Feb. 14, 2014
EASTON, Pa. - The 2014 Lafayette men's lacrosse team returns 22 letterwinners and eight starters from last year's squad. Head coach Jim Rogalski is entering his second season at Lafayette, as the Leopards open the 2014 campaign at Wagner on Saturday afternoon.
Senior Jake Hyatt will open the season as Lafayette's primary goalkeeper after starting 12 games last season. Hyatt finished the year with a 12.98 goals-against average, tallying 160 saves and a .544 save percentage. Sophomore Ben Falcone, who saw action in three games last season making 10 saves, and freshman Matthew Cortese, will back up the senior.
"We have high expectations for Hyatt this season," Rogalski said. "He has the ability to take over a game and we feel that he has the potential to be one of the top goalies in the Patriot League."
The defenders will be led by senior captain Matt Evans and classmate Mac Ahsler. Evans started all 13 games last season picking up 43 ground balls and causing seven turnovers. Ahsler saw action in all 13 games for the Leopards. The senior scooped up 33 ground balls, caused four turnovers and scored a goal and an assist last campaign. Juniors Brandon Doodian and Charlie Kennedy, and freshmen Charles McCooe will battle for the third spot.
"With a senior core in the defense, we are looking for this group to lead the program this season," Rogalski added. "There is a lot of leadership in this group and we are looking for them to shut down the other team."
Long Stick Midfielders
Senior captain Brendan Gover is the most battle tested of the LSMs. The senior played in all 13 games last season picking up 24 ground balls, while causing 11 turnovers for the Leopards. Freshman, Erik Cannon will see significant time at the LSM with Gover this year.
Moving up the field, the defensive midfield unit will be by committee this season, led by junior Matt Confort and sophomores Brendan Dunlap and Brody Smith. Freshman Billy Maltz has been strong this pre-season and will see playing time with this unit. Confort saw time in 12 games last season grabbing five ground balls. Dunlap scored a pair of goals and handed out a pair of assists in 2013, while picking up 16 ground balls. Smith played in two games during his rookie campaign.
"This group has been playing hard all preseason and will be a key to our defense this season."
On offense, senior captain Jake Mann has been leading the group and will look to continue that into the season. He will lineup with classmate John Floyd, junior Cory Scheuerle and two sophomores Morgan Westby and Mac Gallagher.
"We return five in the midfield and are a year bigger and stronger," Rogalski said. "We are excited with the group in the midfield and are looking for big things from them this season."
Mann scored seven goals last season in nine games. Floyd played in all 13 games making seven starts in the midfield, contributing six goals and two assists in 2013 with his biggest goal of the year coming in the first game last year in overtime vs. Georgetown. Also, Cory Scheuerle contributed six goals and two assists and will be leaned upon to make plays. Furthermore, Westby had a strong rookie season firing 10 goals and 10 assists, while Gallagher saw action in every game picking up a pair of goals and a pair of assists.
Senior captain Mike Galione will miss the season with an injury, but his leadership will be vital to the program.
"Galione is a big loss for us," Rogalski stated. "Mike worked extremely hard this off-season to improve his game and he will be hard to replace."
Freshmen Dillon Confalone, Keegan Hickey and Nicholas Buchanan have all showed promise in the preseason and will continue to compete for time in the midfield.
In the attack, the Leopards return most of their offense from last season, powered by juniors Sonny Round and Brian Bock.
"Sonny and Brian have grown together over the past two seasons and are very dangerous attackman." Rogalski said. "Sonny is very explosive and Brian is a natural shooter. We have high expectations for both, as we will depend on them to control the offense and tempo of the game."
Round and Bock led the attack last year with 27 and 24 goals, respectively. The duo also combined for 28 assists. Sophomore Kevin Wanke was the Leopards third leading scorer last year, but may miss this season with an injury.
Sophomore Robert Orazietti and freshmen Kevin Lewis, Jason Sands and Eric Joseph are all fighting for the third attack spot.
"We have great depth in the attack position," Rogalski said. "We are very excited to see what our young guys can do this season and the progress that they will make throughout the year."
The Leopards lost their two faceoff men from last season to graduation and sophomore Adam Broeckaert, a transfer from Mercer, will take a majority of the draws. Freshman Jake McMahon will also be in the mix for Lafayette.
The Leopards will play six home games during the 2014 campaign, with the opener at Wagner on Saturday afternoon. Lafayette opens Patriot League play on Feb. 22 against Colgate at Fisher Stadium. Two Patriot League teams made the 2013 NCAA Tournament, Loyola and Lehigh, as the Leopards look to improve on last season's 3-10 mark.