Game week: Men’s lacrosse team unit breakdown
JU will rely heavily on goalie Pete DeLuca.
JU will rely heavily on goalie Pete DeLuca.
(Last in a series)

The JU men’s lacrosse team opens its season Saturday against Towson at D. B. Milne Field on the JU campus (1 p.m.). This week, a three-part look at the various team units, attack, midfield and defense/goalkeeping.

Today: Defense and goalkeeping

Strengths: This could be the strongest area of the team and midfielders have a lot to do with that assessment. Sophomores Mike McCredie and Will Crenshaw, senior Chip Young and freshman Sam Haus all have flashed in the preseason and the team will be looking to junior John Linnan (12 points in 2011, six goals, six assists) to help lead the unit. Van Arsdale believes short stick midfield defenders are the heart and soul of the defense. “ It’s tough to be a good defensive team if your short stick defenders aren’t very good and I think we have a good core of fast, aggressive, tough guys who have played very well,’’ he said. “That’s one of the things I’m excited about. That’s a good corps to build around. Between the two ends of the field and what we have there’s some good strength there and they keep getting better.’’ Long poles also are something to write home about. Coach Guy Van Arsdale has a good corps down low led by senior captain Jake Ziegler and junior Tanner Gard. “Both have played a fair amount of lacrosse, understand how we want to play and are doing a terrific job of embracing what we’re doing,’’ Van Arsdale said. Junior Stephen Spindler, Ben Shaffer, Charlie Archer and Ben Carter all have flashed in practice. Long stick defenders there’s Tyler Black and Austin Curtis are very athletic and ‘’really figuring it out,’’ according to Van Arsdale.

Weaknesses: Understanding team concept and that defense in a team-unit game. “It’s cliché, but you’re only as good as your weakest link and our guys are starting to get that,’’ Van Arsdale said. “They understand it’s not just you and your man, you have so many responsibilities out there you have to be able to think, read, react and react quickly and aggressively and our guys are getting there. It’s something we have to keep getting better at.’’

Goalkeeping: Sophomore Pete DeLuca is the man and he has been “terrific,’’ Van Arsdale said. DeLuca, who played 848 of 903 minutes last year, has made some changes as to how he’s played technically in the past and is becoming an efficient and “very substantial’’ goal keeper. Van Arsdale believes DeLuca needs to get better at how to take charge and assert himself out on the field vocally as well as stopping the ball. “He’s a very bright guy, a very hard worker, very passionate about playing and all those things are reflected in his play,’’ Van Arsdale said. “He will be the backbone of that defense and that’s part of why we’re excited about the defense.’’

- Jim Nasella