February 25, 2009

Janczyk: 'We've Got To Stay Humble'

from press release

GETTYSBURG, Pa. - "We've got to stay humble."

Those were the words of Gettysburg College men's lacrosse head coach Hank Janczyk prior to the 2009 season, in the midst of soaring preseason expectations for his club.

Coming off one of the finest seasons in school history, the Bullets, who are celebrating their program's 50th anniversary, are the unanimous pick to finish first in the Centennial Conference and are ranked No. 2 nationally by a host of publications and organizations, including the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA), Inside Lacrosse's Face-Off Yearbook, Lacrosse Magazine, Laxnews.com, and CaseyPowellLacrosse.com/JustLacrosse.com.

Such lofty predictions come on the heels of Gettysburg's 17-3 (7-1 CC) campaign a year ago in which the team tied the school record for victories, won its fifth straight Centennial Conference title, and reached the semifinals of the NCAA Division III tournament for the second year in a row.

What's more, the Bullets bring back seven starters and five all-Americans from a team that had eventual national champion Salisbury University on the ropes twice last season, including a double-overtime loss in the Final Four.

So while the temptation may exist for his team to enter the season feeling overly confident, don't expect Janczyk's group to take much stock in the early prognostications.

"We've been talking a lot about a set of result- and task-oriented goals," said Janczyk, who enters his 22nd year at the helm. "What are the tasks that you're doing that are making you a better player? Those are the things that keep you humble, because they're hard to do.

While the Bullets may lose only three starters, all three earned all-America honors a year ago and will leave a void to be filled. The most significant loss was left by Andrew McGann '08, a three-time all-American and the 2008 Division III Defenseman of the Year. The Bullets will also miss their second- and third-leading goal scorers, respectively, in midfielder Ben Sufrin '08 and attackman Trip Dyer '08. In addition, graduation claimed defensive midfielder Stu Whelehan '08 and attackman Jared Harriman '08, each of whom were all-Americans a year ago.

"I'm optimistic because of our commitment to fundamentals," said Janczyk, who enters 2009 as the fifth all-time winningest coach in NCAA (all divisions) history with a career record of 314-94 (269-70 at Gettysburg). "We're a little banged up, and in our first couple of games, we may not have everybody back, but fundamentally we're going to be solid, and that always gives us a chance to win."

On the attack, the Bullets return their top goal and assist producers, respectively, in junior Joe Brody (Bethesda, Md./Walter Johnson) and senior Zach Pucci (Ridgewood, N.J./Ridgewood).

Following an outstanding freshman season, Brody followed up with an even better sophomore campaign last year, firing in a team-leading 51 goals - the most by a Bullet in six years - to earn First Team All-Centennial Conference and USILA Second Team All-America honors. A clutch performer, he forced overtime in two different NCAA games with a pair of last-minute goals.

"I would expect him to keep on the same road he's been on the last two years," said Janczyk on Brody, who was named a Face-Off Yearbook Second Team Preseason All-American. "He's a very hard worker and a focused young man. I think his work ethic is the key to his success and I expect that to continue."

Pucci established himself as Gettysburg's top playmaker in 2008, dishing out a team-leading 30 assists to go with 14 goals.

A number of players will vie for the third starting attackman job, including junior Josh Reichert (Englewood, Colo./Kent) senior Danny Collura (Cincinnati, Ohio/St. Xavier), junior Kjael Skaalerud (Denver, Colo./Denver East), sophomore John Doyle (Bethesda, Md./Georgetown Prep), and freshman Tyler Feeley (Phoenix, Md./St. Paul's School). Of the five, Collura brings the most experience, having scored 16 goals over 27 games for his career.

In the midfield, Gettysburg returns senior Tom O'Donnell (Montgomeryville, Pa./La Salle College), who in his first year as a starter was the team's fifth-leading scorer last season, posting 21 goals and 21 assists to garner Second Team All-Centennial Conference and honorable mention all-America distinction. He enters 2009 as a Face-Off Yearbook Preseason First Team All-American.

Senior Drew Duckworth (Rye, N.Y./Hotchkiss School [Conn.]) is also back in the midfield after starting every game last season. Duckworth was Gettysburg's fourth-leading goal scorer a year ago, finding the back of the net 28 times. The remaining midfielder spot will likely be filled by junior Kyle McGrath (Randolph, N.J./Randolph), who closed the year on a flurry last season, scoring 10 of his 19 goals in the team's five postseason games.

Other midfielders who will provide additional options include sophomores Chris Cahill (Nashville, Tenn./Montgomery Bell Academy), Andrew Ryan (Palm Beach, Fla./Westminster School [Conn.]), Danno Lynch (Medford, Mass./Avon Old Farms [Conn.]), Ben Engleman (Potomac, Md./Thomas S. Wooton), and Alex White (Easton, Conn./Joel Barlow). In addition, freshmen Graham Franke (Baltimore, Md./Towson) and Brendan Goldstein (Glen Ridge, N.J./Glen Ridge) could see playing time.

On defense, where Janczyk says the Bullets may start four players, senior Yanni Peary (South Portland, Maine/Cape Elizabeth), and junior Tim Kurpis (Yorktown, N.Y./Yorktown) return as starters. Peary was named both second-team all-conference and honorable mention all-America last season and is a Face-Off Yearbook Second Team Preseason All-American. Among the frontrunners to fill in for McGann include junior Scott Manniello (Huntington, N.Y./Cold Spring Harbor), sophomore Alex Cole (Rumford, R.I./Moses Brown), and sophomore John Odierna (Oyster Bay, N.Y./Cold Spring Harbor).

Gettysburg also brings back an incredibly talented long-stick midfielder in senior Tommy Kehoe (Coraopolis, Pa./Sewickley Academy), who was a second team all-American last year and was selected as a first-team preseason all-American this season. Sophomore Tommy Barnett (Greenwich, Conn./Brunswick School) will provide backup at long pole.

The Bullets are also equipped with a pair of experienced goalies, led by senior Zach Furshman (Miami, Fla./Kent School [Conn.]), who led the Centennial Conference and finished ninth in Division III in goals-against average (6.60) in his first year as a starter en route to his honorable mention all-America selection. He will be spelled by classmate Charles Floeckher (Lutherville, Md./Boys Latin School), who earned all-conference honors at Kenyon College before transferring to Gettysburg, where he started the first six games between the pipes last year. Senior John Gilfillan (Moorestown, N.J./Moorestown) gives the Bullets yet another solid backstop.

Senior Tim Stanton (Phoenix, Md./Loyola Blakefield) is back after seeing the bulk of the action as the team's face-off specialist last season. Other Bullets who could see time at the X are sophomores Matt Griffo (Babylon, N.Y./Babylon) and Luke Santoro (Townsend, Mass./Deerfield Academy), who missed the entire 2008 season with an injury.

The Bullets will be challenged often this season against one of the most demanding schedules in Division III. Of the team's 15 opponents, six are ranked among the USILA Top-20, including non-conference powers Salisbury (No. 1), Cortland (No. 3), Cabrini (No. 5), and Stevenson (No. 8). The Cortland game will be played on Long Island at John J. Burns Park in Massapequa, N.Y. on March 7.

Gettysburg's Centennial Conference schedule also figures to be as tough as it's ever been, and will include a pair of top-10 opponents in No. 6 Washington (Md.) and No. 12 Haverford.

The Bullets play their season opener on Saturday, when they host Hampden-Sydney College at 1 p.m. in a non-conference showdown.

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