April 21, 2011

Detroit Goes from 1-7 to MAAC Daddy

by Chris R. Vaccaro | LaxMagazine.com

Starting the season with the likes of Delaware, Ohio State and Maryland contributed to Detroit Mercy's 1-7 start, but the Titans have rebounded and can clinch the MAAC regular season title with a win over Marist.

© Kevin P. Tucker

It took an extended stay at an airport after a loss to Jacksonville in late March for the Detroit Mercy men's lacrosse team to come together. But it worked and a 1-7 start aside, the Titans have a shot at entering the MAAC tournament as the top seed.

Seventeen hours of bonding -- after their DVDs grew boring and electronic devices could not keep them occupied -- turned to discussions about their strengths and weaknesses on the field.

A month later, if they beat Marist (2-2 conference, 5-6 overall) on Saturday, the Titans (4-1, 5-8) could pull off the epitome of a roller coaster season. After the 1-7 skid, they managed to win four of five against teams like Siena, Manhattan, Virginia Military Institute and Canisius.

Detroit coach Matt Holtz said he knew scheduling Delaware, Ohio State and Maryland to start the season presented a difficult challenge.

"It's about believing," he said, "and emphasizing what we're doing well."

What exactly are they doing well?

"I can't say we've done anything all year consistently," he said. "We've showed signs of great things."

Holtz is specifically happy with play from his short-stick defensive midfielders. To him and this group of players, it's where everything starts. Between junior captain Brad Janer and freshman Nick Garippa, the two have served as catalysts.

Holtz said his team has been completely focused on Marist.

"They have the ability to take it to us, or we could hang with them," he said. "It's all a matter of how we are prepared."

Siena sits in second with a 3-1 conference record and 9-3 overall mark. Its only conference loss was a 13-11 defeat to Detroit.

Mount St. Mary's, Bryant leading NEC

Mount St. Mary's sits atop the Northeast Conference with a 3-0 record, followed by Bryant (2-1) and Quinnipiac (2-1). The Mount still has games against Wagner and Bryant, which also plays Robert Morris. According to an NEC official, the conference will undergo a two- to four-year waiting period before having an automatic qualifier for the NCAA tournament.

Until then, the conference winner will have to hope for an at-large bid, which is unlikely.

Stony Brook on top of America East

Barring setbacks against Albany (0-3) and/or Vermont (1-2), preseason favorite Stony Brook (3-0) should win the America East Conference again this season. Hartford and UMBC, who play each other in the regulars season finale, follow with 2-1 conference records.

Stony Brook's Kevin Crowley and Adam Rand were both named among 25 remaining Tewaaraton Trophy nominees this week.

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