The Jacksonville men's lacrosse team travels to Orlando on Saturday for an exhibition against No. 3 Notre Dame at Disney's Wide World of Sports. First faceoff is scheduled for 5:00 pm. JU will host Tampa in a scrimmage at Milne Field next Saturday at 1:00 pm. The season officially gets under way for the Dolphins on Feb. 10 at Duke.
NorthFloridaLacrosse.com will be onsite at Disney this Saturday covering the action with a live blog. Follow the link below
Game Preview from Ray Carnicelli (@NorthFloridaLax)
For the second consecutive year the Jacksonville University Dolphins travel to Disney’s Wide World of Sports to prepare for the upcoming season against the University of Notre Dame. In the fall of 2011 the new Dolphin’s coaching staff spent their time adjusting to their new environment, getting to know their player, teaching, evaluating and introducing the players to their style and expectations. To me the trip to Orlando in January of 2012 was like the launch of a newly designed aircraft. There was plenty of planning that took place ahead of time and there was an expectation of success but still some uncertainty. There might be a few minor issues that come to light and the possibility of some anxious moments. A crash was possible but not likely. There was a bit of a mystery in the air leading up to that game. For those of us that attended the scrimmage and for those fans that followed the action via our Live Blog learned right away that the JU Dolphins were talented, focused and ready to compete.
Here we are a year later and yes there may be a few questions that need to be answered but for the most part, those of us who have been following the JU Dolphins know what to expect. Cam Mann, TJ Kennary and Ari Waffle are very good. Quint Miller, David Goldman, Conor Igoe and Rob Wertz could make the leap from good to very good. Peter Deluca, Ty Black and Tanner Gard will lead a stout defense that includes a number of players that have contributed in the past and who will be competing against each other for much sought after playing time.
My point is that as we sit here in January we know a lot more about the 2013 Dolphins than we knew about the 2012 version this time last year. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t questions to be answered or that there aren’t surprises that may arise.
I want to see who amongst the new players will rise above the fray and become impact players; Dakota Rohlin? Chase Miller? Can these players jump right in and make a significant impact? Who will rise to the top in the competition between all of the talented LSMs, D Middies and Close defenders on the JU roster? How will the coaches and players not to mention the referees adjust and adapt to the significant rules changes?
In my recent interview with JU Assistant Coach Jacob Baxter, we discussed some of the challenges the Dolphins faced in 2012 and the areas where improvement must take place to make the move from a middle of the pack team to a MAAC contender. Coach Baxter mentioned the need to be more physical. He felt that the physical strength of the team at times did not measure up to the competition costing the Dolphins ground balls, scoring opportunities and the ability to dictate the tempo. Team strength was a major focus for JU in the off season and we will see early on if the effort to build strength pays off.
My observation from the Duke game in 2012 was that the Dolphins could not overcome the effort by the Blue Devils to overplay the strong hand of some of the Dolphin players. Duke challenged some JU players to go away from their strength and in many cases the Dolphins failed the test. Will the new and returning impact players be able to keep opponents off balance and force them to respect their ability to go in more than one direction?
Follow all of the action to learn the answers to a few pre-season questions and let’s see if there aren’t a few suprises.