JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville University men’s lacrosse team officially began its preparations for the 2014 season on Friday, participating in the first practice of the fall season. Coming off a program-best eight wins in 2013, the Dolphins and Head Coach Guy Van Arsdale will have to replace some key pieces from last year’s team, but remain confident in where things are headed as they begin their first year in the Atlantic Sun after spending the previous three in the MAAC.
“Day One is always exciting,” Van Arsdale said. “It’s fun because you’re bringing together essentially a new team. Certainly we’re bringing guys back, but you’re also adding so many new faces in that the whole personality of the team can change. When you start this, you don’t know where it could end up.”
The Dolphins will have to replace a pair of stalwarts in their lineup for the last four seasons in TJ Kenary and Cameron Mann, but retain a number of offensive options that include seniors David Goldman and Conor Igoe, and juniors Ari Waffle and Rob Wertz. Those four together scored just shy of half of JU’s goals last season.
Defensively, Jacksonville will rely on senior goalkeeper Pete DeLuca, who won the MAAC Defensive Player of the Year award last season. Out in front of him, the Dolphins can line up a number of players that should give opposing offenses fits, including senior defender Tyler Black who led JU with 29 caused turnovers in 2013.
“Today is really just about high energy and high effort,” said Van Arsdale. “If those things are taken care of, execution will follow. We’re not as concerned about how well we handle the ball today. We want the guys to be focused and listening and coachable, but we’re just really looking for hustle and effort. You hope that they come out and play with joy, because you only get one Day One as a team.”
Fall practice will continue throughout the month of October. The regular season will begin in February and – for the fourth year in a row – will include the Moe’s Classic at EverBank Field. The complete schedule will be released later this fall.