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.
Coming off an emotional win over Bucknell, our sights were set immediately on the Patriot League tournament and playing…Bucknell. We were very excited and anxiously awaiting the chance to prove to them that the previous one goal game was a fluke. Sunday we met to wrap up the first Bison game and turn to the next one. Coach Murphy commended us for not panicking after a 5-goal deficit and pulling out the victory. He went on to give player of the game to Peter Baum and practice player of the week to Chris Zielinski who also had a great game.
Monday morning many of us had lifting and then we met to watch film that afternoon. It was comprised of clips from the game showing things we needed to work on at both ends of the field. The moment we stepped onto Andy Kerr, you could tell everyone was tuned in and ready to work. We kicked off practice with 3 vs. 2s from a side, and then got into an OT scrum. Jeff Ledwick dodged hard down the alley, and then threw back to a wide-open Matt Baker who beat the goalie to end it. Next, we moved into riding and clearing against Bucknell and 6 vs. 6 at two ends. Following this, we did maroon gbs in a corner that turned into the Bobby Lawrence show; kid was getting every ground ball he went for. Practice ended with the beast drill (6 vs. 4s) and some stick work for everyone.
Tuesday we had film during the day at 11:30 am, and were forced to practice late due to a snowstorm in Hamilton- what’s new? Later on, news was announced about the Patriot League awards: Pete won offensive POY and Ryan Walsh got ROY honors. Other guys recognized were Ledwick and Rob Grabher on the 1st team, while Walshy and Bobby Lawrence were 2nd team players. Congratulations to those guys, but to be honest, the Rattlesnake should have been 1st team easily, and John Donnally should have been somewhere on those lists. Before practice, Coach relayed the same exact sentiments of appreciation and disappointment. He was disappointed about some of our guys getting overlooked, but said we’d have a chance to showcase our stuff on Friday in front of a national audience.
Good news was announced as well for underappreciated guys on the team when the Sisters of the Poor awards were announced via Twitter; 1st team guys included myself, Ben Shapiro, Will Manning, Reid Shepard, Mont Pooley, and Denis Brown. Defensive Player of the Year: Tim Cashman. Practice went well as we went over rides and clears again followed by getting into our usual drills. We worked on our transition game with Omaha, did 6 vs. 5 face-offs, meatgrinder drill, and ended with some good old-fashion Mineola.
On Wednesday, the Tewaaraton Award finalists were published and surprise surprise, Peter Baum was on it- deservedly so. The Patriot League also came out with their all-academic team, and four guys represented us there: Baum, Grabher, Kevin Gordon, and James Queeney (surprise surprise there too). None of these accolades got to anyone’s head as we had a great practice that day. We went through our apache drill, the cavalier drill, man up/man down, and were sure to do a face-off at 5:06 pm, right when our game was supposed to start on Friday.
The scouting reports were waiting for us in our lockers after practice. The same picture that had been used the previous week was again on the preview page. Coach put a poem on there about how good enough really is never good enough. We went through a very similar report we had seen so recently, but noted the newly added information for each player on Bucknell. Coach concluded the meeting saying how we’re right where we want to be, and all we have to do is seize the opportunity in front of us.
Thursday was our normal pregame practice, and you could tell some guys’ were already thinking about the following day. The focus was there, but the execution wasn’t where we wanted it to be. In any case, we got through it and ended on a high note. That night everyone did the same thing they’ve done before any home game, and many rejoiced after hearing the news about not having to attend afternoon classes on Friday.
A team meal was prepared for us at Seven Oaks on Friday afternoon at 2 pm, and then most people headed straight to the locker room. As we got the final word that Donnally wasn’t going to play, the team knew guys had to step up. Before the game we sat down and discussed the keys to victory. Coach Abbott started by telling the offense they needed to handle early pressure, be a constant threat, and by working together, keep the goals coming. Coach Starsia kept his keys the same as the previous game- it seemed to work. He started by saying how we needed to simplify the game on the defensive end, how we needed to slide and support each other, and how we needed to take the fight to them. Finally, Coach Murphy got up and told us how the moment we’ve waited for was upon us. He added that in a big game, the little things are more important. If we brought the effort, enthusiasm, and execution that we were all capable of, it would be the best day ever.
Bucknell was able to score the first goal of the game, but we quickly answered back with two of our own. Ledwick and Baum recorded the tallies before the Bison were able to tie it up. Soon it was 4-3 Bucknell, until Grabher won the face cleanly and ran through Bucknell’s defense to tie it up at 4-4. The first quarter ended in a tie 5-5, but the second was all ours. We won it 3-0 and it included a milkshake goal (shot from behind midfield) that ended up getting onto the Sportscenter top ten.
In the second half Bucknell mounted a tiny comeback but only got within 2 goals before we opened up the lead. One of the nicer goals of the game came from attackman Ryan Collins as he beat his man from X, and with his eyes closed, wrapped a shot around his man and the goalie for a score. We won the game 14-9 behind the Tewaaraton-esque performance of Baum (5G, 4A), Ledwick (2G, 1A), with Brendon McCann, Walshy, Matt Baker, Collins, Grabher, and Lawrence all adding a goal each. Matt Clarkson also played solid offensively dishing out one assist, while Chris Zielinski stepped up huge in the absence of Donz, and played a great defensive game alongside Jimmy Ryan. Ultimately, it was a great team win but we didn’t celebrate a ton.
Of course we were happy we won the game, but as Coach Murphy quickly reminded us, the game of more importance was now two days away against the winner of Lehigh/Army. It was evident in the locker room that guys weren’t getting overly excited about the win because we all understood that we were supposed to win, and Sunday was what we cared about more. Everyone attended the tailgate after the game, and some of us even stuck it out in the cold weather to watch the first half of the second semifinal game. After that, most of us stacked up on Gatorade and Pedialyte to rehydrate our bodies before the next game.
Saturday we had a practice at 3:30 to get a refresher on Lehigh. It wasn’t our normal pregame practice as we went through rides and clears, a lot of 6 vs. 6, and team face-offs. I was explicitly told that I wasn’t allowed to be a wing for this drill (some coaches may think I’m too aggressive with my stick. Donnally knows I feel like Mark Wahlberg).
We then went inside to go over scouting reports for Lehigh.
The preview for the Championship game was pretty simple (I’m starting to sound like Starsia now). Coach Murphy included this quote:
Fight one more round. When your arms are so tired that you can hardly lift your hands to come on guard, fight one more round. When your nose is bleeding and your eyes are black and you are so tired that you wish your opponent would crack you one on the jaw and put you to sleep, fight one more round-remembering that the man who fights one more round is never whipped.
All we had to do on Sunday was fight one more round, and from seeing our performance, it’s hard to argue that we didn’t. This game is what we had been working towards the entire year, and now it was at our doorstep. That night a bunch of us went to dinner at Seven Oaks and just hung out afterwards. The next day, guys got to sleep in as we met at the Clubhouse for a team meal at noon. Following that, we headed over to the locker room for the biggest game of the season. Prior to the first warm-up we met in our Andy Kerr ready room to go over the keys. I regrettably cannot remember each of the coach’s keys, but do remember a main one: finish what you started was written in bold letters on the board. As Coach Abbott was going through the personnel on the opening face-off, he paused when getting to the wings then emphatically said how Donnally would be playing today. The team definitely got an energy boost from this. Coach Murphy wrapped things up by reminding us that the little things were all important and we had to constantly hit singles, not look for the home run.
The game got off to a great start…if you were a Lehigh fan; they jumped out to an early 5-0 lead. In the second quarter we started to pick our game up with Leddy finding the back of the net off a look from Baum. Soon after we pulled within two at 5-3. The Mountain Hawks then went on another run and the score at half was 9-5 them. The third quarter was a lot of back and forth scoring with us edging Lehigh 6-5 and going into the fourth down 3. With Lehigh up 16-11 a few minutes into the fourth, we had to dig deep to climb out of a tough spot. Our offense was able to score 3 goals in the closing minutes and get us within 2, but there wasn’t enough time to mount the full comeback. We had failed in achieving our main goal of the season.
As Coach pointed out after the game, there is no such thing as a moral victory, but the fact that we didn’t just roll over tells you something about this team. We’re a group of guys who will never give up. Our offense exploded for 14 goals behind Peter’s second consecutive nine-point game (3G, 6A). Ledwick put up 5 goals to aid the battle, Walshy played a solid game by putting up 2G and 3A, McCann had one of his better games by making tight handles for 2 goals and providing one assist. Other than those guys, Grabher went 1 and 1 with Collins also adding a goal. On the defensive end we struggled, and there’s no denying that. 16 goals is way too many and does not accurately reflect the capability of the group we have on the dark side.
One of the ways of viewing the loss is as the end of the fourth quarter of our season- we lost the quarter, but are currently tied going into overtime. Despite this devastating loss we still have another game to play, and it’s against one of the better teams in the country. If we’re able to win the game (OT), then we should have a shot at playing another game. Coach has repeatedly told us throughout the year that we’re only guaranteed 14 games in this season. Luckily we were able to add 2 with the Patriot League tourney, and now are hoping to extend that number by more.
The Terps are coming to town on Saturday. It’s our senior day, the school’s springcoming, and the weather is supposed to cooperate. What better way could we as seniors ask to end our home careers other than beating Maryland at home and setting ourselves up for an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament. Of course we know it’s going to be a tough game coming at the end of the last week of classes, but who cares? Come Saturday the only thing that will matter is that all 47 guys on the roster go out to Andy Kerr and leave it all on the field. I can think of no better way to end my career here at Colgate than with this group of guys going up against an ACC powerhouse.