THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2011
Men's Lacrosse: 2011 Season Outlook
Strong play from the underclassmen will help determine how far the JU men’s lacrosse team can go as the program enters the 2011 season. Just 10 of the roster’s 48 total players are juniors or seniors, allowing head coach Matt Kerwick the opportunity to develop a championship-contending team and improve off a 6-7 showing in 2010.
The Dolphins racked up numerous highlights in its inaugural season. Top among the milestones was a triple-overtime victory over nationally ranked Denver for the first win in program history. Twenty-six letterwinners return to try and help JU move forward.
“We have high expectations for this group,” Kerwick said. “We were in every game last year and it’s time to take the next step and be even better.”
After playing last year as an independent, the Dolphins will now be chasing a conference championship by joining the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Before even playing a game in the MAAC, JU was selected fourth in the preseason coaches poll while sophomore middie Cameron Mann, junior defender Jake Ziegler and fellow sophomore back Corey Lovrich were named to the preseason All-MAAC team.
JU returns four of its top-six goal scorers from an offense that averaged 12 goals per game. Leading that group is sophomore attacker TJ Kenary, who scored 20 goals and racked up 28 points in starting all 13 games in his first collegiate season. Sophomore Owen Green will be looking for extended playing time after scoring four goals and adding four assists in playing 12 of 13 games as a reserve. Junior Max Gurowski appeared in 12 games and scored one goal as a sophomore and will be looking for more time at attack.
Dan Jones enters his sophomore season with momentum after scoring two goals. James Trentini earned valuable game experience as a freshman, playing in nine games and chipping in two goals.
A slew of talented freshmen round out the unit and will look to impress the coaching staff for playing time, starting with the season opener on Feb. 20 in the Sunshine Classic against Georgetown at EverBank Field. First-year forwards Danny Meyer, David Goldman, Mac Fife, Kyle Rebman, Will Tanner and Christian McLean are also waiting in the wings.
“Our attack has some big-time players,” Kerwick said. “We’re looking at a core of five players and we’re trying to find the best combination.”
The midfielders remain the driving force behind JU’s quick-strike scoring offense. Mann showed his worth as a two-way player last year, scoring 18 goals with 17 assists while collecting a team-high 57 ground balls. Mann, who added a game-winning goal, also provided a threat in man-up opportunities, scoring six goals in those circumstances.
Junior middie Jeremy Tissenbaum joined Mann in starting every game in 2010, recording 15 goals, eight assists and 18 ground balls. Sophomore Donovan Lange also was a reliable middie, scoring 15 goals in 13 starts to give JU dependability on each end of the field.
Fellow sophomores Mike Wallenhorst and Dan McNulty are both back to give the Dolphins two experienced faceoff men. Wallenhorst won a team-high 130 faceoffs, posting a .568 winning percentage. McNulty contributed 43 faceoff wins himself and added four goals.
Sophomore middie John Linnan filled a valuable reserve role, scoring four goals and six ground balls in playing in all 13 games. Alex Everett also added scoring punch off the bench, adding five goals and three assists. Chip Young and Culver Bradbury provided valuable reserve minutes as midfielder last year and will try and earn extended playing time this year.
Newcomer Robert Moore, along with second-year middie Barry Hillyer, will also try and fortify a position of strength for the Dolphins. The unit will also be boosted by William Vogt, Bobby Stockton, Dillon Zweifel, David Whelan, Conor Igoe, Will Crenshaw, Jesse Noll, Dallas Humphries and Jack Morrison.
“I’d match our first midfield group with anybody. They all can play,” Kerwick said. “We expect them to have a huge impact in every game.”
A disciplined defense aided JU in building a 156-147 goal-differential while posting 469 ground balls. Lovrich registered 23 ground balls and 10 caused turnovers. Ziegler, a junior, is coming off a year in which he forced 16 turnovers and picked up 22 ground balls.
JU will utilize a mix of youth and experience to round out the backfield. Tanner Gard, Garrett Swaim, AJ Butler, Jeff Camarra, Thad Foster, Tyler Black, Ronnie Hoffman, Mike McCredie, Stephen Spindler and DJ Zymkowitz also will vie for playing time as defensemen.
“I’m pleased with the defense now,” Kerwick said. “Last year, we knew we needed to score 15 goals a game to win. This year is different. We feel like we have good depth there and can stop people.”
Brad Hester, who was JU’s primary goalkeeper in 2010, is now an assistant coach, leaving four players to compete for the position. Junior Brendan Niklason appeared in six games off the bench last year, making eight saves while allowing two goals on 15 shots faced.
Junior Alex DiScala saw limited action in four appearances, making two saves on six shots faced. Kris Sterzin enters the campaign as a red-shirt freshman and true freshman Peter DeLuca will try and become the No. 1 goalkeeper.
“It’s a competition right now,” Kerwick said. “Hopefully one guy grabs a hold of the position, but right now we’re going to give Pete the nod.” In addition to facing Georgetown at the home of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars in the first game, the Dolphins will face talented competition in the both the schedule’s non-conference portion and in MAAC play.
Back-to-back road games against Denver and Air Force in Colorado mark a big early season test while the Dolphins will face defending-national champion Duke in the regular season finale. JU will also battle reigning MAAC champion Siena at home in April as part of six conference games overall.
“We try to load up on the non-conference games and play the best teams in the country,” Kerwick said. The guys want to play them, that’s how we get better. Playing these good teams early will show us the level we need to be at to win our league.
“It’s a big deal to be in a conference. Having that conference play and championship to build up throughout the season, that really keeps the guys in it. They’re excited for it.”
- By Brian Bohl