FRIDAY, MARCH 18, 2011
Men's lacrosse to play first-ever conference game on Saturday
Both players and coaches said before the season how they relished the opportunity to compete in a conference. After seven non-league tune-ups, the JU men’s lacrosse team will finally have the chance to play the first-ever conference game in program history when it visits Canisius at the Demske Sports Complex on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Both the Dolphins (2-5) and the Griffs (0-4) will be looking to win its Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference opener. JU played the inaugural 2010 season as an independent before joining the MAAC this year.

“Since the preseason, it’s always been our goal to compete for a conference championship and we’re excited to start MAAC play against a talented opponent in Canisius,” JU head coach Matt Kerwick said. “We’ve been preparing for league games all season and we look forward to the challenge.”

Conference results are used as the primary criteria for MAAC standings and tournament seedings and JU is hoping to get hot at the right time. The Dolphins will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak and end a three-game road trip with momentum following losses to Mount St. Mary’s and Rutgers.

Canisius will be aiming for its first win of 2011 after starting the campaign with losses to Bucknell, Harvard, Binghamton and No. 14 Cornell. The Griffs dropped a 14-7 decision to the Big Red in its previous game. Like the Dolphins, Canisius will try and get on track when the games take on greater significance in conference play. Simon Giourmetakis will try and lead that charge after posting a team-leading five goals through Canisius’ first four games. Nick LoCoco is second on that list with four goals.

But JU can counter with offensive threats. Max Gurowski continues to be one of JU’s best play-makers. The junior attacker has 12 assists, which is five more than the closest teammate. Gurowski can also finish, scoring five goals, including a goal and four assists for a career-best five-point effort at Mount St. Mary’s.

Despite starting just two of the Dolphins first seven games, senior midfielder Bobby Stockton already notched a pair of four-goal games through JU’s first five contests, including a career-high five-point effort against Air Force. Stockton torched the Falcons for four goals and an assist, matching his goal production from the season-opening effort against Georgetown. Stockton leads JU with 14 goals and is second with 15 points. Two of his scoring strikes came during man-up situations.

Sophomore attacker Owen Green already has exceeded his 2010 output with six goals through his first seven games in the new campaign. Green had a three-point weekend in Denver’s Face-Off Classic, adding two assists against the Pioneers and a goal in a win over Air Force. He had four goals all of last season.

Freshman William Vogt isn’t letting the nerves show in his first collegiate season. The first-year midfielder is emerging as the Dolphins faceoff ace, winning 63-of-108 for a .583 percentage. Vogt has nearly 75 percent of his team’s faceoff wins this season, enabling the middie to collect a Dolphins-leading 29 ground balls.

Vogt is coming off his best effort of the season from the faceoff circle, dominating by winning 13-of-16 faceoffs against Rutgers’ Salvatore Carfaro.

JU will also try and capitalize on man-up situations. The Griffs have allowed opponents to score on half of its opportunities, which can be good news for a Dolphins squad that has struggled playing with an advantage, going just one for its last 12 in man-up chances. Its opponents have been successful in similar situations, scoring on six of its last nine chances. Canisius has also struggled in that area, going 1-for-7 playing up a man while allowing eight goals on 16 penalties.

Goalkeeping could be the difference in the contest. JU freshman Peter DeLuca earned the opening day starting job for JU and has seized the opportunity in playing all but 44:22 in the cage this season. DeLuca beat out two more seasoned goalies before the opener and has rewarded the move with 76 saves and a .516 save percentage.

DeLuca posted 15 saves and allowed a stingy seven goals despite facing 50 shots against Air Force. That was a career-best mark until DeLuca made 20 saves and faced 51 shots from RMU. The netminder has 51 saves the past four games. DeLuca will oppose probable starter Sean Callahan, who is 0-4 and carries a .412 save percentage and a 12.76 GAA into the weekend.

- By Brian Bohl