Blogs and Commentary

posted 02.18.2013 at 10.00 a.m. by Jac Coyne

NCAA Division II Notebook

NYIT head coach Bill Dunn realizes his roster looks a little light. With just 27 players listed, the Bears are below the norm for most varsity teams — and certainly ones with a preseason ranking such as No. 8 NYIT, which had a 44-man roster in '12 — but Dunn isn't too worried about it. He's found solace by looking at a familiar foe.

By eyeballing what ECC rival Dowling, which is located about 30 miles from NYIT, and their Lions' coach, Tim Boyle, did last year on the way to a national championship, Dunn feels he has a model for how to operate this year.

"Timmy has done a good job with his team and I learned a lot from them last year," Dunn said. "He had a pretty large roster, but he didn't use a lot of guys. He played a set of 15 or 17 guys during the game. That's what we're going to try and do, as well."

NYIT had a larger roster in the fall, but there was a significant attrition rate via academic mandates and transfers. Dunn understands that his depth is affected, but with the new rules, the concept of depth is changing.

"Our depth might be questioned during the season due to injury — hopefully not — but with the rule changes now, and especially at the midfield, it's very hard to get three midfield lines in the game without the horns and stoppages of play," Dunn said. "You have to be a little creative to get those players on. I don't want to compromise our riding game, but I think most teams will want to make sure they don't get beat on the other end of the field. We might not ride as hard out of the midfield and ride harder with the attack, but to get those players on the field, it will be real difficult. Right now, we have two good midfield lines, two good defensive midfielders and good poles. The way we've been practicing, we should be fine that way."

The Bears will once again be a team predicated on solid defense. Junior Danny McDermott, who was named the defensive MVP of the FIL U19 World Championship while playing with Canada, returns as the anchor on close defense. The graduation of All-American goalie Billy McGee appeared to be an opening for a rookie netminder, but 28-year-old Joe Fallon had other ideas.

"Joe was out of school for a number of years for personal reasons and came to us two years ago as a walk-on and worked real hard," Dunn said. "He's earned the spot right now. We have a real capable freshman behind him that I recruited because I thought he was going to be the next guy. Joe has proven me wrong. I think we're in pretty good shape with our whole defense; that end of the field, we're going to be pretty solid."

It won't be in goal, but there will be some freshmen contributors this season. Dunn envisions rookie Shawn Murphy running on attack after finding a rapport with sophomore Luke Miller (18g, 27a) and Eric Talbot, who is also a Sachem North (N.Y.) product like Murphy, has carved out a spot on the first midfield line. They'll have to grow up in a hurry playing a schedule that features six of the 12 teams in the Division II poll.

It all starts with No. 6 Seton Hill at home this Saturday. They are in different conferences now, but the two programs are quite familiar with each other. NYIT thumped the Griffins last year, 13-6, when they were both members of the ECC.

"If we get enough looks at the cage, we should be all right," Dunn said of facing Seton Hill. "[Attackman Matt] Delmonico and [middie James] Delaney will cause us a lot of problems with matchups. McDermott did well against Delmonico last year, taking him out of the game. Like any Tech team, we want to out-ground ball every team and be a ball-possession team. It's a tough opener for both teams, but that's the way things are going to go. With the RPI ratings, you're going to have play all the teams that are pretty good."

The last team on the schedule is Dowling on May 4. Dunn's hoping his thin roster will survive to that point and still be in the hunt. If the Bears are, Dunn feels he has history on his side.

"Usually we play Dowling early in the season and this year we're playing them in our last game," he said. "The last time we did that was in 2008. We were undefeated at that point, and they upset us in the last couple of seconds of the game. We went on to win the national championship."

- With Limestone trailing Tampa, 3-1, on Friday night, Saints head coach J.B. Clarke had no inkling that the game would eventually turn into a 17-5 laugher for his squad. "There was plenty of concern," Clarke said. "Tampa is a well-coached, athletic and talented group. The game was sloppy at the beginning. Whichever team put a few passes together would likely pull ahead."

The early deficit felt kind of odd since the Saints offense was supposed to be the signature unit while the defense had to be rebuilt. Conversely, it was the defense that was standing tall against a solid Tampa attack. "Our defense and goalie executed our game plan well," said Clarke.

In general, Clarke gave his team high marks for their effort and their clearing work in a season opener, but was more critical about the execution of the offense in the half field, which seems somewhat harsh for a unit that notched 17 goals.

"Every year is a new Journey," Clarke said, whose squad squeaked past Saint Leo on Sunday, 7-5. "The key to the win was our guys working together and playing really, really hard. This group cares a lot about each other. This one, as early as it was, was not pretty. If we had to play them again later, I would anticipate a much different quality of play. The intangibles were the difference."

- The newly formed ECAC Division II league held an online media day on YouTube. It provides a good glimpse into this year's teams...Belmont Abbey is off to a 2-0 start...Pfeiffer gave Lenoir-Rhyne 14 EMO chances, but still managed to pull out a 12-10 victory...after going winless in the Deep South during its inaugural season last year, Florida Tech opened the 2013 campaign with consecutive conference victories. They opened the season with a 16-15 win over St. Leo's last Tuesday and backed that up on Saturday with a 9-5 triumph over Rollins.

Congrats to Mike Murphy and Mount Olive for picking up a win in their first-ever game. The Trojans crunched fellow neophyte Young Harris, 24-5...also, Congrats to Mike Lawson, who won his first game with Wingate...LIU Post kicked off the season with a 10-6 win over Queens...was saddened to hear of the passing of former St. Michael's head coach Paul Schimoler after he lost his battle with cancer. Schimoler played at Cornell and was most recently an assistant at Dartmouth.