Men’s Lacrosse to Prove People Wrong in 2018
EASTON, Pa. – From the moment last season ended to the last drill of preseason, the Lafayette men’s lacrosse team has been motivated by one simple phrase. Prove people wrong.
“We’re putting more emphasis on the process and a step-by-step mentality. We need to have the right work ethic if our ‘prove people wrong’ mantra is going to hold up,” interim head coach Ed Williams said. “That’s kind of been our motto all year, starting from our four senior captains at the top and on down. The guys have done a tremendous job.”
The Leopards, picked to finish ninth in the Patriot League Preseason Poll unveiled on Tuesday, return four of their six top scorers from a year ago. Additionally, all four senior captains, Matt Close, Scott McAvoy, Will McCarthy and James Roberts, have seen a lot of the field over their three seasons and understand what it takes to be successful at this level.
“I couldn’t imagine four other guys being at the top of this thing,” Williams added. “They’ve done great stuff off the field as well as on it. Starting back in the fall and then transitioning into camp, they show up every day with a great attitude and really embrace what we’re trying to do.”
The Leopards’ season is just days away as Lafayette opens on the road at No. 9 North Carolina on Saturday afternoon. Below is a position-by-position breakdown of the 2018 edition of Lafayette men’s lacrosse.
When thinking of the Leopards’ attacking unit, look no further than junior Conor Walters, Lafayette’s leading scorer from a year ago. Walters slotted 19 goals and added six assists for 25 points on the year for the Maroon and White. Additionally, he held the team lead with three man-up tallies and added 16 ground balls on the year.
Joining Walters likely will be sophomore Robbie Garavente, who’s impressed in his second year on College Hill. Garavente saw action in just two games as a rookie, but looks poised for a breakout year this spring.
“Walters and Garavente both had excellent falls and carried that into the preseason,” Williams said. “They’ll be our predominant starters, while freshmen John Natoli and Chris Stach will also fight for a lot of time.”
The clear strength of Lafayette’s 2018 team lies in the midfield with the Leopards’ four senior captains running the show on both ends of the field. McAvoy and McCarthy are the more offensive-minded of the two, finishing last year fourth and fifth in scoring on the team with 11 and seven goals, respectively. Close will jump into the offense on occasion as well, slotting six goals in his junior season, while Roberts will be used in a more defensive role.
“They’ve been tremendous leaders and they have a ton of experience,” Williams said. “They’ll see the majority of the time.”
Sophomore Adam Close and freshmen Bryan Hess and Andrew Robbins have been impressive during the preseason and will likely get their chance as well in this unit. Senior Josh Davis, who comes over to the team after a football career with the Maroon and White, could also see time in a defensive role.
Lafayette has plenty of options to run through the midfield this season as, behind that first group, Williams has nine other guys he can look to for time. Juniors Jake Korus, Sam Friedman, Connar Dehnert and Luke Cummings, sophomores Zane Crandall, Andrew Chase and Tyler Furlong and freshmen Riley Larson and Evan Kieltyka will all compete for time this spring.
At the long-stick spot, sophomore Chris Adamo is trying to back up a stellar rookie season alongside senior George Cloud, who returns for his second season as a starting pole. Adamo was one of the best freshmen in the country last season, picking up a team-leading 61 ground balls and causing 11 turnovers, good enough for third on the squad.
Junior Jeff Sikorsky will continue to be the third option in this unit, seeing action in a pair of games as a sophomore.
Defensively, Williams will look to sophomore Shayne Sharp as the leader of the back line, finishing second on the team in caused turnovers with 20 as a rookie. Playing alongside Erik Cannon ’17 a year go, an all-league player throughout his time on College Hill, Sharp will look to take over more of a leadership role this spring.
Joining Sharp will likely be a competition between a trio of juniors in Jack Lydon, Sean Andrews and Zack Merle. Andrews missed his entire sophomore season with injury a year ago, while Lydon made 11 starts and 13 appearances, and Merle saw action in six games with one start in 2017.
Junior Jonathan Anastos looks like the frontrunner to start game one in goal for the Maroon and White, but the Leopards have set up an open competition throughout the preseason between the four goalies on the roster. Anastos got the most time of any Leopard goalie a year ago, playing in 11 games and over 634 minutes.
The Winnetka, Ill. native carried a 13.53 goals-against average with 131 saves during that time. Anastos allowed 143 goals and finished the season with a save percentage of .478.
Senior Henry Vido, sophomore Wes Moshier and freshman Jake Floyd-Jones provide Williams with a number of options should Lafayette choose to go in a different direction. Vido and Moshier each made two appearances in 2017 with Moshier seeing action in just over 41 minutes, allowing seven goals and making seven saves.
AT THE X
Sophomore John Becker won over the starting faceoff job midway through his rookie season and will be the first option for Williams this spring at the X. Becker won 58 of his 103 chances last season, a 56.3 percent success rate.
Joining Becker is freshman Gabe Smithline, who will get his chance as the second-half of a 1-2 punch for the Maroon and White. Smithline won over 70 percent of his faceoffs during his senior year at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy and will look to carry those efforts into his inaugural collegiate season.
The Leopards will match up with a pair of teams this season that competed in the NCAA Tournament a year ago, traveling to North Carolina to kick off the season on Feb. 3 and battling with Loyola in Baltimore, Md. on Feb. 24.
Following the North Carolina game, Lafayette’s other non-conference opponents include NJIT, Wagner, Manhattan, Cleveland State, Binghamton and Monmouth. The Maroon and White will have four of those games prior to their first conference action, opening up league play at Loyola.
“The league is always tough. Every Saturday is like a dogfight,” Williams concluded. “We have to show up with our best to expect to win.”
The Leopards will host Army, Lehigh, Boston U. and Colgate in Patriot League play at Fisher Stadium, while road conference matchups include Loyola, Navy, Holy Cross and Bucknell. Lafayette hosts the 2018 installment of the Lafayette-Lehigh rivalry on March 17, a 1 p.m. start, and this season’s Patriot League Tournament is slated for April 24-29.