Men's Lacrosse | NESCAC lacrosse season preview
Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 09:03
As NESCAC lacrosse play opens up this weekend, here is a quick guide to who’s gone, who’s back, and who the Jumbos will have to watch in Div. III lacrosse’s most competitive conference.
Amherst made waves last season by returning more than 90 percent of its scoring, but then faltered, finishing just two games above .500 overall and a mediocre 5-5 in the NESCAC.
This year, Amherst must do without graduated quad-captain midfielders Alex Fox and Will Reed, as well as attackmen Cole Cherney and Evan Redwood. Redwood and Cherney started every game for the Lord Jeffs last season, combining for 87 points. The loss of starting keeper Sam Jakimo is another hit — he will be replaced between the pipes by junior Greg Majno.
On the other hand, the Lord Jeffs have former NESCAC Rookie of the Year Devin Acton back for his junior campaign. In 2012, Acton led the squad in scoring with a monstrous 44 goals and 10 assists. This year, he is rejoined by classmates and capable midfielders Aaron Mathias and Duncan Morrissey, as well as by experienced defenders Danny Gold, Carl Lampe, Matt Cahn, and Tony Argibay.
At the same time, Amherst itself is the perfect example of how returned talent and scoring ability does not directly translate into team successes. While Acton has a huge amount of talent and is poised for another dominant season, the Lord Jeffs must play a more complete game and find strong play from their defense in order to help Acton win the big games.
For the Bobcats, this season presents an opportunity to improve in the standings, where they have finished as one of the bottom two teams every spring since 2007. Bates notched just two conference victories last season, and finished with a dismal 4-9 overall record.
Though Bates’ leading scorer Jason Hichborn has departed, the Bobcats return their next three leading offensive producers in Kyle Starr, Rob Highland, and Jack Strain. However, this is less impressive considering that the Bobcats finished last in the NESCAC in goals and assists per game last season, and not a single Bates scorer ranks among the conference leaders. The Bobcats also posted the lowest shot percentage and highest number of turnovers per contest in 2012, demonstrating an inability to convert possessions into scores.
The departures of last year’s tri-captain defensemen Kevin Helm and Mark Murphy, pole Lucas Denning, and netminder Adam Scharff at the defensive end mean a significant hit to the team’s roster. While Scharff’s departure may open the doors for keeper Charlie Kazarian to make an impact, the junior may be faced with some tough looks as he plays behind a young and largely inexperienced defensive set.
No. 16 Bowdoin
For the first time in 23 seasons, the Polar Bears will not be led by former head coach Tom McCabe. McCabe, who retired from the position after the 2012 campaign, was replaced by Jason Archbell from the University of Pennsylvania, who has immediately imposed strict regimens for his players in order to familiarize them with his coaching style.
Bowdoin, which reached last year’s NESCAC championship game against the Jumbos, is never a squad to be underestimated, and it consistently turns out talented rosters with Div. I size. This season, the Polar Bears bring back leading scorer Billy Bergner, a senior who notched 42 points last season, and classmate Patrick Lawlor who finished his junior campaign with 31 points.
However, Bowdoin has suffered the losses of midfielders Mark Flibotte and Keegan Melhorn, as well as go-to face-off man Brendan Hughes from X. While Polar Bears return poles Dylan Hannes and Max Rosner, both of whom started all 20 games for Bowdoin, they lose their anchors in close defender Matt Egan and goalie Chris Williamson.
Despite heavy losses, Bowdoin is among the best in the NESCAC at restocking its roster. And while a new coaching dynamic can cause problems for teams, McCabe did well to recruit big talent before leaving the program, so expect the Polar Bears to shrug off adversity this season as they make a run for the NESCAC title that was almost theirs in 2012.