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
Game day. In the world of collegiate athletics, there’s nothing like it. Saturday was a game day unlike any other for the Lehigh lacrosse team, though. Looking at the opposing sideline and seeing our old coach, lifting partner, and mentor in maroon and white made this weekend’s contest a special one.
This past July, a bunch of our guys, including myself, were on campus for the annual Lehigh Valley Showcase when Coach Wray told us the news. He was on the verge of tears as he told us he was leaving, a genuine sign of how much he cared about this team and the players he’d coached for so long. It was sad to see him go, but from that point on, there have been all sorts of hype surrounding our season opener against his new program. The atmosphere in Philadelphia this weekend certainly lived up to the hype.
For our fans and parents, looking up and seeing a 2-2 tie in the late stages of the first quarter might have been a little concerning. I remember feeling that same sense of concern during the first game of my career at Lehigh, watching from the sideline as a close match against the same Saint Joe’s Hawks unfolded. Back then, players like myself were prone to panic. Inexperience and a lack of confidence bred an inevitable sense of nervousness when things didn’t go our way. Even though we ultimately won that game in 2010, those issues of experience and confidence persisted for the rest of the season. In 2012, that’s no longer the case. Finding ourselves tied 2-2 this time around revealed something to our team…it revealed that times have changed.
Like many of my classmates (TRIBE), I came to Lehigh to be a part of a special process: the process of rebuilding a program and leaving behind a legacy different than the one in place when I got here. From a winning record during the 2010 campaign to making the Patriot League Tournament for the first time in five years last season, there have surely been signs of this process unfolding. Interestingly enough, the first sign of it this season came at the exact moment when the scoreboard read 2-2 on Saturday. Two years ago, our team would have panicked, gripped our sticks tighter, and let mistakes compound further than they had to. This time around, though, we relaxed, took deep breaths, and bore down with confidence.
Coach Wray and my buddy Griffin Ferrigan did everything they could to prevent it, but, in the end, our squad came out on top of Saint Joe’s 11-4 on Saturday. The “Wrayzor”, as we call him, obviously knew our personnel as well as anyone, and had a great game plan in place for the matchup. On top of that, Ferrigan had an impressive showing in net, making 18 saves on our shooters (one of those saves unfortunately being on me…thanks Griff). Our new sense of confidence showed itself throughout the game, though, and quelled the usual butterflies of a season opener completely by the second half.
A lot of that confidence came from an unusual source…a freshman. Matty Poillon stood on his head in goal, posting an incredible 77% save percentage in his collegiate debut for which he was justly awarded Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Week honors. Brian Hess showed his newfound offensive prowess yet again with two goals and an assist, each followed by legendary celebrations (for anyone that doesn’t know this already, Brian’s the BMOC here at Lehigh…the big man on campus). Dave DiMaria posted 1 and 2 even without his tan, Italian counterpart on the field with him. Cody Ferraro, another Long Island guy, stepped in for Dante and scored twice on right-handed blasts. Senior gunner Adam Johnston had 4 nice goals, playing his usual role as the team’s crease rat, and the Lao-Gosney twins generated all sorts of offense with their dazzling athleticism (stay tuned for their appearance in the upcoming “Crooked Arrows” film…the first step on their paths to Hollywood).
On the D end, my boy Mike Noone put on a show, making clearing and man down defense look ever so simple. Mike has really bootstrapped himself this year, and his effort and love of the game really illustrated themselves in his performance on Saturday. “Red dogs” (or short-stick defensive middies) Noah “the Ox” Molnar and Derek “too sexy for his shirt” Bogorowski were all over the field, throwing their bodies around and not giving up any ground to the Saint Joe’s midfielders. Chris Rinaldi, who’s stepped up into a contributing role as a d-mid this year as well, absolutely laid someone out in the fourth quarter. Kyle Sheridan, who recently moved up on the depth chart and received the Hard Hat Award last week, also stepped up and had a nice game at the LSM position. All in all, even though Coach Wray had his new maroon and white colors on that day, I know he was smiling on the inside as he watched his old defense come together.
Winning our opener was one of the team’s goals coming into this season, and accomplishing that felt especially good since it came against the Wrayzor. Also on that list of goals are winning our home opener, beating a top-10 team, and being ranked in the top-20, and this weekend’s matchup against Villanova gives us an opportunity to take down all three of those birds with one stone. Villanova has always been a big game on our schedule. Our games against them in the past two years were each decided by a single goal, and this year’s may not be any different. Our scout team has done an awesome job already this week of giving our D a look at their unconventional offense, and our coaches have worked hard to put together as much film as possible to prepare.
Herb Brooks once noted, “great moments are born from great opportunity.” With this great opportunity in front of us, the Lehigh Lacrosse team hopes to see itself ranked come Monday. Regardless of the outcome this weekend though, the process of building a top-20 program is well underway in Bethlehem.