNC can get off to a fast start, its all over.  Navy can’t compete in a shootout.  If UNC does not get that early jump start, or shoots poorly, Navy’s special teams could prove to be the upset factor.  I am going with UNC on this one by 4.

    Navy UNC

    The 2009 season is finally getting underway.  After a long winter of over 10 feet of snow, it is time to get the boathouse jacket out, the grill cleaned off, and head out to watch some great lacrosse. 

    This valentine’s weekend tell her you lover her with tickets to the UMBC/Delaware game.
    It is my game of the week pick, and will be a great challenge to both teams right from the gate.

    UMBC at Delaware
    Saturday 1:00pm

    UMBC is carrying a heavy load of expectation this year. The Retrievers had their best season ever last year posting a 12-4 record (undefeated in conference play), and falling just 1 goal short against UVA in the 1st round of the NCAA playoffs.

    They look to continue their success this year and go even farther, as they returned 9 of 10 starters…that was until top defenseman Bobby Atwell went down with an ACL injury, and their top attackman Smith is rehabbing his knee.  Smith might not be as effective due to his injury, however, his supporting cast should be able to pick up any slack.  Linemates Matt Latham, and either Chris Jones scored 38 goals last year, and are joined by a very promising freshman in Rob Grimm.  UMBC’s first midfield looks solid with Wimer, Hopmann, and transfer Poillon who combined for 64 goals last season.  UMBC’s starting defense and goalie all return this year, looking stronger than before. 

    The only weakness for UMBC is mental.  They have a habit of playing up or down to their opponents.  Last year, UMBC looked a bit overrated as they were blown out by Delaware (7-15), and Rutgers (4-13).  They also struggled against teams they should have easily handled in close wins over Yale (11-9), Binghamton (6-5 in OT), and Vermont (8-6).   On the flipside, they beat Maryland, OSU, Albany twice, and lost to Hopkins by 2 and UVA by 1. 

    The Blue Hens of Delaware return 19 players from last years squad including standout attackman Curtis Dickson who posted 46 goals last season.  Dickson will need to lead an inexperienced unit that aside from his numbers, combined for 5 goals last season.  Delaware also has the ability to score from midfield with Martin Cahill and Beau Davis a duo that put up 52 points last year.  On Defense, the hens have a very strong close unit  with Pat Dowling and Tim Langmaid.  What hurts their defense is the loss of goalie Tommy Scherr.  Noah Fossner steps between the pipes this season.  In his first start last week against St. Josephs, he allowed only 2 goals on 11 shots.
    It is this unknown of Fossner that is Delaware’s weakness this year.  If he can step in seamlessly to the vacancy between the pipes, Delaware looks to have a solid year.

    This game should be an excellent match up with no blowout this year.  It is going to come down to UMBC’s defense.  Can they stop the Hens’ figure out how to stop Dickson and Cahill who single-handedly scored more than all of UMBC last year?

    I think UMBC is a solid team this year, but I think Delaware still pulls out a marginal win 10-8.

    Tell me what you think?  Who is going to win this game?  What is YOUR pick for the best game to watch?

    Every Thursday night I will be posting previews of the best games to watch.  Stay tuned and follow me through the season.

    If you’re a lacrosse fan, you know that Division III has it all. Just like Division I, D3 players have just as much on their plate, practice just as hard and strive for the same goals. The differences are limited between the two divisions (heck you can throw D2 in the D3 category) but the two main ones are size and speed. Other than that, Division III offers top notch skills, great team play, excited fans and intense rivalries just like the big boys.

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    In an ongoing series of posts, I will try my best not to hurt any feelings and to be as open minded about what to expect where teams stand and the outcomes of big match-ups. This season offers the most parity that we have ever seen due to the growth of the game. Will there be a new champion come Memorial Day weekend? Only time will tell.

    Feel free to critique my picks as you’re entitled to your opinion but I think that they’re dead on.

    Mark’s Preseason Rankings
    1. Salisbury
    2. Gettysburg
    3. Middlebury
    4. Cortland
    5. Stevenson
    6. Ithaca
    7. Roanoke
    8. Lynchburg
    9. Cabrini
    10. Washington
    11. Stevens Tech
    12. Haverford
    13. St. Lawrence
    14. Endicott
    15. Wesleyan
    16. Geneseo State
    17. Bowdoin
    18. Nazareth
    19. Denison
    20. St. Mary’s

    A Little About the Top 5:
    #1: Even though they lost a lot of points, the obvious pick for #1 has to be the Seagulls of Salisbury University. Jim Berkman has been leading the way and the word ‘dynasty’ is the only appropriate term to use for what the Gulls have done the past few years.

    #2: If a team was satisfied with being a constant #2, Gettysburg would take the cake. In the 2000’s, The Bullets have made it to two National Championships and have finished with several #2 overall rankings. However don’t think that Hank’s boys are complacent with being thought of as Number Two. They were one goal away from the dance last year and bring back a heck of a lot of talent back in 2009.

    #3: They started off the millennium in great fashion winning three in a row and getting knocked out of their forth. They’re always around come May and with a lot returning will surely be back at the dance.

    #4:  The Dragons have been on a run lately but slid to #4 due to a lot of graduation. The boys up at Cortland have gotten used to adversity, winning and scoring a lot of goals. Everyone will be eager to see if Cortland reloads or goes into a period of rebuilding this season.

    #5: With a school name change, some huge returnees and some key transfers, Stevenson rounds out the Top 5. The Mustangs return this season with a potent offense, great face off and two-way midfielders and a strong defense that will be a year better. Could they top the Gulls in the CAC? That’s their plan. In 2008, they had a little taste of success but they’ll have to win the big games to be considered the real deal.

    Behind these rankings are some talented athletes. Each team has their fair share, but these are the guys that will bring their teams to the next level and hopefully to Foxboro this May. Now I’m almost positive that there’s more than just five guys who can be POY, but for time and safety’s sake here they are…

    Mark’s Preseason POY Candidates
    1. Kylor Berkman: Mid - SR – Salisbury: D3 POY in 2008 & MOY in 2007
    2. Richard Ford: Att - JR – Stevenson: A do it all attackman on a high powered offense.
    3. Casey Grugan: Att - SR – Cabrini: A great feeder to the inside and can also finish.
    4. Tommy Kehoe: LSM - SR – Gettysburg: Super athlete and a momentum changer
    5. Zach Furshman: G - SR – Gettysburg: If he plays big; big things will happen for the Bullets

    Much like General Sherman’s march to the sea in the Civil War, the sport of lacrosse has come a long way on its mission of invading the South.

    The growth of the sport has taken off in the last few years, mainly in the South and especially in the state of Florida.  The sport has grown by leaps and bounds to the point that the high school state championship program is comprised of more than 70 schools.

    That growth has now continued its upward trend with the addition of women’s lacrosse at Jacksonville University and Florida, along with the first Division I men’s program in the state at JU.

    I have to admit, what little I know of lacrosse is due to watching the men’s Final Four on television.  This may come off as blasphemy, but I have never seen a game live, with the extent of what my eyes have witnessed is 30 minutes of a women’s camp this summer.

    So, here’s what I’ve heard about this lacrosse:

    - It’s the fastest game on grass.  I can see this in what little I’ve seen.  It takes the precision of basketball plays, along with the physicality of football and the stamina of soccer.

    - There’s a major difference between the men’s and women’s game.  That is very evident as well, which I like.  Unlike basketball and soccer where the game is the same, the difference between men’s and women’s game is evident.  The women’s game is finesse and teamwork, rewarding the teams that push the action and stay aggressive.  The men’s game is gritty, hard nosed and physical.   That’s from what little I’ve seen.

    With some of the common perceptions about the sport being held true thus far, how is it going to be accepted in region where it is truly a foreign sport?

    Before we look at lacrosse, I think it’s important to look at some other sports that have attempted to invade the South and take some of the luster off of King Football.

    Soccer, while it is big in the little leagues, has never really taken off past that level.  Hockey, the hot sport of the 1990s when the NHL expanded deep into the South, has seen the luster taken away as several of the Southern teams have experienced problems.

    What gives lacrosse a chance?

    To me, the sport has one thing that soccer and hockey don’t provide – scoring.  The casual sports fan in the South is built with the short attention span – usually around 40 seconds (long enough for a football play), so lots of scoring is important.  On the men’s side, throw in the physicality and its going to be a hot ticket.  On the women’s side, the amount of movement and the rapid scoring opportunities give it a chance as well.

    It’s an exciting time in the South to see this sport take root and begin its growth.  Welcome to the South lacrosse.  We hope you enjoy your stay.

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