February 17, 2009

Clarkson Gears Up for 50th Season

from press release

This spring, the Clarkson University Men's Lacrosse team will embark on its 50th season of intercollegiate competition. Over the previous 49 seasons, the Golden Knights have applauded 21 All-Americans, nearly innumerable conference all-stars, and plenty of academic all-stars. The biggest cheers over the previous 49 years have come in Clarkson's four NCAA appearances, a goal that the 50th incarnation of the team has in mind when the Liberty League Championships conclude the first weekend of May.

Guided by long time head coach Bill Bergan, a recent inductee into the Upstate New York Chapter of the US Lacrosse Hall of Fame, and assistants Don LaSala and Pat Mullin, the Golden Knights went 9-4 in 2008. The team lost a few valuable contributors to that team, including All-American goaltender Greg Lamb, to graduation, the scoring core returns, and a strong incoming freshman class should bolster a team that is eyeing the Liberty League regular season and post-season titles.

Finding a substitute for Lamb, who may have been decorated with more all-star accolades in a single season than any other Clarkson player in history, could be difficult, but the coaching staff and players have ample confidence in the potential replacements. Senior John Svoren (Hamburg, NY) could take the jump that Lamb did and become one of the top performers in the conference, and though just a freshman, Pat Sweeney (Canton, NY) has taken steps forward in practice and appears ready to play at the collegiate level as well.

Looking to take pressure off the goalie's with a high-powered offense, the attack men have experience and some goals to go after themselves. Senior co-captain Greg Gibbons (Baldwinsville, NY) is one of eight players in Clarkson history to have recorded 100 career goals and he already ranks ninth all-time at the University in points with 156. Though the career record of 288 is out of reach, Gibbons is certainly in line to become just the fourth player ever to record 200 career points. The former conference Rookie of the Year and two-time Liberty League First-Team all-star has to be considered one of the front-runners for conference Player of the Year and could help the team reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004.

Gibbons is hardly a one-man show offensively for the Knights. Classmates Tom Ross (Adams, NY), also a co-captain, and Brian Hoey (Auburn, NY) finished as the second and third ranked scorers in 2008, with Hoey earning 36 points as the team's leader in assists (22) and Ross scoring 24 goals in his 33 points, the second-most scores for the Knights behind Gibbons. Both are looking to join the 100-point club for Clarkson, a group that has just 19 members. With 91 points for Hoey and 78 for Ross, both should reach the milestone before the end of the season.

Several other veterans from last year's squad will look to amp up their production for the 2009 Knights. Senior Tim Leahy (Essex, VT), junior Andrew Bachman (Queensbury, NY) and sophomore Gus Petosa (Chittenango, NY) combined to play in eight games last season and contributed a goal and an assist. Additional goal scoring from that trio would certainly make the Clarkson offense a truly formidable force.

Among the freshmen attack men, there are several potential standouts. Kris Massaro (Allison Park, PA) has a hard heavy shot, and Bryan Huff (Hillsborough, NJ) is a smooth and smart player. Ryan Esposito (Nanuet, NY) should be a solid contributor right away as well, while Mike Ross (Adams, NY), the brother of Tom, has a knack for scoring with impressive size.

Offensive production is not limited to those who purely play attack, as the Clarkson midfielders are capable of putting the ball in the net as well. Senior Jon Cathcart (Homer, NY) ranked fourth on the team in both goals (13) and points (16) as the top scoring threat from the midfield. Senior Kyle Alexander (Clifton Park, NY) played in all 13 games, starting six, and was among the midfield leaders in groundballs with 13, while classmate Erik Hilfinger (Ann Arbor, MI) produced seven goals as a key reserve.

A trio of sophomores saw plenty of time as freshmen and could make an even more substantial impact in 2009. Tyler Long (Liverpool, NY) was the team's fifth leading goal and point scorer as a first-year player, while Mitchel Collins (Baldwinsville, NY) served as a key player for face offs, and the Knights are looking for more in the way of offense this season. Mike Simmons (Clinton, CT) is also expected to step up his play. Other returning players who are looking to earn more time this season are sophomore Evan Miles (Onondaga, NY). Classmate Josh Flacke (Schenectady, NY) played in six games last year but scored a pair of goals and will be looked to for more offense.

The top faceoff men this year will be upperclassmen, making it easier for Clarkson to get on the scoreboard through possession. Senior Cory Schneider (Yorktown, NY) won 45 percent of his face offs last year and he will be buoyed by newcomers junior Conor Leman (Barrington, IL) and sophomore Jon Furgal (New Hartford, NY).

Several newcomers bring different qualities to the fold that should make the Knights midfield a tough one. Freshman Andrew Liptak (Westfield, MA) is very fast and athletic while Corey Flanigan (Rochester, NY) is quick and crafty with plenty of offensive ability. Talon Sprouse (Truxton, NY) owns a deceptive shot and also has plenty of speed to go with plus-athleticism. Also looking to get time in the midfield are freshmen Eric Gollands (Chelmsford, MA), Pat Kilday (Westford, MA), Matt Cyr (Cheshire, CT).

Defensively, Clarkson will be led by co-captain Andrew Kott (Auburn, NY). A pre-season All-American, Kott started 13 times last year and led the team in groundballs by a wide margin with 42. Classmate John Weinhold (Queensbury, NY) was also among the team leaders in groundballs with 25 and he joined Kott in starting 13 times on defense.

Junior transfer Steve Hislop (Fairport, NY) should see time right away as a defender with plenty of experience, while classmate Evan Renwick (Wappingers Falls, NY) already has that experience, starting 13 times as a sophomore and recording 21 groundballs. Sophomore Mike Perkins (Baldwinsville, NY) also handled 18 groundballs, while classmate Dave Chapman (Cazenovia, NY) appeared in three games and is ready for more as a sophomore.

Several freshmen could already be prepared to play at the collegiate level. Chris Gavitt (Rensselaer, NY) is a long-stick middie who will likely play alongside Perkins. Matt Davidson (Hilton, NY) is another fast defender who could earn some starts during the season, and Shane Farrell (Rochester, NY) adds more depth to a youthful defensive corps. Others looking to crack the lineup as freshmen are Zach Williams (Buffalo, NY), Zach Hamelinck (Chittenango, NY), Anthony Fortunato (Norwalk, CT), and Richard Bradshaw (Potsdam, NY).

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