CENTERVILLE, Mass. (Feb. 7, 2012) — In a vote conducted by conference coaches, the Denver Pioneers have been selected to defend their Eastern College Athletic Conference Lacrosse League Championship in 2012 as the top team in the ECAC pre-season coaches’ poll. Led by pre-season ECAC Offensive Player of the Year Mark Matthews, Denver opens the season at Everbank Field in Jacksonville, Fla., against Ohio State in the Moe’s Southwest Grill Lacrosse Classic on Feb. 19.
Denver placed four players on the ECAC pre-season team, sweeping the top awards. Matthews, a senior who scored 45 goals and 24 assists during the 2011 campaign, was joined by sophomore goalkeeper Jamie Faus, who was voted the pre-season defensive player of the year. Faus saw action in 17 games last season for the Pioneers, making 179 saves while amassing a 14-3-0 record. Freshman Wes Berg, a 6-foot-1 midfielder from New Westminster, British Columbia, was chosen as the pre-season rookie of the year. Juniors Cam Flint and Chase Carraro were also voted onto the pre-season squad, as Carraro was chosen as the pre-season specialist of the year.
The Pioneers finished 2011 with a 15-3-0 record, winning the inaugural ECAC Tournament title. Led by legendary head coach Bill Tierney, the Pioneers hosted the first NCAA Tournament game west of the Mississippi River, defeating Villanova 13-10, advancing to the national semifinals for the first time in program history before falling to eventual national champion Virginia. Denver has high hopes as the Pioneers enter the season as the No. 5 team in the nation according to the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) and Nike/Inside Lacrosse pre-season polls.
Led by junior attack and ECAC pre-season all-conference selection Mike Sawyer, the Loyola Greyhounds were picked to finish as the No. 2 team in the pre-season poll. Sawyer, a 31-goal scorer last season, was one of two Greyhounds to make the all-conference team as junior Scott Ratliff, who caused a team-leading 15 turnovers last season, was also voted onto the pre-season squad. Loyola made the four-team conference tournament last season, falling to Fairfield in the semifinals, 10-9, on May 5th. Loyola was listed in the “receiving votes” portion of both the USILA and Nike/Inside Lacrosse polls.
The Stags, No. 3 in the ECAC pre-season poll, are led by senior midfielder Brent Adams. Adams had a 53 percent shots on goal rate, scoring 18 points on 11 goals and seven assists. He also collected 19 ground balls during the 2011 campaign, which saw Fairfield advance to the ECAC Championship game after finishing the regular season with an 8-8-0 record.
Ohio State boasts the reigning ECAC Defensive Player of the Year and one of the conference’s top scorers entering the 2012 season. The Buckeyes, ranked No. 4 according to the ECAC coaches’ poll, return senior defenseman Matt Kawamoto, an all-conference pre-season selection who finished 2011 with 32 ground balls with 14 caused turnovers in 875 minutes played. He is joined by junior attack Logan Schuss, who finished in the top five for the ECAC in game-winning goals (1st, 3), points per game (2nd, 3.47), goals per game (3rd, 2.13), and assists per game (4th, 1.33). Ohio State was also listed in the “receiving votes” portion of both the USILA and Nike/Inside Lacrosse polls.
Air Force, Hobart and Bellarmine round out the poll as the fifth through seventh placing teams, respectively. Air Force senior defenseman Dayton Gilbreath was voted onto the all-conference pre-season team; Gilbreath finished 2011 with 30 ground balls and 14 caused turnovers in 787 minutes played.
Michigan enters its first season as a varsity team in 2012. The Wolverines join the ECAC as an affiliate entering this season, and will start 2013 as an active member of the conference that is eligible for the conference championship and the NCAA tournament automatic bid.
2012 Preseason All-League Honors
A Mark Matthews, Sr., Denver
A Logan Schuss, Jr., Ohio State
A Mike Sawyer, Jr., Loyola
M Cam Flint, Jr., Denver
M Chase Carraro, Jr., Denver
M Brent Adams, Sr., Fairfield
D Matt Kawamoto, Sr., Ohio State
D Drew Palmer, Sr., Fairfield
D Dayton Gilbreath, Sr., Air Force
D Scott Ratliff, Jr., Loyola
Sp. Chase Carraro, Jr., Denver
GK Jamie Faus, So., Denver
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Mark Matthews, Sr., A, Denver
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Jamie Faus, So., GK, Denver
Preseason Rookie of the Year: Wes Berg, Fr., M, Denver
Preseason Specialist of the Year: Chase Carraro, Jr., M, Denver