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.
Jr. – #22 – Midfield
Thankfully, I can begin this blog entry in a much more positive fashion than I did a week ago. Beating Bucknell was one of our team’s primary goals coming into this season, and in front of a record crowd at Banko Field on Saturday night, we managed to do just that. It’s hard not to be excited when that kind of aspiration comes to fruition…I don’t think I’ve ever been more eager to play a game or more elated after winning a game in my life. Thinking back to HBO’s “24/7” series this winter, I remember watching the New York Rangers come into their locker room after a win listening to Flo Rida’s lyrics, “Ohh ohh sometimes, I get a good feeling.” As I walked back into our locker room on Saturday, it’s safe to say that I got a good feeling as well.
When 6:15 came around on game day, Roman Lao-Gosney led us onto the field for our pregame warm-up, which was probably the most fitting part of the entire night. He’s the guy our team has rallied around all year, and our successes on the field have largely in part been due to both his play and leadership. The game itself was as close of a lacrosse matchup that I’ve witnessed, and the outcome really wasn’t determined until the final minute of play. Coming out of a Bucknell timeout near the end of the game, our defense came up with a huge stop to keep the score tied at 8 and give our offense an opportunity to seal a victory in regulation. Then, with just 13 seconds left to play, Dante Fantoni put the team on his backkkk doggg (Greg Jennings style) and fired a shot from the left wing past Bucknell’s keeper. After that, Conor Murphy broke out some nice dance moves that no one knew he had, Coach Comp managed to stay on his feet, and the rest of the boys just watched time elapse in ecstasy.
After celebrating the win with the 20 or so alumni in attendance, getting into the training room for sports-med treatment, and taking care of Sunday’s normal academic obligations, the squad regrouped on Monday like we always do. During our film session that afternoon, Coach Cassese made a great comment about the final, determining minute of Saturday’s game. He pointed out that everyone in the media would praise the shot that won the game, but that the real praise should go out to the stop our defense made leading up to it. That’s probably the most fitting observation about our team’s focus that I’ve heard all year. Offense sells tickets, but defense wins games…a notion well manifested by our victory over Bucknell on Saturday. When the film wrapped up, Mike Noone and Matty Poillon (classic) were recognized for winning Patriot League weekly awards. Mike has developed into a vocal and physical leader of our defense this year…the floodgates have certainly opened up for him, and accolades just continue to flow in. I have to say that for a guy who isn’t typically known for his speed, Michael sure knows how to cover real estate.
By now, anyone who’s been reading this blog knows that Mondays are our team’s lifting days…talk about something hard not to get excited for. I’m absolutely confident that if my own mother spent an hour in the weight room with Eric Markovcy, even she would get hyped about hitting the weights (just trust me on this one, mom). Eric wasn’t satisfied with the way our biceps were looking this week, so he made us go outside after the lift for a 10-minute partner curl session. All the guys appreciated his concern, and Coach Callahan might even be able to get away with wearing a short sleeve shirt for this weekend’s game now.
Alluding to previous weeks of practice, Tuesday’s focus was all on transition. Half-field 4v3, full-field “Hero”, and unsettled “Appache” drills all pitted our Brown and White squads against each other, with sprints on the line for each matchup. Being able to generate and capitalize on transitional opportunities is a huge emphasis for our team at this point, and the coaching staff believes that getting better in that aspect of the game could be an immediate catalyst of offensive production for us.
Wednesday’s focus remained on transition and included various group work sessions. Coach Callahan led the defense through footwork, slide and recover drills and Coach Cassese put a big emphasis on shooting for the offense. Ground balls and stick work, the core of everything a lacrosse team does, were also highly accentuated. We even had a full-field team face-off session, which I personally always enjoy seeing on the practice schedule.
I mentioned earlier that beating Bucknell was one of our team’s goals coming into this season. Another of those goals, and arguably the underlying focus of the entire Lehigh Athletics’ program, is to “Always Beat Lafayette.” For most Lehigh students, Lehigh-Lafayette week is associated with the days leading up the most historic football game in the nation each fall. Without denying the epic implications of those fall days, our lacrosse team has another Lehigh-Lafayette week each year…and that week is here. Rivalry games are an incredible feature of sports. For us, Lafayette is unlike any other opponent on our schedule, year in and year out. On Thursday, we went over scouting reports and watched film on this year’s Leopards, focusing in on the matchup down the road coming this weekend.
Regardless of any Patriot League or NCCA tournament implications, Lehigh vs. Lafayette is a HUGE game by any standards. This year’s game is at Lafayette, and that setting inevitably brings back memories of when we last played on their field during my freshman year. In that thrilling overtime game, Dante Fantoni again put the team on his backkk dogggg to give us a season defining victory (I won’t go into any more detail about those heroics in this entry, but if you ask Dante I’m sure he’d be happy to elaborate on what happened). Lafayette has a similar opportunity this season: the opportunity to beat their archrival and fulfill a season defining accomplishment. Rivalry games, in this sense, resemble what sports are all about. At the end of the day, what do we all devote ourselves to the game for? It’s not about fun, it’s not about fame, it’s not even necessarily about winning…at the end of the day, it’s all about pride.