The 2012 season is here and we wanted to work closely with college programs to bring a part of the excitement to you. Throughout the 2012 season we will highlight lacrosse programs on our space for all of our readers to follow. Player blogs serve as a unique outlet for programs to showcase their season as it develops, plus highlight everything they have to offer a student-athlete. In contrast, families and fans get a glimpse into the program’s athletic and academic regimen.
Jason Coppersmith, Senior Defenseman from Boca Raton, Fla.
Week of May 6th –May 13th, 2012
Let me start by apologizing for not getting an entry out last week. I know many people were disappointed, Guy Madison and Tim Ledwick probably the most. Finals and papers took their toll on me and I was sadly forced to focus all of my writing ability on school. That is not the case this week though!
Senior day was everything I had hoped for and more. Maryland came to Hamilton all set for a First Round home game in the tournament and left with a loss and having to play at Lehigh the following week. For the senior class, it was one of the best days of our time here at Colgate, and it set up a great Sunday night. Before going there though, I have to talk about our banquet.
We met as a team with our families downtown at the Palace Theater for the 2012 Colgate Lacrosse Banquet that Saturday night. Coach Murphy led the ceremony and did an excellent job of it. He talked about our team’s accomplishments and went through each senior and their contributions to the team. Next, Tim Ledwick and Bill Gordon, parents of seniors Kevin Gordon and Jeff Ledwick, got on stage for some comedic relief and to thank everyone for four wonderful years. Coach Murphy then retook the reigns and started to hand out the team awards that were voted for by the team.
He first handed out the Danny Hagerman Alumni Award to John Donnally for his continual attitude, commitment, and work ethic during the year. Next up was the Rookie of the Year Award that went to freshman attackman Ryan Walsh; we asked for a speech, but it wasn’t allowed. Coach Starsia then got up and handed out the Tyler Kopp Memorial Award for the defensive MVP of the year. Coach decided to name it after Tyler for his remarkable courage and constantly making each day the best one ever. This award was given to the Rattlesnake, and hands down our best defensive player, Bobby Lawrence. Lastly, Coach Abbott got up to give the 2012 Crease Club Award for the offensive MVP of the team. As he said, it was probably the most obvious recipient possible, and was given to Peter Baum (Colgate’s first Tewaaraton finalist). Following these recognitions, the seniors took the stage and acknowledged Chuck Monteith, our trainer, Vicky Chun, our associate athletic director, and each of our coaches (see picture above- thanks Lucy Donnally). As the evening came to a close, Coach Murphy ended the night by announcing the 2012-2013 captains of James Queeney, Peter Baum, and Jimmy Ryan. Congratulations to everyone.
The next day it was very hard to focus on schoolwork and studying. Seeing any teammate in the library meant stopping to talk about who we would play in the First Round and why. Finally the time was upon us, and at 8:30 pm we met as a team at Rusch’s to eat and watch the selection show. As the teams and seeds were shown, guys got really anxious about who we would play until it was announced: we’d be taking on undefeated UMass in the First Round at Garber Field. Everyone was excited for the game, just not the Astroturf. Right away Ledwick and Matt Clarkson began discussing where to get new turf shoes to wear for the game.
As the excitement continued on, many of us were forced to put it aside and continue studying for finals that began the next day. For me, it was memorizing about 300 slides for my two art history exams that were back-to-back on Monday afternoon (I know, I’m still unsure why I chose to take them too). After a sleepless night, all of us succeeded in our first day and then convened for practice at 6 pm on Tyler’s Field. Before heading out, we met to go over film of Maryland and discuss the game. Coach talked about how great it was to send the seniors out on Andy Kerr like that, and how it was a total team effort. Peter Baum led the way with 5 goals and 2 assists, which garnered him player of the game, while Bobby Lawrence held his attackman to only 1 assist and had an assist himself. Can you see why these guys were MVPs in their respective positions? Conor Murphy came off the bench in the 4th quarter to give our defense a spark and seal the 13-11 victory for us. Coach announced the practice player of the week as well, and it was Brendan McCann who looked good all week and finished with 3 goals against Maryland.
Quickly Coach turned to UMass; he said how they are very similar to us, and we would have to play a full 60-minute game. To do that, it started with that day’s practice. I’m sad to say that I didn’t do my normal routine of putting the main drills we did in each practice on my computer after the day- sorry again. So, I’ll just touch on the main points of the week. We spent a lot of the week adjusting to the Astroturf by doing groundball drills and 6 v. 6 play. Wednesday at Colgate was a day off of exams, but many students could still take their self-scheduled exams then. Instead of practicing at 6 pm, the coaching staff moved it to 2:30 because that is exactly when our game would be on Saturday. Defensively, we spent a lot of time working on the picking game and getting out to our man, while offensively we worked on dodging deep and drawing a slide.
We had a good week of practice while managing schoolwork. Coach constantly said to us that he knew we were tired from studying for finals, and that UMass was finished with theirs. He said how we had to embrace that because it’s who we are and there’s no getting around it. On Thursday we finished practice and went over our scouting reports. The preview talked about how we dared to be different all year, and now was the time for it to pay off. We had to do everything to the best of our ability for the guy to our left and our right. Coach reminded us of a saying he had used before: the bigger the game, the smaller we had to think; this would have to be the case against the Minutemen.
On Friday as guys finished up exams, we left at 11:30 am from Reid Athletic Center to a send-off of fans and Raider. Our trek down to Massachusetts included watching great movies such as, “The Fighter” and “Iron Man 2”. After we got to UMass for our Friday pregame practice, guys were astonished by Garber Field- obviously it’s a historic place, but the Astroturf was the hardest stuff most of us had ever played on. Upon finishing practice, we then got back on the bus and headed to our hotel before dinner. Following a great meal at the Red Rose Pizzeria in Springfield, we watched film in a conference room to put in our last touches on UMass.
Coach Abbott talked about how we cannot retaliate when they start to get chippy; our retaliation would be sticking the ball in the back of the net on man up. Defensively, Coach Starsia emphasized playing picks correctly and pressing the edge against these guys. Coach Murphy finally spoke about how everything we want is ahead of us and all we have to worry about is tomorrow. Come game time, we just had to make it the best day ever.
We woke up around 10 am on Saturday for breakfast, which was essentially our pregame meal. The bus departed at 11:10 because graduation was going on there, and we knew there would be traffic. As we got into the locker room at UMass, you could tell the team was excited to play. The announcement was also made that Conor Murphy would be making his first collegiate start in net for us- Jared Madison was the first to offer his support. Everyone was positive and ready to take the field.
Before our first warm-up, we met as a team to discuss the keys to the game. Coach Abbott started by saying it had to be a full 60-minute attack from our offense, and how everyone had to be dangerous and draw a slide. Coach Starsia followed by telling us how our defense had to get out to hands, and win the running game in every facet. If we completed this, our season would go on at least one more week. Coach Murphy then concluded by talking about the effort, enthusiasm, and execution needed to win this game. He said how they might be ranked the #1 team in the country, but they have yet to play a team like us.
There was no lack of energy on the field during the warm-ups, and during every quiet moment, a Colgate fan would cheer us on out there. Right before the opening whistle, Coach Murphy brought it in around him, we put our hands in and he said we were going to win this game the only way we knew how: together. As the opening whistle blew, it began an up and down first few minutes. Nearly four minutes into the quarter, the Minutemen struck first and stayed pretty consistent. Before you knew it, we were down 7-2 with nine minutes to play in the first half. This is where our team strength began to show. As time ticked down, we capitalized on some man ups to bring it to 7-5 going into half.
We were escorted to…a classroom at halftime where we all sat at a desk and had our teacher, Coach Murphy, draw up some changes on the board. However, the stuff he put on the board didn’t consist of major things. What we needed to do was outwork these guys and make the extra play here and there. As the second half began, UMass scored the first and second goals of the quarter- not what we had planned. This didn’t faze us though as we have been down big before and knew how to come back- we had to focus on winning each minute one at a time.
Our defense held strong for the remainder of the third, and our offense began to step up. The second line midfield of Conor Braddish, Chris Zielinski, and Patrick Campbell all scored in the second half. Braddish’s goal was the first to propel our offense followed by others from McCann, Baum, and Matt Baker. We had finally tied it 9-9 with 30 seconds left in the quarter and had all of the momentum. That is until they were able to take a face-off win and reclaim the lead before going into the fourth with a score of 10-9.
This score wouldn’t last though as Campbell was able to beat his man down the lefty alley and squeak one by their goalie for the equalizer (I literally mean squeak). The goal marked Patty’s first of the season, and couldn’t have come at a more opportune moment. The Minutemen responded with a goal of their own shortly after, but we didn’t let it deter us. As the ball came down to our offensive end, Ryan Walsh displayed why he was voted rookie of the year for us by beating their most talked about defenseman for a goal to tie the game. From here, we refused to look back. Because the second midfield line was fresh, they were sent out on the next possession. After great ball movement, Zielinski dodged his man to the inside and fired a shot past their goalie for our first lead of the game.
To put a cap on the game, Baum used a great pick from Zielinski to score his second of the contest, and leave us with the final score of 13-11. We had knocked off the only unbeaten team left in Division-I on their home field, and it felt great. This was the definition of a team win: the sideline going crazy the entire game, the offense putting up over 10 goals, the defense bending but not breaking, and the goalie play of Conor Murphy was phenomenal. We had successfully earned ourselves one more week with each other, and a chance to do something no Colgate lacrosse team has ever done before: go to the final four.
Now standing in our way is a very strong Duke team. They are solid in every facet of the game, but so are we. The trust and belief in one another on this team rivals any, and we plan to work as hard as ever for this game. It will not be easy, but we understand that. So following the graduation of our senior class in our hotel Saturday night (yes, we’re doing that), the opening face-off will be sometime around 2:30 on Sunday at PPL Park. It will come down to the team that takes care of the little things best, and the team that executes at the highest level. We aim to be that team and are working to make Sunday the best day ever.