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Men’s Lacrosse 2014 Season Preview
Veteran Binghamton squad returns 29 letterwinners for start of season on Sunday
February 14, 2014Tweet
Contact: Mike Porter (email@example.com)
The 2014 Binghamton men’s lacrosse team is filled with familiar faces for third-year head coach Scott Nelson. Binghamton returns nine starters from last year and has a large senior group of 10 that will be counted on to lead the way as the start of the season fast approaches. This veteran squad has seen its fair share of close competitive games (nine-one goal games combined in 2012-13) and hopes to benefit off those experiences that have motivated them all preseason.
“Last year we really thought we should have been a .500 team or better,” head coach Scott Nelson explained. “We had four one-goal losses last year, which was tough to swallow. Trying to put together a more complete fourth quarter and convert those tight losses to wins has definitely been an emphasis.”
One thing for sure Binghamton won’t have an issue with to begin the season is replacing talent on both sides of the ball. The Bearcats have four of their top five point scorers back and return their entire back line. In addition, Nelson has a variety of options and growing depth to this year’s roster with a bolstered bench for 2014.
“It’s a real advantage having a full senior class this season,” Nelson explained. “The last few years we’ve averaged around 4-5 seniors per year and that was tough because they had a lot of leadership fall on their shoulders. Now, at practice I’ll look up and see seven or eight upperclassmen on the field, helping and teaching the younger players which has certainly allowed us to get a lot done in terms of preparation for the start of the season.”
Fifth-year senior Matt Springer leads the attack group in 2014. Springer had a terrific comeback season after sitting out 2012, scoring a program single-season record of 36 goals in just 14 games. He finished ranked tied for 17th in the entire country at 2.57 goals per game and was consistently a scoring option, collecting a team-best five hat tricks. In just three seasons, Springer holds Binghamton records in goals (94) and points (111). Known as a finisher around the crease, Springer has worked diligently to become a more complete player in 2014.
“He’s a real student of the game. You see him constantly trying to get better at practice and he really asks great questions on how he can improve. We’ve worked hard with him to expand his game this season. In the past, he’s been a player who’s relied upon others getting him the ball. This season, I think you’ll see an added element to his game where he can make plays on his own and for others.”
A large portion of Springer’s goals in 2013 can be attributed by the accurate passing of junior Tucker Nelson. After transferring from Marist following the 2011 season, Nelson fit right in with the offensive scheme here at Binghamton. He set a new water mark for assists at Binghamton, distributing 27 in total a season ago. He finished second on the team with 36 points and had an exceptional rapport with both Springer and senior Brandon Planck who scored 19 goals in 2013.
Both Planck and junior Paul O’Donnell will be important factors up front. Planck has scored 53 goals in three years and is an exciting player off the dodge. O’Donnell has played extremely well in the preseason, increasing his role from a man-up specialist a year ago to someone who could see more time in 2014.
Binghamton lost a pair of influential midfielders in Tyler Perrelle and Shane Warner, but figures to have continued success up the middle. Senior Michael Antinozzi is a three-time America East all-conference selection and has scored at least a point in 31 straight games for the Bearcats. A threat from all over the field, Antinozzi will have the green light to fire early and often.
“We tell Mike (Antinozzi) he has the ability to be a 20-goal, 20-assist guy for us,” Nelson said. “He’s a very good passer, he understands the game very well and obviously has a unique ability to put the ball into the back of the cage.”
Joining Antinozzi in the midfield will be fellow senior and captain Kelly Donigan. The Skaneateles, N.Y. native has been a consistent performer and has seen improvement throughout his entire career at Binghamton. He scored a career-best 10 goals in 2013, including a stretch where he tallied a goal or more in five straight contests.
Two-year starter J.T. Hauck should be in the mix at midfield as well. Hauck had five goals and four assists in 2013, giving him 20 goals and 18 assists for his career. Another player to watch out for on offense is Emmett O’Hara. The Bay Shore, N.Y. native had a two-goal game against UMBC in the 2013 season finale.
Long stick midfielder Garrett Augustyn will be a force in the midfield helping out the back line. Augusytn, an All-Academic selection last season, led the Bearcats with 18 caused turnovers as a junior. Sophomores Brian Martin, T.J. DiSanto, Zach Scaduto and Mitch Rick will all see time in the midfield this season as well.
On the faceoff, Alex Doerflein had a breakout season in 2013. Before an injury sidelined him for the final three games, Doeflein had one of the more successful campaigns in school history from the ‘x’. He had a win percentage of .546 and was eighth in the entire country with 7.55 ground balls per game.
Freshman Dan Mazurek from Ringwood, N.J. will also be a factor on the faceoff. A very talented newcomer, Mazurek won 70 percent of his faceoffs during his senior season at Don Bosco Prep.
In what Coach Nelson believes is his team’s strongest suit, the defense has a good mixture of experience and cohesiveness that will prove valuable. The defense allowed fewer than 10 goals on nine occasions last season and finished ranked first in the country in man-down defense.
“Our defensive has looked terrific in both the fall and our first two scrimmages this season. You know what you’re going to get outta this group. They play both hard and smart out there which is a luxury to have.”
Senior Greg Cove has appeared in every game since first appearing at Binghamton in 2011, making 38 starts during that time. Cove, a two-time all-conference pick, is a heady player who usually draws the assignment of covering the opposing teams’ top offensive threat.
Senior Shawn Needham started all 14 games a season ago and finished third on the team with 12 caused turnovers. Rounding out the back line is All-Rookie and second-team America East selection Chris Bechle. A strong athlete from Fairport, N.Y., Bechle was the lone freshman starter on Binghamton last year.
Junior Max Schefler earned the starting job a year ago and completely took advantage of his opportunity. Schefler had a spectacular season between the pipes, breaking a single season record with 168 saves. He ranked 12th in the country in save percentage (.564) and was tops in the conference stopping 12 shots per game.
“We relied a lot on Max (Schefler) last year and he certainly delivered,” Nelson explained. “He’s an athletic kid who’s capable of making a lot of difficult saves. He works well with the defense, communicating and keeping them in sync.”
Backing up Schefler will be sophomore Eric Fischer and local product Tanner Cosens. Fischer was highly touted coming out of Irondequoit HS as an All-Section and All-County player in 2012. Cosens, a graduate of Maine Endwell, earned US Lacrosse All American honors as a senior last year.
Once again, Binghamton will have a challenging schedule ahead in 2014. Their non-conference schedule begins with their opener on the road at Sacred Heart on Feb. 16. Their opener on Sunday is the earliest Binghamton lacrosse has opened up to start a season.
Games to circle on the calendar this non-conference season include home games against #16/18 Cornell (Feb. 25), Colgate (March 15) and Air Force (March 23). In addition to six non-conference home games, the Bearcats will travel to the Carrier Dome to take on #1 ranked Syracuse on April 2.
America East play begins on April 29 at Hartford. The Hawks were picked a spot below Binghamton in the America East Preseason Poll. The Bearcats will host both UMBC (Apr. 6) and Stony Brook (Apr. 19), while closing out the regular season at defending AE champion Albany. The Great Danes are ranked 10th in the country and return three All-Americans (Lyle, Miles and Ty Thompson) from last year’s team that led the nation in scoring (15.9 goals per game).
The America East Championship will be held at Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium for the second straight year. Semifinals will take place on Thursday, May 1 and the finals which can be seen on ESPNU will be on May 3.