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Men’s Lacrosse Poised For Success In 2013 Campaign
Bearcats' season-opener vs. Siena set for Saturday at 1 p.m.
February 22, 2013
Contact: Mike Porter (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Entering the 2013 spring season, expectations have been raised for the Binghamton University men’s lacrosse program. This year’s roster features a conference-best 29 letterwinners who return, including six players who were mainstays in the starting lineup a year ago. Now in his second year as head coach at Binghamton and 26th season overall coaching in college lacrosse, Scott Nelson feels confident in the overall makeup of his team who looks to make steady improvements from a team who finished 4-9 a season ago.
“One thing we have stressed to the guys is consistency,” head coach Scott Nelson said. “Too many times last season we would score 12-13 goals in a game one day and then 6 or 7 the next. This year with our balance I think we will be a much more consistent group.”
A few reasons spirits are high inside the Bearcat locker room could be directly related to both experience and the increasing depth across the board. BU returns their top five scorers from a season ago and will have another huge addition in red shirt junior attack Matt Springer. Springer, who led the team in scoring both in 2010 and 2011, sat out all last season with a foot injury. With a knack for finding the back of the net, Springer should bolster an offensive unit that despite his absence scored a program-record 9.54 goals per game a season ago.
“It’s really big for us to have Matt back for the year,” Nelson said. “He’s a big strong kid who not only will score goals for us this season, but will also be a strong mentor for the younger guys. He has a great temperament on the field, doesn’t get too high or too low out there and is a calming influence on our team.”
Antinozzi leads a potent midfield unit
One of Binghamton’s clear strengths rests in their midfield play. In 2012, the starting line of Michael Antinozzi, Tyler Perrelle and J.T. Hauck combined for an impressive 72 goals and 45 assists. Antonizzi, a junior who hails from Fallston, Md., had one of the best seasons in school history tallying 32 goals and 46 points (both school records). Antinozzi was one of two Binghamton players, the other being defender Ben Waldron, to make the first team of the America East all-conference squad. His 2.46 goals per game ranked him third in the America East conference and 16th overall in the entire nation.
“Obviously Mike (Antinozzi) had an outstanding sophomore year for us in 2012. He broke the school record in goals and was asked to shoulder a lot of offensive responsibility. With a diversity of scorers on the roster this season, I believe he will have some of that pressure relieved and teams won’t be able to key in on him so easy. We expect him to be an even more efficient scorer in 2013. ”
Alongside Antinozzi, senior captain Tyler Perrelle also had a 2012 season to hang his hat on. The speedy midfielder scored 25 goals and dished out 17 assists, scoring a point in all 13 games a season ago. In fact, he has recorded a point in 20 straight games for Binghamton, which ranks him 11th amongst active players’ streaks. Recently, Perrelle was nominated for the Teewaraton Award Watch List, just the second BU player to be named to this prestigious list (the other being Ben Waldron). As one of the five seniors on the team, Perrelle has not only stepped up his play on the field but also as a leader off it.
“In addition to our other three captains, Ty (Perrelle) has done a good job of leading. We know what he can do out on the field, now he’s taking it a step further with his impact in the locker room.”
Rounding up the starting lineup will be sophomore J.T. Hauck. Hauck had a standout rookie season in 2012 with 29 points (15 g, 14 a). The former high school All-American displayed strong play making abilities, which was evident when he recorded three or more points in five games for the Bearcats. Hauck was rewarded for his excellent play with a spot on the All-Rookie team.
Sophomore Kelly Donigan has developed into a strong contributor in the midfield as well for coach Nelson. Donigan tallied seven goals and six assists in 2012 and uses his strong 6-foot-3, 200 pound frame to bully and push his way into the last offensive third of the field.
Defensively, both LSM Garrett Augustyn and short stick midfielder Shane Warner will be mainstays on the field for the Bearcats. Augustyn, who started 11 of 13 games a season ago on defense, makes a slight transition in his third year with the program. He caused 13 turnovers (third on the team) and scooped up 16 ground balls in 2012. Warner played in all 13 games a season ago, making three starts. A strong player off the ground, Warner corralled 23 ground balls (fourth on the team).
Increased depth expected on Binghamton attack
Last season, the Bearcats had some holes to fill at the attack position. With the injury of Matt Springer and the departure of graduating seniors, BU had to mix and match at the attack position in 2012. This year, things seem to be much different as Springer returns and a host of experienced players and newcomers look to add stability on the front line.
Back from a red shirt season, junior goal scorer Matt Springer headlines the attack. The Hamburg, N.Y. native recorded 29 goals in each of his first two seasons in a Binghamton uniform, including a 42-point season in 2010. Nelson has high hopes that Springer will help improve the diversity of the team’s offensive production.
“Our guys love playing with Matt because he gets open and finishes plays,” Nelson explained. “He’s like the great jump shooter in basketball, if you’re feeding him you could end up with a lot of assists on any given night.”
Another player who has impressed during his first two seasons with the program has been Brandon Planck. Planck tallied 21 goals (third on the team) and eight assists last year as a sophomore. As the primary target on the front line, Planck had some huge scoring outbursts in 2012, namely a pair of five-goal games against Canisius and UMBC (both wins). Noted as a tough and hard nosed player, Planck thrives attacking the goal mouth.
Sophomore transfer Tucker Nelson will see a lot of time on the right side of attack for BU this season. Nelson spent one year at Marist in 2011, scoring three goals in seven contests. The crafty right hander has complimented lefties Springer and Planck on the front line in preseason, meshing well in his first year with the program.
Sophomore Paul O’Donnell played in all 13 games in 2012 as a newcomer, scoring five goals alongside four assists in his first collegiate action. O’Donnell was a standout on Binghamton’s man-up unit, scoring two goals on the year. Local product and current junior Kyle Bakker also saw some time in 2012. The Chenango Valley grad played in 10 games, making four starts near the end of the season.
Newcomers Mitch Rick and Bucky Desadier will also be players to watch out for in 2013. Rick, a product of Watertown, N.Y., is a big body at 6-foot-2 and 190 lbs. At Watertown HS he was a prolific scorer, tallying 176 career points—including 103 in his senior year (67 goals and 36 assists). Desadier comes to Binghamton from Conroe, Texas where he was a US Lacrosse High School All-American. He scored an astonishing 46 goals and 51 assists in 21 games last year for Houston Christian High School.
Trio of juniors solidify Bearcat backline
With the graduation of perennial all-conference performer Ben Waldron and three-year starter Ryan Button on defense, Binghamton will need a collective unit of performers to step up on the backline. Last season, the Bearcats were atop the conference in caused turnovers per game (8.31) but were middle of the road when it came to goals allowed (11.46). In 2013, a cast of experienced and young talent alike will comprise the defensive side of the ball for BU.
“We need the entire group of defenders to work well as a unit to be successful this season,” Nelson said. “So far, I think the guys have stepped up and have meshed well together and that’s what we are going to need to stay competitive and win games.”
Returning after being named to the second team all-conference squad is junior captain Greg Cove. Cove started all 13 games in 2012, corralling 23 ground balls and 12 caused turnovers. The Rockville Centre, N.Y. native has been a contributor from the moment he stepped on campus is 2010, starting 24 of 28 games as a defender.
Freshman Chris Bechle has emerged as one of Binghamton’s top defenders in just his first season. Bechle, a highly touted recruit from Rochester, has impressed both coaches and players alike with his ability to pick up the college game. Rounding up the starting defensive unit will be junior Shawn Needham. Needham, like Cove, is also a player who has seen extended time in his first two seasons with BU. Last season, he started a pair of games for Binghamton against Colgate and Hartford.
Other players who saw time last season for coach Nelson include junior Gregg Fraistat, and sophomores Matt Kopp and Frank Gluchowski. Freshmen George Diegnan, Matt DeLea and Brian Martin have shown glimpses of strong play in practice and may be options for Nelson off the bench.
Schefler wins starting goalie battle
After seeing no action in his first two collegiate seasons, junior goalkeeper Max Schefler has opened some eyes this season. With his standout play in both fall ball and in recent scrimmages, Schefler earned the starting nod against Siena on Saturday (Feb. 23).
“Max (Schefler) has impressed the coaching staff this preseason. He has been very consistent and tough in net for us and has been a strong voice leading our defense in the early going. All three goalies have shown us they can step in and contribute so it will be a nice competition throughout the season.”
Behind Schefler in terms of the depth chart will be senior Kraig Heston. Heston, who saw action in four games last season, is certainly capable of manning the net. In 2011, he had a sparkling season, allowing an average of just 7.79 goals per game, which was tops in the America East conference and ninth in the entire nation. Last season, the four-year letterwinner compiled 23 saves and a GAA of 11.84.
Rounding up the goalie spot will be freshman Eric Fischer. Fischer, like Heston is a native of Rochester and has a strong high school resume. A two-year starter at Irondequoit HS, Fischer guided his team to a 19-3 senior season and was awarded with a US academic All-American honor.
Newcomers to take on face-off duty
Much like on defense, there will be some alterations on the face-off for BU. Last season, Binghamton relied upon seniors Chris Cook and Jeff Donigan to take a majority of their face-offs and they were quite successful. The duo won just over 49 percent of their tries on the season (second best mark in the America East). This season a group of three players will help fill the void left by Cook and Donigan.
Junior Alex Doerflein and freshmen Mitch Labianca and Joey Dalfo will be the trio expected to take face-offs in the beginning of the year. All three have yet to see action at that position in a collegiate game so that remains a question mark for head coach Scott Nelson.
“One of the spots we will have to grow up fast is on the face-off,” Nelson explained. “It’s a challenge we will face early in the season, but we expect these guys to adjust and improve as the season goes along.”
Difficult Schedule Awaits
Binghamton is scheduled to play 14 regular season games this season, with seven split at both home and away venues. Headlining the non-conference spread will be matchups against top-10 programs Cornell (No. 5/7), Penn State (No. 8/9) and Colgate (No. 10/10).
The Bearcats also feature MAAC contenders Siena (Feb. 23) and Canisius (April 15) this season, mixed in with games against NCAA tournament regulars Hobart (March 2) and Delaware (March 9).
The America East schedule begins on March 30 when BU welcomes in preseason conference favorites Albany. The Great Danes are currently ranked 16th in the nation after knocking off Syracuse in double OT at the Carrier Dome. Binghamton alternates between home and away games throughout the conference, culminating with senior day on April 20 against Vermont and lastly on the road against UMBC the following weekend.