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December 27, 2010

The All-Coyne Team: Men's Division III

by Jac Coyne | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff | Coyne Archive | Twitter

With the defensive talent amassed on the 2011 All-Coyne team, a snowman could probably pick up the victory. With WNEC junior Brewster Knowlton, Coyne is looking for the shutout.

The concept of the All-Coyne team is simple.

I choose my team – comprised of three attackmen, three middies, a face-off specialist, an LSM, three close defenders, and a goalie – and give you, the reader, the rest of the players in the country to form a unit that could beat mine in a 15-minute game.

Admittedly, it's a false competition because you can't beat mine. My team is perfectly blended to make it invincible, even though there are a couple of combinations that might be able to stay close...for three or four minutes.

Here's why you can't beat my 2011 Men's Division III All-Coyne squad:

It may seem odd to build a team around one guy, but that's what I'm doing, and it all starts with D.J. Hessler, Tufts' playmaker nonpareil. Sure, Hessler can score, but I want him running the show setting up teammates left and right, so my remaining selections will be complementary to that vision.

That's why Hampden-Sydney's Micah Keller will be running up front with Hessler. At 6-foot-5 – Syndey coach Ray Rostan said he grew an inch over the summer – Keller will be a perfect target for the crease feed that was dunked on Salisbury three times in the championship game alone. Keller isn't a crease guy, though, so he'll still be dangerous in various offensive sets.

My third attackman will be Richie Ford from Stevenson. I want a guy who can finish (57g) one of Hessler's passes, but also has the ability to dodge in a pinch and the poise to set up Keller or one of my middies (35a) if/when the opposition develops some quirky defense to manage Hessler for a possession or two. Haverford's Max Hjelm and Ford's teammate Jimmy Dailey are tempting, but Hjelm is a shorter version of Ford and Dailey would just replicate what Hessler gives me. They would probably be a good starting point for anyone trying to take on my squad.

This perfectly blended attack will be seeing a lot of action because I've nearly cornered the market on marquee face-off middies. Colby's Craig Bunker sits in my designated FOGO spot, and his 72.4 percent at the 'X' (212-for-293) will likely be all I'll need for a 15 minute game. But I'm going to roll three fresh draw men at your guy (who will likely be Stevenson's Ray Witte or Tufts' Nick Rhoads) because Cortland's Chris DeLuca (133-for-197, 67.5%) and Justin Tuma (156-for-243, 64.2%) are on my midfield line.

As you know, face-offs are just part of the package for DeLuca (37g, 15a) and Tuma (30g, 19a), who will flourish when the slide packages for Hessler and Ford start opening large chunks of real estate. Gettysburg's Danno Lynch, who at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds gives Hessler another sizeable target, rounds out my midfield and provides a bomber (33g, 8a) from up top. The temptation here is to go with Salisbury's Sam Bradman – and I really couldn't go wrong with the junior – but as odd as it may sound, Bradman's too unselfish. I need a gunner, so Lynch is my man.

While I'm rotating Bunker, Tuma and DeLuca through the face-off and the near wing, Wesleyan's Gabe Kelley will be on the far wing as my LSM. There are other LSMs out there who might help me more in transition offense or even in scoring, but I don't need that. I need a physical kid who can lock down a high-end middie on the off chance my opponent actually gains possession (likely on a sympathy warding or illegal screen call) and be a ground ball machine on face-offs. Kelley gives me both.

Because my opponent is likely to be down by four or five goals when it finally gets a chance to bring it into its offensive zone, I don't need risky take-away poles on the backline. I just need cold-blooded close defenders who will use the opposition's desperation against them by simply waiting for a mistake. Middlebury's Matt Rayner, Salisbury's Collin Tokosch and Dickinson's John Haire are rock solid, and each has big game experience.

My poles are going to give your attackmen and top midfielder fits, but my ace in the defensive hole is Tuma. He's known as a premium face-off man and a solid offensive player, but he cut his teeth as a defensive middie and is still one of the best around. Tuma will easily handle your second-best middie, leaving DeLuca and Bunker alternating to badger your third guy.

With the team I've devised, I could put a Kennedy rocking chair in the crease and I'd still have a decent shot at posting the shutout. But just to make sure I do put up the donut, I'm tabbing Western New England's Brewster Knowlton. Yeah, he didn't have a great sophomore campaign, but that might have been the product of a team issue. Regardless, I think he has the game to complement the defense I've put in front of him.

So there it is. The unbeatable All-Coyne team for men's Division III. Can you come up with a team to even make it close?

A – Richie Ford – Sr., Stevenson
A – D.J. Hessler – Sr., Tufts
A – Micah Keller – Jr., Hampden-Sydney
M – Chris DeLuca – Sr., Cortland
M – Danno Lynch – Sr., Gettysburg
M – Justin Tuma – Sr., Roanoke
LSM – Gabe Kelley – Sr., Wesleyan
FO – Craig Bunker – Sr., Colby
D – John Haire – Sr., Dickinson
D – Matt Rayner – Jr., Middlebury
D – Collin Tokosch – Sr., Salisbury
G – Brewster Knowlton – Jr., WNEC

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