February 13, 2010

UMW Men's Lacrosse to Open 2010 Season Saturday at Va. Wesleyan

 The 2010 men’s lacrosse team enters the spring season with a sense of optimism following a respectable yet disappointing 8-7 campaign in 2009. The Eagles have to replace two of three first line midfielders, the starting defense and one attackman, who were all lost to graduation. A large freshman and transfer class seem capable of filling in the holes and maybe more. The depth at midfield and attack are dramatically improved and the young defense has looked very solid in pre-season. 

 The situation at attack is vastly enhanced. In the running for starting positions are seniors Dan Coats and Brian Meaney, junior Brian MacMahon, sophomores Harry Snyder and Mark Bowler (transfer from Lemoyne College), and freshman Paul Tunick. Junior Travis Floyd and sophomore Johnny Hink (Mercyhurst Northeast) are also capable inside players. Freshman Kyle Johnson is very effective off the ball and lefty Kevin Boilard has good quickness. Clearly, the team has more options than in recent years. The picture will come into focus as this group demonstrates which five or six will emerge as productive, possession–oriented playmakers. 

 At midfield the lack of depth that plagued the Eagles in 2009 won’t be an issue in 2010. Senior captains Ryan Motyka and lefty Brian Deal bring excellent speed and big game experience, and James Fitzella is a workhorse and good off-ball middie. Juniors Evan Weiss and Kohl Meyer are both very quick with solid offensive potential. A corps of freshmen add great athleticism to the mix: Sean Dacey (H.S. All-American), Connor Simmons, Mike Ande, Chris Roos, and Wesley Roberts are all capable of covering ground in a hurry. Simmons and Dacey, in particular, have impressed the coaching staff with their potential to help produce goals, and Ande is extremely quick. 

 On paper, the loss of three starters at the defensive end seems a huge obstacle. Yet in fall scrimmages and winter pre-season, a respectable unit is emerging. Led by senior David Watts, who has been the starting long stick, the close defense is taking shape. Junior Andrew Kohler (6’3”) and sophomores Matt Vasquez (6’2”) and Will Devlin (6’3”) bring size and strength. Sophomores John Tobin and Andrew Becken have improved significantly and freshman Mike Biller (6’2”) gives the unit a third lefty with size. Converted freshman middie Pete McGrath and Junior Brendan Bailey provide athleticism at long stick, along with Watts. 

 Between the pipes the Eagles must contend with the early-season injury to two-year starter Ryan Kleman. As of late January, sophomore Matt Prin is the projected starter. Matt’s improvement from his freshman year has been significant and he is a good defensive general. The current back-up is sophomore Ryan Montgomery, with converted attackman Derek LeComte progressing daily. 

 Overall, there will be many freshmen and sophomores getting playing time. On the 42-man roster, 27 are freshmen and sophomores. The team must make up for some inexperience with its athleticism and improved depth. The prospects for higher offensive output, with more contributors, may help alleviate the departure of the 2009 defense to graduation. If the team can come together, they won’t be an easy target.