TUESDAY, MAY 10, 2011
Men's lacrosse 2011 season recap
The JU men’s lacrosse proved it could make a successful transition from an independent school to competing a well-respected conference, winning three league games and advancing to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship tournament in a landmark 2011 season.

JU finished the campaign 5-10 overall and 3-3 against the MAAC, earning a spot in last weekend’s conference tournament before falling to eventual-champion and top-seeded Siena in the semifinals. Head coach Matt Kerwick’s team advanced to the postseason in just the second year of the program, building off a near .500 (6-7) finish in the team’s inaugural 2010 season.

“We were excited to advance to the MAAC conference tournament in our first year as a league member,” JU coach Matt Kerwick said. “The staff and team learned some valuable lessons this season that will help our program moving forward. I know we have some disappointed young men in our locker room who have learned that league play and competing at the highest level of collegiate lacrosse takes a great deal of effort and commitment throughout the year.

“I am confident that the team will have a great deal of motivation this summer to come back stronger and ready to compete for a MAAC championship in 2012.”

While playing league games prove to be a challenge, nothing on the field was nearly as important as what happened to JU sophomore defender and co-captain Corey Lovrich, who is currently undergoing treatment after being diagnosed with colon cancer. Lovrich was still able to provide a lift to his teammates during the tournament in Buffalo, N.Y., traveling with his family from Long Island to support his teammates.

Thanks to a fundraiser and support from the entire JU team, the campus community and the general public, the Corey Lovrich Medical Fund has raised thousands of dollars to help the family cover medical expenses.

On the field, the Dolphins posted wins against MAAC-opponents Canisius, Detroit and VMI, helping to qualify for the playoffs. Kerwick’s team also showed poise playing away from Jacksonville, finishing 3-4 in road games.

A roster that featured just three seniors displayed a scoring prowess that should bode well for the future with sophomore attacker TJ Kenary posting a team-leading 21 goals. Kenary became the fourth player in Dolphins history to crack the 20-goal plateau.

Sophomore midfielder Cameron Mann improved on a stellar first season, setting a career high with 37 points (18 goals, 19 assists) to earn first-team all-MAAC honors and a place on the MAAC All-Tournament team, joining defender Jake Ziegler as JU’s two selections on the squad.

Ziegler, a junior, was one of three defensemen to be named to the all-conference first team, joining Canisius’ Dan Coates and Siena’s Duncan Seale.

Ziegler has been a leader on and off the field. The Webster, N.Y. native was one of just three JU players to start every game this season, causing 18 turnovers and collecting 44 ground balls and was the team’s lone on-field captain after Lovrich’s illness was diagnosed.

JU is expected to return its leading goal scorer, point-getter and top-two defenders in caused-turnovers with Ziegler and sophomore Stephen Spindler (21 caused-turnovers). The Dolphins should also enjoy stability between the pipes as freshman Peter DeLuca won the pre-season open competition and never looked back, starting every game for the Dolphins in posting a .508 save percentage.

DeLuca twice logged 20 saves, including a tremendous effort in holding the defending national-champion Duke to just 10 goals in a 10-6 win for the Blue Devils in JU’s regular season finale. The first-year netminder also made 20 saves against Robert Morris.

The Dolphins also expanded its reach in the First Coast area, broadening its appeal by playing three nationally ranked teams. The first contest set a JU record and was one of the most well-attended men’s lacrosse regular season games of the decade when the Dolphins played then-No.15 Georgetown in front of 8,152 fans in the inaugural Moe’s Southwest Grill Sunshine Classic at EverBank Field, home of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.

JU has a promising feature as only one of JU’s six total double-digit goal scorers is guaranteed not to return. Senior midfielder Bobby Stockton concluded his collegiate career with a goal against Siena in the semifinals, giving him 20 on the season. Stockton was named to the all-conference second team for his efforts.

While Stockton concluded his tenure, JU saw plenty of talented players commence their NCAA careers. Freshman Rob Moore won two “Rookie of the Week” awards in scoring 14 goals and adding five assists despite making just nine starts.

Returning players also increased their roles en route to career-best seasons. Junior Max Gurowski tallied a Dolphins-best 20 assists and was third on the team with 26 points, shattering his previous high of five assists.

Sophomore Owen Green and Donovan Lange both logged 14 goal-seasons as well. Defensively, Tanner Gard joined Ziegler and Spindler as three mainstays on the backline. Gard started 15 games, collecting 26 ground balls while finishing plus-4 in his turnover ratio.

“We have veteran leadership returning next year and our core group returns after learning what it takes to succeed at this level over the course of the last two seasons,” Kerwick said We are looking forward to taking on another excellent group of teams next spring.”

Overall, the Dolphins entered the week second nationally in ground balls per game (39.33) and sixth in caused turnovers with 9.67 per contest.