October 20, 2013

Bellarmine's Haas Strong at HEADStrong Classic

by Mark Macyk | LaxMagazine.com

© Mark Macyk

PHILADELPHIA -- Will Haas is still in college partially because he broke his foot during the fall of his freshman year. That was five years ago, so the foot's all healed up now, which is good because Haas has some big shoes to fill.

Haas, Bellarmine's fifth-year senior goalie, looked sharp at Saturday's University City Classic, hosted by the Headstrong Foundation and the University of Pennsylvania. In the morning game, he kept Bellarmine within a goal at halftime against Drexel, which pulled away in the second half against BU's younger players, and then helped the Knights defeat Hobart in the afternoon.

This was encouraging news for Bellarmine, because Haas is taking over for All-American Dillon Ward, who led the nation in save percentage last year and was just drafted by the Colorado Mammoth.

The funny thing is that on the first game last season, it was Ward who took over for Haas.

Haas learned the night before the 2013 opener that he'd begin the season splitting time with Ward. He made four saves and exited at halftime with the Knights down, 7-4, against Robert Morris. Ward came in and stopped nine of 10 shot and Bellarmine rallied for a 9-8 win. One week later the big Canadian made 18 saves in a 12-6 win over Michigan and that was that.

"I was frustrated for about a week," Haas said. "But then you watch a goalie have that kind of season and you can't be that mad."

Now, because of the redshirt, Haas, an Ohio native who appeared in one game in each of the past four seasons, has a chance to make his own similar out-of-nowhere impact on the NCAA.

"I almost beat out who I think is the best goalie in the country," Haas said. "I was only one half away from being the starter. It's definitely a confidence booster."

The added confidence should come in handy because Haas said a year of watching Ward made him realize he needed to be more communicative with his defenders.

"I'm trying to get out of my shell and talk a little bit more," Haas said. "One thing he was better than me at was being a leader and demanding more from the defense."

Ward was on the sidelines watching on Saturday as his alma mater from Louisville hung with some of the Northeast's top programs. Bellarmine coach Kevin Burns called Ward "the best goalie in the world" but was quick to note that the Knights have always believed in Haas.

As for Haas -- who ended up breaking his hip after returning from that freshman foot injury, then blew out his hip again the next year -- he's feeling good. He changed his diet and the injuries stopped coming. Looking back, they might even have been a blessing.

"It's a silver lining," Haas said. "I got the one year without Dillon around."

Raymond A Model Statesman

Before he was starring at Johns Hopkins, or playing professionally in the MLL, or running the defense at Princeton and Drexel, Greg Raymond was just a kid in Corning, N.Y. Then a local Hobart alum put a stick in his hands and sent him down that lacrosse road.

So when the opportunity to run the Statesmen came up this summer, Raymond said it was a no-brainer to accept his first head coaching gig.

"Everything came into play," Raymond, who grew up about an hour from Hobart and is married to an alum, said. "Hobart's a place I've known forever. It was a perfect scenario to lead a great group of guys, to be the head of a great tradition and program and to make my own mark on that tradition. It was too good of an opportunity to pass up."

Saturday was an up and down day for the Statesmen, who surprised the host Quakers by a few goals in the morning game, then fell big to Bellarmine in the afternoon.

Hobart went 6-8 last year and has not had a .500 season since 2009, but Raymond said his new group has plenty in common with the one he coached at Princeton last year.

"The similarities between teams are uncanny really," he said. "We have a lot of the things that we need in terms of hard work and leadership on this team. All we're trying to do is help them realize how consistent they need to be in order to be successful on Saturdays in the spring."

Enter the Dragons

Fresh off an 11-4 season that saw his team end the year ranked in the Top 20, Drexel coach Brian Voelker said only a few of his players are locked into starting spots.

"The other guys have to come in and step up and say, 'Hey coach, this is what I want to do. This is how hard I work. This is how I want to help our team win games,'" Voelker said.

Two players that have just done that this fall are sophomores Hank Brown Jules Raucci, who Voelkler said have improved immensely since their freshmen seasons.

On Saturday, the Dragons ended their fall slate with a sizable win over Bellarmine followed by a sizable loss to Penn. In the first game, the Dragons were able to slay the Knights thanks in part to the steady second-half play of redshirt freshman goalie Henry Buonagurio, who kept Bellarmine's second unit completely at bay until the game was out of hand. Drexel has five goalies on its roster, including last seasons's starters, sophmores Cal Winkelmann and Will Gabrielson.

"We're figuring things out," Voekler said. "That's what the fall is about."

Headstrong and Penn Team Up

On Saturday, Nick Colleluori, No. 27, would have turned 28.

On Colleluori's birthday, in the shadow of Penn Tower where he received treatment before losing his battle with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, the foundation he started kicked off a brand new event with four lacrosse scrimmages and capped it off with a day of service. After the games concluding, the Headstrong Foundation served dinner to families at UPenn Hospital and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

As at the Colleluori Classic two weeks ago, the Headstrong Foundation honored players present who were their own teams' "Nick Colleluori". The winners were Penn's Maxx Meyer, Drexel's Brendan Glynn, Hobart's Cam Stone and Bellarmine's Brogen Hill.

Bellarmine had an extra connection to the day, as they remembered coach Jack McGetrick, who lost his battle with prostate cancer in 2010.

"It was a no brainer for us to come out here and participate in this tournament," said Burns. "Helping these causes is something near and dear to our hearts.

Burns said he hoped in future years his team would continue to make the trip from Kentucky to Penn Park, Penn's impressive new athletic venue, which could host as many five games simultaneously. Pat Colleluori, Nick's brother, said he could envision the University Classic becoming the biggest Division I event on the Headstrong calendar.

The teams present at the inaugural classic seemed amenable to that.

"We try to help those guys as much as we can," Voekler said "Great teams, great weather. It's a great event."

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