February 23, 2011

Gettysburg Ready for Messiah Game

from press release

GETTYSBURG, Pa. – Following a season that started with a bang (best ever program start at 9-0), and ended with a pair of playoff losses, the Gettysburg College men's lacrosse team is looking to get back to basics in 2011 and reestablish its preeminence in the world of Division III lacrosse.

Entering the 2010 Centennial Conference tournament with a record of 14-1, 8-0 in conference, the Bullets dropped their final two games, falling to Haverford in the conference finals and Roanoke in the NCAA tournament to finish with a record of 15-3. It was the first time since 2003 that Gettysburg had not won the Centennial Conference championship.

"We need to play our best lacrosse at the end of the year," said head coach Hank Janczyk. "Last year we played OK, but not our best, in the last two games. In 2011, we need to improve on that."

Led by the four senior captains, Tommy Barnett (Greenwich, Conn./Brunswick School), Chris Cahill (Nashville, Tenn./Montgomery Bell Academy), Ben Engleman (Potomac, Md./Thomas S. Wootton), and John Odierna (Oyster Bay, N.Y./Cold Spring Harbor), the Gettysburg players re-dedicated themselves in the off-season, with the goal of starting faster and finishing stronger. "We have made a lot of changes this off-season in terms of our conditioning and lifting in the off-season and how we are going to play," said Barnett. "I think this is the strongest and most conditioned team we have had in my four years here. The end of last season was hard on everyone and I think it led guys to work harder than we have in years past, we have a chip on our shoulder and are out to prove that we are the best team in the country."

In the Division III preseason polls, Gettysburg was picked No. 6 by the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) and No. 7 by Lacrosse Magazine and Inside Lacrosse. The Bullets were also picked second in the Centennial Conference preseason coaches poll, which was released on Monday. Gettysburg, which received four first-place votes, finished just one point behind champion Haverford College in the poll.

Several key players from 2010 are gone, including a trio of All-Americans: Tim Kurpis '10 on defense and Kyle McGrath '10 at the midfield (first-team recognition), and second-team honoree Joe Brody on attack. A host of experienced players return, led by senior midfielder Danno Lynch (Medfield, Mass./Avon Old Farms [Conn.]), an honorable mention All-American, senior defenseman Odierna, a second-team All-Centennial performer, and senior Chris Cahill (Nashville, Tenn./Montgomery Bell Academy) an honorable mention All-Centennial selection. A middie his first three years, Cahill will move to attack in 2011, where he will be the offense's "quarterback." A dynamic catalyst, Cahill is excellent in the Bullets' transition game.

The Bullets return most of their defensive unit, which ranked 12th in Division III in goals against average, allowing a stingy 6.67 goals per game. Odierna and Barnett are returning starters at close defense, and will be joined by junior Billy Grayson (Washington, D.C./St. Alban School), a 6'4" goliath with good feet and a sure stick. Odierna is tremendous on-ball, is the team's best takeaway defender, and a ground-ball vacuum. Barnett has a great lacrosse IQ, and will be counted upon to lead the defense vocally. Freshmen Alec Mitchell (Parkton, Md./St. Paul's School) and Charlie Whiteley (Annapolis, Md./St. Mary's) and sophomore Phil Thompson (Medfield, Mass./Medfield) add depth to the defensive unit, and could be major contributors as they become more comfortable with the team's defensive concepts.

"John Odierna, to me, is one of the finest defensemen in the country," said Janczyk. "He's tall and strong, he has good feet and a great sense of the game, and will be a really fine leader on the defensive end."

Senior longstick midfielder Chris Fumai (Huntington, N.Y./St. Anthony's ) is another returning starter, and he will split time with sophomore Matt Canter (Potomac, Md./Thomas S. Wootton), who is one of the team's hardest workers and best overall athletes. Shortstick defensive midfielder Engleman, who has been a starter for the past two seasons, looks to increase his offensive contribution in transition, while still playing his usually excellent defense. Athletic senior Craig Martin (Reisterstown, Md./Boys Latin School), tough-as-nails junior Matt McMurray (Orangeville, Ont./Hill Academy), and smooth freshman Austin Dodson (Bethesda, Md./Landon) may also see time in the shortstick defensive midfield, and can all push it in transition as well.

Goalie John LeClerc (Acton, Mass./Tilton School [N.H.]) performed well in his first season as a starter as a sophomore last season, starting all 18 games, allowing 6.76 goals per game, and making 150 saves for a 56.6 save percentage. Sophomore J.T. McCook (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep.) and freshman Jon Maddalone (Newtown, Pa./Choate Rosemary Hall [Conn.]) are both pushing LeClerc, and as of Gettysburg's first preseason scrimmage, a starter has not yet been named.

"We have a big, athletic group that I think will gel into a very fine defense" said Janczyk. "We are working through some new concepts that we are very excited about and I'm anticipating a very strong defensive year."

On offense, Gettysburg has a deep and dangerous group, many of whom gained valuable experience in 2010. On attack, Cahill (18 goals and a team-leading 25 assists) will be joined by returning-starter junior Pat Sartory (Ellicott City, Md./McDonogh School). Sartory, an excellent finisher and the team's best man-up player, had 29 goals and nine assists in 2010. Freshman Martin Manilla (Fairport, N.Y./Fairport), who had 100 points for New York Class-A state runner-up Fairport as a high school senior, will be the third starter. Manilla is a solid all-around attackman, who is equally adept at dodging, feeding, and finishing. Junior Dylan Schmitz (Providence, R.I./Moses Brown), a transfer from Bryant University, and freshman Derek Ruebling (Morristown, N.J./Delbarton) are both tough dodgers and strong finishers around the goal, and junior Tyler Feeley (Phoenix, Md./St. Paul's School), freshman Henry Tesar (Lake Bluff, Ill./Avon Old Farms [Conn.]), and sophomore Evan Thomas (Ithaca, N.Y./Ithaca) are excellent feeders.

At the midfield, the Bullets are led by a trio of seniors who each scored in double figures in 2010. Lynch ranked second on the team with 33 goals on 110 shots to go with eight assists in earning honorable mention All-America and second-team All-Centennial honors. Senior Andrew Ryan (Palm Beach, Fla./Westminster School [Conn.]), who shoots 90+ miles per hour with both hands, had 19 goals last year, and his shooting percentage of 40.4 was second-best on the team. Senior J.C. Ward (Setauket, N.Y./Ward Melville) had nine goals and nine assists in 2010 and is poised for a breakout season in 2011 after a fantastic fall. The team's strongest player, Ward has a heavy shot and great field vision. A plethora of underclassmen and one senior are vying for time on the second midfield line, including Ryan Fumai (Huntington, N.Y./St. Anthony's), a transfer from the University of Massachusetts), Bobby DeWees (Wilmington, Del./Wilmington Friends), John Doyle (Bethesda, Md./Georgetown Prep), Graham Franke (Baltimore, Md./Towson), McMurray and Dodson.

At the faceoff X, the Orange and Blue will look to improve upon a team percentage of 47.2 in 2010. Senior Matt Griffo (Babylon, N.Y./Babylon) and sophomore Nick Avedisian (Laytonsville, Md./The Bullis School) return after splitting the majority of the draws last year. Freshmen Joe Clark (Glenwood, Md./Glenelg Country School) and Wes Lincoln (McLean, Va./Landon [Md.]), and Jamie Pezza (Warrenton, Va./Highland School), a transfer from Hofstra University, could be in the mix as well.

In 2010, the Bullets' schedule was ranked by the Laxpower.com ratings to be the sixth most difficult in Division III, and it doesn't get much easier in 2011. Of the team's 15 opponents, five finished 2010 ranked in the USILA top-20 poll, including non-conference powers Salisbury (No. 2), Cortland (No. 3), and Cabrini (No. 8), and Centennial Conference rivals Dickinson (No. 7) and Haverford (No. 11).

Gettysburg's Centennial Conference schedule also figures to be difficult, with all eight opponents finishing 2010 ranked in the top-54 according to the Laxpower.com computer rankings. Figuring to be one of the team's more formidable conference opponents is Haverford, which returns most of the team that won its first ever Centennial title and reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament last season.

The Bullets play their season opener on Wednesday, when they are at Messiah College in a non-conference affair starting at 4 p.m.

Centennial Conference Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Haverford College (5), 61 pts.
2. Gettysburg College (4), 60 pts.
3. Dickinson College, 50 pts.
4. McDaniel College, 38 pts.
5. Ursinus College, 31 pts.
6. Franklin & Marshall College, 30 pts.
7. Muhlenberg College, 23 pts.
8. Washington College, 20 pts.
9. Swarthmore College, 11 pts.

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