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.
This week started a day earlier for us than normal due to our upcoming Friday game against Bucknell. We met on Sunday afternoon to recap Lafayette and talk about the week ahead. A lot of love was given to Jack O’Callaghan, Matt Reyes-Guerra-Dunn, and Derek Katchis for their previous day’s performance. There were two players of the game announced, and wouldn’t you know it, it was our best offensive player, Peter Baum, and our best defensive player, Bobby “Rattlesnake” Lawrence. Aaron Darr was then commended for his prior week of practice as practice player of the week, and then the mood shifted.
Coach got very serious with us and said how this is the game that’s been circled on the calendar ever since he got the job. We have pictures in our locker room of great moments from the previous year, with one above our door that does not fall into that category. The picture is of Bucknell celebrating on our field after having beaten us in the regular season last year (see attached). No one in the locker room had beaten Bucknell in their years here, but Coach told us how that was going to change on Friday, and it had to start with practice on Monday.
Monday began with Coach Gabe Harrington giving us new lifting cycle to start the week. That afternoon in practice we worked a lot on our fundamentals. We kicked off practice with ride the bull for defense (a defender starts at the top of the restraining box with a offensive person 5 yards higher and wider out. The defender runs 5 yards towards the goal, then runs to approach the ball carrier. Following this, the man with the ball just tries to get to the goal while the defender is on his hips) and passing for the offense. Later on we got into the Bucknell offensive personnel and did some 6 vs. 6 at two sides. Practice ended with nuggets and shooting- two things that would be emphasized throughout the week.
On Tuesday the defense met during the day to watch film while the offense met before practice. We moved our start time back until 6:30 because of Spring Football and also because our game was going to be at night. Practice consisted of transition drills, 6 vs. 6 at two ends, maroon ground balls, and our rides and clears. The day was about honing in on our stuff and not necessarily focusing too much on the Bison. As we got into the locker room there was a signup sheet for us to choose a sandwich to have on the bus for Thursday night. It was pretty standard and you just had to put the sandwich you wanted next to your number.
Sadly, it wasn’t this easy for some people…and by some people I’m referring to the Legend himself, Connor Brown who wrote his name next to his number. (To Connor’s credit, he was the first person to go)
The next day we had lift again and met as a team before practice to watch film on Bucknell. Things got changed up due to the evening practice schedule, so we also went over the scouting reports then too. When we opened to the preview, the aforementioned picture was right there with the bolded word, “Persistence”. Coach wrote how if we are humble, driven, and hungry, we’ll be unbeatable. It’s all about an attitude and keeping that attitude every day. Then, the bottom of the page read, “Dare to be different!” We left the locker room ready to go.
We went out to practice full of energy and played very well. We started with the Omaha transition drill, then we got into our Mineola drill with offensive and defensive scout teams. Coach Starsia spent a lot of time going over our clear against Bucknell’s 10-man ride and put in a couple of different looks for when they went into it. Practice ended with man up/man down (luckily for Jim Queeney, nobody hit him with a shot this time).
Thursday the offense and defense met at separate times for film before heading out to our pregame practice. We did our usual drills starting with full field over the shoulder passing and ending with defensive nuggets and offensive shooting. As we brought it in around Coach before going in and changing, he told us how tomorrow was our chance to seize an opportunity that’s been awaiting us for a while now.
We then went into the locker room, packed our stuff up, and hopped on the bus. It was a straight shot down to Lewisburg with the bus movie being Guy Ritchie’s, “Snatch”. The next morning we woke up at around 9:30 for breakfast then headed over to Bucknell at 11:30 for a shootaround. There was a good amount of time to kill when we got back to the hotel, so most of us just napped and hung out. A few people, my roommates Mont Pooley and Derek Katchis included, went to the lobby and got some of their homework done as well (be proud Pooley and Katchis family).
At 3:40, we left the hotel in jacket and tie to head over to our team meal. After a nice chicken and pasta “dinner”, along with Pat Campbell killing a spider that Ben Shapiro would have you believe was monstrous, we got back on the bus and left for Bucknell.
There were a couple of distractions leading up to the game that I applaud my teammates for not letting them affect our game. The first was that we were missing the beginning of Colgate’s Spring Party Weekend with Avicii performing during our game (arguably the biggest DJ in the world at the moment), and the second being how this was a nationally televised game that would have a lot of stoppage in between plays. However, no one really brought either one up, and the energy stayed consistent throughout all the TV timeouts.
Now onto the game itself.
We met in the locker room as we always do before our warm ups to go over the keys to the game. Coach Abbot started by listing his three as: six guys dangerous at all times, moving our feet with crisp passes, and playing together for the win. Coach Starsia opened with his first key being to simplify the game, and went on to add how we had to slide and support each other well (get 8 nuggets), and we needed to take the fight to them early. Coach Murphy summed it up with the usual E’s of effort, enthusiasm, and execution. He told us how this day belonged to us, and to make it the best one ever.
The game started off a little sloppy on our offensive side of the ball, and before you knew it, we were in a hole of 6-1 with our lone goal coming from Baum. After a timeout late in the second quarter, we worked the ball around on offense very well, and Ryan Walsh found Jeff Ledwick inside to score a goal with 1:07 remaining in the half. It was the exact spark we needed because we had played defense for almost the entire half. At halftime there was nothing special said, nor any major adjustments instituted- we just had to execute and play tough.
As the third quarter kicked off, we battled back and forth until John Donnally came up with a great ground ball in the middle of the field and took it to the rack to continue our comeback run. We scored 4 goals in the quarter while holding them to none behind Donnally, Chris Zielinski burning his man, Bobby Lawrence in transition, and Ryan Collins on man up. Going into the fourth quarter it was tied 6-6. Coach’s message to us in the huddle was, “win this minute, then the next one, and the one after that until there are zeros on the clock!” Because of Rob Grabher’s performance at the X during the second and third quarters, Bucknell came out with three poles on the face-offs and it turned into a hard-fought battle each time.
The fourth was very back and forth as we got up 8-6, but then went down 9-8 until finally the game was tied 10-10 with a great shot from Matt Clarkson. With under 2 minutes we had the ball on the offensive end. We ran a play at the 20-second mark and the shot taken went wide of the cage. With now only 8 seconds left, Baum picked up the ball, beat his man, beat the slide, and put the ball in the back of the cage for the game-winner.
The team went absolutely nuts as you can see; it was one of the best feelings in all my time here at Colgate. Essentially, Pete did to Bucknell what Kenny Wu did to Iceland except instead of “Wu wu wu Kenny Wu!” put in “Boom boom Baum!” for this video (below). Dave Tucciarone, a 2011 graduate and former teammate, put it very eloquently, “Who needs Avicii when we got to see Baumvicii?”
The monkey is finally off our backs, and we are now hosting the Patriot League tournament. Top performers on the day were Baum (3G, 1A), Ledwick (2G), Walshy (1G, 2A), Clarkson, Collins, Donnally, Lawrence, and Zielinski (all put up one goal). Kevin Gordon added and assist in there and so did Brendan McCann.
Defensively, Kevin Boyle played his best game of the season and Queeney and Jimmy Ryan were solid as usual. Bobby held Billy Eisenrich, one of the nation’s best players, to 1 goal and 1 assist while doing a great job all over the field as well. Jared Madison did what he had to in order for us to win, and we could all go home happy on the bus.
This game showed a lot to us. We played a barbaric first half (in the words of Denis Brown), yet displayed the mental fortitude to come back and win against a strong opponent. It also demonstrated how good we can be when we run our schemes correctly- especially in the third quarter. It wasn’t just the guys on the field or in the stat sheet who helped our team get to where we are. It’s all 47 players, the coaching staff, and everyone involved with our program.
Beating Bucknell is not the ultimate goal of our season though, winning the Patriot League tournament and going to the NCAAs is. Now we get to play the Bison again on our field in the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament. The mindset going forward: if we continue to work hard, then the best is yet to come.