Game week: Men’s lacrosse team unit breakdown
(Second 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: The midfield

Strengths: The unit is blessed with good athletes who can use their athleticism while figuring out new coach Guy Van Arsdale’s system. Offensively, the group starts with junior captain Cameron Mann (37 points last season on 18 goals and 19 assists) and junior Donovan Lange (20 points last season and who led the team in game winning goals with two). Sophomore Conor Igoe (three goals, two assists) has shown a lot of improvement. David Goldman, Robbie Wertz an DJ Zymkowitz “are all guys who are figuring it out,’’ according to Van Arsdale. “They’re figuring out to play hard all the time and where their opportunities my come offensively.’’ It’s a group to watch because it could wind up “making some noise for us,’’ Van Arsdale said. One of the overall team strengths will be defense and one of the reasons for that will be the midfielders. 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. “ Its 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.’’

Weaknesses: Depth is limited on the offensive end and inexperience could be a weakness. The Dolphins are only a third-year program so players the team is relying on haven’t played a lot of lacrosse at this level. “They’ve got to cut their teeth quick,’’ Van Arsdale said. “You’ve got to be patient with it and let it grow but make sure it’s growing in way you want it to.’’ The team loses 20 goals and two assists from departed Bobby Stockton and 14 goals and five assists from Rob Moore who transferred.

Outlook: The unit will have to count on its athleticism to get by as it continues to learn the Van Arsdale system. As they gain experience and become more comfortable with their surroundings, there’s every reason to believe the midfielders will have a lot to say about the season’s success.

- Jim Nasella