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.
“One’s best success comes after their greatest disappointments.” –Henry Ward Beecher
This quote represents not only an outlook on life, but also the response our team would have following our first loss of the season. The Dartmouth game was terrible, and was a loss that we will not soon forget. However, we would surely use it to improve. There are many excuses that can be made for why we lost, but ultimately it doesn’t matter anymore. We needed to respond and prove that that game was not reflective of who Colgate Lacrosse is- Robert Morris would have to endure our demonstration.
Monday began with film on Dartmouth to go over our mistakes with the coaching staff. The mood was…let’s just say we don’t want to lose anytime soon. Upon looking at the practice plan and lines for the day, there were some obvious shake-ups in the depth chart: Peter Baum was switched with Matt Clarkson at attack and midfield, Brendan McCann would now be at attack with Pete and Ryan Walsh, and the second midfield line was switched around to include Justin Kirchner. After hearing from the coaches and seeing this we were told about playing well no matter where we were on the depth chart because no matter what, we’re playing together for one another.
You wouldn’t know the mood in the locker room just five minutes prior by watching the start of practice. Everyone was loud and excited to be out on the field. Tim Cashman, our lunch pail winner of the week, had another great practice alongside Pat Shanley. We focused on our system and our game throughout practice. We worked on pick plays, 3 vs. 2s from different sides of the field, and last touch (one of our transition drills). During this, Erik Pfiffner and I were put through a rigorous agility workout at the hands of our trainer, Chuck (our reluctance to do the running and box drills probably added to the difficulty). Coach Murphy brought it in at the end to tell us that we needed to work hard this week for an explosive Robert Morris team that would surely light us up if we didn’t come out swinging ourselves.
On Tuesday morning, coach Starsia and the defense met to go over film from our previous three games coupled with film of Robert Morris. The offense met at 12:15 to do the same with coach Abbott. Practice that afternoon was a little rough. One of the first drills was dragon clearing and too many guys were throwing the ball away; needless to say, the team ended up on the goal line for an impromptu conditioning session. Then we got into a Robert Morris scout, did 6 vs. 6 at two ends, one end, and again worked on 3 vs. 2s from sides. By the end of practice, coach told us how we gave one back so tomorrow we’d have to show up and make the difference for both practices.
Wednesday was the Hamilton weather we’ve seen from years past with a good ole snowstorm. We practiced inside Sanford Fieldhouse due to this and made the best of it. The day was kicked off with 9 lines (5 vs. 4s from up top), working on pick plays from behind and up top, then getting into our defensive nugget drill while the offense shot. Wednesday also marked Pfif and my return to practice; for me it had been just over 3 weeks of watching and rehab. Of course we were required to wear green (limited) jerseys and wrapped up extensively. At one point in practice coach Starsia had the defense around him to explain to us how we needed to hustle more. He wasn’t referring to our running nor our effort, but our communication between each other. He explained how talk is hustle, and to be great, we needed to do it better. The D got the message and had a great 6 vs. 6 session following the nugget drill.
Practice was inside again on Thursday. However, we didn’t allow this to affect what we wanted to get done. Instead of working on 6 vs. 6 to start, we did our mineola drill (the middies at the top, D on one side, Attack on the opposite, and the ball comes in from the top with the middies. Everyone needs to rush into the hole and matchup then play) with an added wrinkle that it would be our starting team versus the scout team running Robert Morris’ scheme. Then we got into man up/man down, and adjusted our riding game for the game. As we got back to our locker room, our scouting reports were waiting for us. We went over them as a team to see a very good quote at top, and bolded in the middle of the first page was “EFFORT/ENTHUSIASM/EXECUTION”. Three words that were familiar to us, but needed to be emphasized this week in response to the loss.
Seeing that none of us would have class the next day due to an early departure time, a lot of people wanted to do a dinner out or a movie. The seniors split up with Jared Madison, John Donnally, Kevin Gordon, and myself going to Rusch’s (a sports bar in town) for dinner. A few other guys, Colby Wilson, Shanley, Jeff Ledwick, and junior Denis Brown, decided to make the trip to New Hartford for dinner and a movie. Apparently their trip was more exciting because halfway into our meal at Rusch’s we received phone calls asking us to join them, but we politely passed on the offer. We just couldn’t handle leaving without finishing our meal and enjoying some tollhouse pie (see picture of Jared).
After a great meal it was time to relax and head to bed early for a 7:30 am wake up with the bus leaving at 8 am. In our lockers on Friday morning weren’t our usual maroon away jerseys though, they were brand new black Nike jerseys for our first away game of the season (see locker picture). This new addition to our wardrobe put everyone in a good mood going into a LONG bus trip. We arrived at Robert Morris for practice around 3 pm and wore shorts and t-shirts for an outdoor practice for the first time in a long time. Of course, about a halfway through our normal pregame practice it started pouring, but we refused to allow the rain affect our play and our focus. After finishing in the rainy weather, we gathered our stuff and headed to the hotel.
We all showered and changed into our black Nike tracksuits with maroon polos for dinner that evening (see entry 2’s picture) which was followed by a final scout film of Robert Morris. The next morning we woke up at 8:45 for breakfast and then proceeded to RMU around 10 am in jacket and tie for a 12 pm game. Before going out for our warm-up, coach Abbott gave us our offensive keys to the game as hard, fast, and patient. If we do all those things, we’ll put up twenty goals on these guys he said (guess the offense heard him loud and clear). Coach Starsia then told us that defensively we needed to talk to one another, trust one another, and play together for all 60 minutes. Finally, coach Murphy took over to say this needed to be our best execution to date. We needed to play complementary lacrosse; something we had gone over all week. If our offense would only score 5 goals, then our D would have to hold them to 4 and so on. This game would define how we bounce back from a loss. For me, it would be that, and also my first time dressing this season as I was given the OK by Chuck to suit up.
As we walked out to the field in our new black jerseys, Clarkson pointed out the song playing at the time, “Fade Into Darkness”. It had to be a sign. After a…patriotic performance of the national anthem, our starters took the field to begin the game. On our first possession, Ledwick drew a penalty, and Matt Baker was able to capitalize for us on man up. After that, we never looked back. The day was highlighted by the offensive production- even some defensive guys were getting in on the action. As one of Denis Brown’s friends put it so “eloquently”, we all survived a nuclear Baum. Peter went off for 8 goals and 2 assists at attack. Walshy had 6 points of his own off 3 goals and 3 helpers. Other guys who put up numbers were Baker, Conor Braddish, Wilson, Rob Grabher, and Kirchner who despite what his bio says, scored his first collegiate goal. Three other guys to note who had points were defensive players Jimmy Ryan who scored off a dish from Bobby Lawrence, and sophomore defenseman Kevin Boyle who cleared the ball then stung a top corner from about 16 yards out to set the team off. It was one of those, “no…no…pass…NO…NO…OH MY GOD….YES…YES!” moments while he was running. As our lead in the 4th quarter remained at 10, a lot of guys were able to get in the game for some well-deserved playing time.
The final score ended up being 24-14 in our favor. As we met in our team room following the game, coach Murphy congratulated us on the win, while reminding us that 14 goals is way too many for our defense to let up no matter what the situation. Usually we get 24 hours to enjoy the victory, but he would only allow us the bus ride back to Hamilton as we have a much more balanced team in Hobart coming on Tuesday.
Now that we’ve displayed what kind of team we can be offensively, we need to complement it with a shutdown defense. Tuesday will be a great opportunity for us to do just that as we build on our victories and loss to make us a stronger team going forward.