November 3, 2010

Bryant Men Release Schedule, Captains for 2011

from press release

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Head coach Mike Pressler is pleased to announce the 2011 Bryant University men's lacrosse schedule, a slate that features eight home games as the Bulldogs enter their first year of full Division I membership and postseason eligibility.

The 2011 campaign also marks the first season in which the Northeast Conference will sponsor men's lacrosse and the first time there will be a conference postseason tournament in the sport. The NEC will not receive an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament until the 2013 season, but Bryant is eligible to play for an at-large tournament berth for the first time in 2011.

After an impressive 12-5 season in 2010 – the Bulldogs have recorded at least 10 wins in each of the program's first two Division I seasons – Bryant will again face off against top-level competition in its first official DI season.

"There are a number of the exciting things about the schedule this season," said Pressler, entering his fifth year at the helm of the Bulldog program. "We will see some new opponents in 2011. The NEC finally gets to play as a conference and determine a champion in a conference tournament at the end of the season. Plus we get to play in some great local rivalries both on the road and at home."

The 16-game schedule is split down the middle for the Black and Gold, who will host eight contests in Smithfield, R.I. and spend eight on the road, traveling to such top-tier opponents as Drexel, Hobart and Stony Brook. The 2011 season features a home slate that will bring such familiar foes as Army, Fairfield, Yale and Brown back to the Bryant campus.

"In our third year at the Division I level, we are going to play 16 games and no spring scrimmages," said Pressler. "Our objective is all about experience at the Division I level."

Bryant will open the season in Philadelphia – the first of two trips to the City of Brotherly Love – on February 19, taking on Saint Joseph's University before returning to The Ocean State for its home opener a week later against Fairfield University (Saturday, Feb. 26, 1 p.m.).

March play opens with a trek up to Burlington, Vt. to face off against the Catamounts on March 5 (1 p.m.) before the Bulldogs return to Smithfield for one of the season's marquee matchups: a faceoff against 2010 NCAA qualifier Army on Friday, March 11 (12 p.m.). Bryant has played the Black Knights in each of the last two seasons, and the 2011 bout marks the first return trip for Army, who visits Rhode Island for the first time in the growing rivalry.

Bryant will have a quick turnaround from there, getting just two days of rest before touching down in Philadelphia once more, this time against Drexel, who earned time in the national spotlight last season, consistently earning a place in the top-25 rankings.

The Black and Gold next travel to Geneva, N.Y. to play Hobart (March 19, 1 p.m.) at Boswell Field before returning to Smithfield for the first of two intrastate rivalry matches, when the Bulldogs will welcome Providence College to the Bryant Turf Complex (March 22, 7 p.m.). Bryant will follow up the heated exchange with a trip to Stony Brook University to take on the second of three 2010 NCAA qualifiers on the Seawolves' home turf to round out March action.

April 2 will see the Bulldogs greet their first-ever official Northeast Conference contest, as Quinnipiac enters Smithfield for a 1 p.m. faceoff. The month will feature matchups against the four other NEC teams in Wagner (April 9 in Staten Island, 1 p.m.), Sacred Heart (April 16 in Fairfield, Conn., 1 p.m.), Robert Morris (April 23 at home, 1 p.m.) and Mount St. Mary's (April 30 in Emmitsburg, Md., 1 p.m.).

Scattered among the league matchups are Bryant's final three non-conference games, starting with one of the most anticipated battles of the season April 5, when crosstown rival Brown University visits the Bryant campus (7 p.m.). The Bulldogs will also host Holy Cross (April 12, 7 p.m.) and Yale (April 19, 7 p.m.) before wrapping up the season. Bryant earned its first-ever win over a nationally ranked opponent against the Elis in 2010, taking a 9-7 win over then-No. 9/11 Yale in New Haven.

"We are taking two trips to Philly early in the season, first to Saint Joe's and then again to take on an outstanding Drexel team," said Pressler, "and then the highlight of our early home schedule is challenging NCAA quarterfinalist Army for the first time at home. Certainly Stony Brook, another NCAA quarterfinalist team, on the road will be a tough matchup that we look forward to, and then we're excited for these terrific local rivalry games against Brown, PC, Yale, Fairfield and Holy Cross.

"And of course we look forward to playing the teams in the Northeast Conference," he added. "This is the first of our two-year probation period as a league, and we have to play as a conference for two seasons before getting the AQ. But speaking for our entire program, we are absolutely thrilled to be playing for a conference title and a shot at being selected as an at-large team for the NCAA Division I tournament."

The Bulldogs will be led toward their first chance at a Division I title by a strong quartet of captains, as elected by the team following the fall season. Stepping up the challenge of leading the program in its first year of Division I eligibility are seniors Anthony Iannello (Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y.), Joe Rauchut (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Rob Maiorano (Easton, Conn.) and junior Jameson Love (Darien, Conn.).

"It is with great pleasure that I introduce our four captains for the 2011 season," said Pressler. "These four will be leading us through our first year playing in the NEC and first season being Division I eligible."

The only repeat captain, Iannello returns to the leadership role after being the sole junior captain on the 2010 squad. A 17-game starter in 2010, he picked up 46 ground balls as a longstick middie – good for fourth on the team – and recorded a goal and an assist on just seven shots on the year. A tenacious and aggressive player on both sides of the ball, Iannello forced 16 caused turnovers as a junior, the second-most of any Bulldog. A 2010 first team all-conference and second team all-New England selection, Iannello stands at the heart of the team both on and off the field and embodies what it truly means to be a Bulldog.

"I am so thrilled for Anthony to once again be selected by his peers to represent the Bryant men's lacrosse program as one of our four captains," said Pressler. "I don't think there is a player in our program who represents the values we are trying to establish more than Anthony Iannello."

Love, a starter in goal since arriving on campus as a freshman, is the only junior captain in the quartet, but has earned his place over the past two seasons. The team's most vocal leader, he backs it up with some of the nation's top numbers between the pipes. In playing all but two minutes in goal for the Black and Gold, Love finished the year with a 6.51 goals against average that led the nation and posted a .587 save percentage that ranked second in the NEC and seventh among all DI goalies at season's end. His 158 saves rank third among NEC teams as he added 48 ground balls (third on team) and caused seven turnovers.

"Jameson has earned such a deep respect from his teammates on so many different levels," said Pressler. "He has certainly earned it as a player, but even more importantly, he has earned it as a young man who is a fiery, emotional and very vocal leader."

A transfer from the Naval Academy as a sophomore, Maiorano has had a huge impact since joining the program, not only on the field, where he appeared in all 15 games of the 2009 season, but away from the game as well. Maiorano appeared in just a single contest last season, the season opener against then-No. 4 North Carolina, before suffering a season-ending injury, but it wouldn't keep the longstick middie from becoming a true leader on the squad.

"What a tribute to Rob, being elected captain even though he hasn't suited up in a Bulldog uniform since last February," said Pressler. "He has been rehabbing his injury since then, and Rob's perseverance, his effort in the weight room and the total example that he sets has impressed us all."

A senior defenseman who has appeared in every game of his collegiate career, starting all but one, Rauchut steps into the shoes of graduated two-time All-American Matt Murnane to lead the Bulldog backline in 2011. Third all-time in the program records with 36 career caused turnovers, Rauchut has picked up 58 ground balls over the last three seasons.

"Another captain at the defensive end, Joe has played nearly every minute of every game over his past three seasons," said Pressler. "His experience playing at a high level sets him apart, and he is yet another player who sets a positive example in so many ways both on and off the field."

The inaugural Northeast Conference Tournament will be held on May 7-8, hosted by the tournament's highest seed.

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