The 2013 season is here and we wanted to work closely with college programs to bring a part of the excitement to you. Throughout the 2013 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.
Midfielder – #2
As all of the boys voyaged back to Lehigh on Friday, January 11th, there was only one goal on our minds: win the 2013 National Championship. Looking back at a stellar 2012 campaign, we accomplished many firsts in school history. It was an unbelievable opportunity to be a part of that Mountain Hawks team, as the flywheel got rolling like I could have never imagined. However, with a new team, new faces and the loss of an unbelievable senior class, our squad quickly realized the monumental task ahead of us. This mission was briefly trumped by what was looming upon our arrival: the devastating 2-mile run test, which is a staple of the Lehigh Lacrosse program. Every year coming back from winter break, this is the first activity our team does. It is a test of both physical and mental toughness, and many of us believe is one of the coaches’ favorite events, wherein which they get to see the team members in their most vulnerable state. Alan Henderson took over the reins from former #17 Adam Johnston as the champ. On the contrary, Kyle “Big Fudge” Stiefel ran an astonishingly slow time as it appeared at times that my grandpa could have beaten him. Keep in mind my grandpa is 84 years old. After the 2-mile, we headed over to the turf field to do a simple drill, called “2 man, 1 Ball.” The goal of this drill is to have the team get in groups of two, and run up and down the length of the field without dropping a single pass. I’m sure many of you reading this now are saying, “Man, that doesn’t sound too hard.” That is exactly what our team thought when we lined up in the fall to do this drill, but two hours and 29 reps later, we realized this was not the case. Having 48 people catch every single pass without a drop on the way up and back is not as easy as it sounds, even for D1 athletes. Our goal this time was to beat our previous record of 29 set in the fall, and we shattered this with 13. The reason we did this drill was simple: it combines many different factors that our team needs to conquer, such as focus, conditioning and mental toughness.
Saturday and Sunday hosted our annual 2-a-days sessions, which are always grueling. I was very impressed how all of the guys on the team really attacked these sessions, and we were off to a great start. Getting off to fast starts is something we have struggled with in the past and has now become a big focus this season. The early focal point of these sessions was on defense and transition, two aspects that will be very vital to our team’s success. If there were any questions about any sense of complacency coming off last season, Coach Cassese ensured they would be sprinted out of us. A couple of the young bucks on our team, Dan Taylor and Kurt Kaunas, were especially impressive early on. The transition from freshman to sophomore year is a huge opportunity for guys to make the jump from scout team to starter, and Dan and Kurt seemed to be on the right track as they earned the “Hard Hat” award (practice player of the week) for weeks 1 and 2, respectively.
As preseason continued, everyone on the team was looking forward to the day of the MLL Draft. Previously, no Lehigh player had ever been drafted in the actual MLL collegiate draft, and our team definitely thought we had people who were more than qualified. We had a draft party (just kidding) at Chris Rinaldi and Baxter Lanius’ residence, the team hang out spot. Dante “Medium Sized” Fantoni was the first to go, as the Denver Outlaws picked him up. It is awesome that Dante and our assistant coach, Tom Compitello, will be able to play together. Next off the board was Noah “Ox” Molnar to the Rochester Rattlers, and lastly David “The Quarterback” DiMaria to the Boston Cannons. Living with David all four years in college (God bless my soul, I know), I was ecstatic that I could be the first one to break the news to him. I already got all 3 of their autographs as well as asked David if I could be his agent (my fingers are still crossed). On a serious note, everyone on the team was extremely proud of them as they help to illustrate how far we have come as a program. Our senior class always wants to do “firsts” in school history, and this was another thing we could add to the list. Another huge highlight of the preseason was when Coach Wilson informed the team that he had gotten engaged. The team erupted in cheers, claps, and Azoogas. There must be something in the water up in Bethlehem, as there have been 3 babies and 2 engagements on the coaching staff since I arrived on campus. On a side note, I’m still not sure if I have heard Ty Souders speak since the team returned.
This past Saturday we headed to Emmitsburg, MD, to take on Mount St. Mary’s. Everyone on the team was itching to face a different color, as we had been scrapping against each other for what seemed like two very long weeks. The weather conditions were not ideal in Emmitsburg, as it felt like 4 degrees when the opening whistle blew. However, weather could not stop the energy as both teams were eager to face off against one another. We ended up getting a quality win over a very good Mount St. Mary’s team. Some standouts included Dan “DT” Taylor, who led the way with 5 goals and 1 assist. Ryan Snyder, who was last year’s blogger, crushed it at the X going 12-17. He had a slow start, but chants of “Unleash the Meat” from the sideline really got him fired up. Kyle Stiefel had 2 goals (one being an absolute rip), as did Kurt Kaunas. Lastly, Reid “For the Boys” Weber was very impressive in his college debut, notching 3 goals in only 2 quarters of action. The weekend got even better as we all gathered at the Rinaldi and Lanius residence to watch the Super Bowl. Being from Baltimore, I was on cloud 9 as the final whistle blew and the Ravens were World Champs. Almost as satisfying as the win was when DiMaria finally echoed the words, “Joe Flacco is better than Mark Sanchez.” Similar to Ray Lewis’ “Last ride,” this year has been deemed the “Tribe’s Last Ride” and we have our mind set on Lincoln Financial Field.
We met for film on Monday to break down the Mount St. Mary’s game and learn from it. Although we got the W, we realized we had a lot of different things to improve on. When we were finished with film, we put the game behind us, like we always do. Our focus has now shifted to St. Joe’s, who we open up with at home this weekend. St. Joe’s has been our first opponent every year since I have been here, but the game started to take on a different meaning last year. Our former assistant coach, Taylor Wray, left to become the head coach at St. Joe’s last year, which now adds a different dimension to this game. He was loved at Lehigh and we were all sad to see him depart, although we knew that he deserved it and it was inevitable. Now, we all look forward to welcoming Coach Wray and his Hawks to the Ulrich Sports Complex to open up the 2013 season. Any team coached by Taylor Wray is going to be a team that plays their heart out and is very well prepared. As we continue to prepare this week, we know that focus has to be at an all-time high as we are squaring off against a very talented St. Joe’s team. The feeling of game week is unlike any other, and everyone on the team is chomping at the bit. That’s it for Blog #1 – Brian Hess signing off, but my loyal readers can call me Schmacka.