February 17, 2011

Hobart Opens Against Robert Morris

from press release

GENEVA, N.Y. - The Hobart College lacrosse team will open the 2011 season on Saturday, Feb. 19, when the Statesmen visit Robert Morris University. Twenty-seven returning lettermen and an infusion of young talent will navigate a challenging 14-game schedule that features seven contests at the new Caird Center for Sports and Recreation.

Historic Boswell Field was given a FieldTurf surface, a new 3,000-seat grandstand, lights for night games, and a beautiful new entrance, the Froelich Gatehouse. Additionally, the Topichak Team Room in the Elliott Varsity House was completely redone and made into a space for the exclusive use of the Hobart lacrosse team. Across the hall, the Abraham Sports Medicine Room was expanded to continue to support the medical needs of the HWS student-athletes.

Since returning to campus in the fall, the Statesmen have focused, not only on improving fundamentals and learning new plays, but also on building better team chemistry. The coaches and captains, seniors Evan Kirk and Mike O'Brien, believe this year's team is a tight-knit group; a trait they believe will translate to more success in close games. Hobart was snake-bit in 2010, dropping six games by three goals or less including a 9-8 overtime heartbreaker against then No. 2 Syracuse.

Despite the graduation of leading scorer Kevin Curtin, the Statesmen will be strongest up top. Junior Chris Pedersen is Hobart's top returning scorer. After producing 17 goals and a team-high 16 assists he became just the third Statesman sophomore to be named All-ECAC, joining Chris David '07 and Daryl Veltman '08.

Classmate Sam Miller also returns to the starting lineup after logging 17 goals and four assists in 2010. He's a fearless player around the crease and has taken on more of a leadership role as his confidence has grown.

Senior Tim Bigelow will round out the unit after spending time in the midfield last season. He was fourth on the team with 19 points last year, including 15 helpers. Limited to just 11 games due to injury, Bigelow finished the year 35th in the nation in assists per game (1.36).

Sophomores Tyler Simmons (2-1-3) and David Biegler are battling for time in the mix. Tyler has continued to develop his game after getting a fair amount of playing time as a first-year, while Biegler is healthy after missing last season due to illness. First-year Alex Love is also drawing attention. He's a good shooter and will see playing time. The question is will it be on attack or in the midfield.

The midfield took the biggest hit with the graduation of Tyler Cassell, Mike Lazore, and Mike Suits. Stepping up to comprise the top line in their stead will be senior Mike White and sophomores Tyler Smith and Jake Silberlicht. White was selected to the Iroquois National Team that was supposed to compete in the 2010 World Championships. Although the Iroquois never made it to England due to a paperwork dispute with the British Consulate and the U.S. State Department, White practiced with the team all summer, returning to campus in peak physical condition and brimming with confidence. Smith (3-1-4) is tall and fast, shoots well and is a strong dodger, while Silberlicht displays the kind of versatility that will keep him on the field, playing on offense and defense, and man-down. He'll also take a faceoff from time to time and play on the wings during restarts.

Junior Derek Akner, sophomore Jesse Mancuso, and first-year Cam Stone are penciled in as the second line. Akner is a fast, downhill dodger and an improving shooter. Mancuso is tough and athletic and will see time on both ends of the field. Stone is an exceptional passer, having led Jamesville-DeWitt to the 2010 Class B State Championship with more assists than any player in Section III.

Love will see time on the first or second line, while sophomores David Chakola (0-1-1) and Seth Goldacker, and first-year Jesse Rabishaw will push for time on the No. 2 line.

At the faceoff X, junior preseason All-American Bobby Dattilo returns after ranking eighth in the nation in winning percentage (.578) last season. Seemingly unbeatable at times—he won 14-of-15 faceoffs against Binghamton—he could see more offensive chances this year after producing five points (2-3) in 2010. Dattilo also led Hobart in ground balls (67), ranking 21st in the nation (4.79/g).

First-year Jasper Kubasek will be Dattilo's primary competition at the X and will be used as a change of pace.

Senior Alex Caton will be Hobart's top option at long-stick middie, but first-year James Cunningham has been exceptional in the preseason. Caton was 29th in the nation in ground balls and led the team in caused turnovers (17) last year and could take his ball-hawking prowess to the close defense in certain matchup situations. Like Caton (9-3-12), Cunningham plays defense with one eye on breaking away for a scoring opportunity.

O'Brien, who played close defense during his first three seasons on campus, will move to defensive middie this year. After playing box lacrosse in Canada the past two summers, he's comfortable playing defense with a short stick. He'll share time with classmate Danny Mullin, a smart, hard-nosed player, who can score in transition, and junior Ryan Korn, who's been very strong in the clearing game during the preseason.

Sophomores Sean Regan (12 career starts, 10 GBs, 7 CTO), Reid Rosello (1, 11, 2), and Jake Eisenhard (0, 2, 2), and senior Paul Reintjes (3, 12, 9) will form the nucleus of the close defense. A relatively young unit, their ability to gel quickly will be crucial to the team's success. Their first test, Robert Morris, will be a big one. The Colonials led the nation in scoring offense, assists per game, and points per game last season.

In goal, Hobart will be without the imposing presence of Max Silberlicht. He finished his career first or second on the Statesmen's Division I lists for save percentage (.576), goals against average (9.24), saves (553), and wins (18).

Kirk will take over the starting job. Although he's played just 82 minutes for the Statesmen, it's hardly fair to call him inexperienced. Kirk was the No. 2 goalie for Team Canada at the World Championships last summer. Practicing against some of the best shooters in the world with the Maple Leafs, he earned some quality minutes in Manchester on the way to the silver medal.

Sophomore Jon Lawless and first-year Peter Zonino provide the Statesmen with two quality backups in the cage.

After stops at Robert Morris and Cornell, Hobart will make its Caird Center debut on March 5, when Colgate comes to town. The Statesmen will make the short trip to Binghamton on March 8, before returning to Geneva for a five-game homestand that includes a televised contest against Canisius and concludes with ECAC games against Fairfield and Denver.

After a trip to Ohio State on April 9, Hobart will play three straight televised games, at home for Senior Day on April 16 against Bellarmine, at Syracuse, and at Loyola. The slate concludes in the Mountain Time Zone on April 30, when the Statesmen take on Air Force.

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