January 5, 2012

Dalgliesh, Marywood Ignoring the Cabrini Question

by Jac Coyne | LaxMagazine.com | Coyne Archive | Twitter

Senior attackman Marcus Janda (above) is Marywood's top gun this season, but the offense has a lot of holes to fill if it wants threaten Cabrini -- the CSAC big dog. Scott Dalgliesh, in his first year as head coach of the Pacers, isn't worried about unseating the Cavs at this point.
© Jim O'Connor/NJ Sport Pics

There will be an 800-pound gorilla sitting in Scott Dalgliesh's office this spring. The first-year Marywood head coach will have to wrestle this proverbial silverback at some point, but as he readies the Pacers for 2012, Dalgliesh is planning on ignoring the monster for as long as he can.

The gorilla is, of course, Cabrini. With the unfettered domination that Cabrini has had in the conference – not losing a conference game in 10 years and capturing every single NCAA bid – thoughts of the Cavaliers occupy the offices of all the head coaches in the Colonial States Athletic Conference. Dalgliesh, who was an assistant at Marywood from 2007-09 before trying his hand in the Division I ranks at Lafayette and Brown, gives Cabrini their due, but he doesn't want the quest to beat them to turn into an obsession.

"The Cabrini lacrosse team certainly has this aura in the conference that they are a high and mighty program, and they've certainly earned that right, but my focus with our men has been, essentially, not focusing on them," said Dalgliesh, who was hired in late August. "If we spend all of our time focusing on Cabrini and knocking them off, another team that shouldn't beat us will come along and knock us out of the equation. I've been really trying to de-emphasize that, and focus on the little things that are going to help us to build up to big things."

The decision to ignore Cabrini until game day is a curious one since Marywood poked one of the few holes in the Cavaliers veneer last spring when the Pacers narrowly lost, 9-6, in the CSAC championship game. Marwood and Cabrini were tied with under seven minutes to play, and the three goal differential was the smallest conference victory for Cabrini since 2006 – back when the league was the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference and one of its members was Villa Julie (now Stevenson).

A lot of coaches would trumpet that accomplishment, but Dalgliesh harkens back to a lesson learned during his playing days at Dickinson. Back then, Gettysburg was the undisputed king of the Centennial and, while they weren't as dominant as Cabrini has been, the Bullets were the bullies on the block. The Red Devils head coach, Dave Webster, however, didn't make beating Gettysburg the primary objective.

"Unfortunately, they were the only team we didn't knock off while we were there, but we've taken care of them since then," said Dalgliesh, with a chuckle. "For me, whether it was playing at Georgetown Prep or Dickinson, or working with other coaches since I started in the coaching world, I believe it is more important to focus on yourself and not get wrapped up in somebody else. You have to control the controllables, and what we can control is our work ethic and our details. The little things that make big things happen."

Dalgliesh's unfamiliarity with his team is another reason he isn't eyeballing Cabrini. While the seniors on this year's team played for Dalgliesh when he was an assistant for Mic Grant in '09, there are still plenty of question marks for the Pacers heading into '12. Marywood lost a huge chunk of scoring, including six of the top seven point producers, and there is expected to be a four-way competition to replace goalie Jesse Habich.

The Pacers will be bolstered by a solid defense, led by close defender Nick Johnson, who has been named to a CSAC all-league team in each of his first three years. Marcus Janda (26g, 17a), who transferred from Wagner last year, returns as the leading scorer, while Dalgliesh is expecting a breakout year from junior middie Greg Nester.

"I always tell our men not to expect anything. Just because we've been to the conference championship game in two of the last four years and been to the conference playoffs for four years in a row, it doesn't mean that we'll automatically be back there," Dalgliesh said. "I fully believe that we'll be right there again, and hopefully we'll break through to another level."

Any talk of 'another level' is a subtle reference to Cabrini, but Marywood will have its hands full well before the two teams meet in the regular season on March 28, which will be hosted by the Pacers in Scranton. Marywood will play five teams that posted winning records in 2011, including NCAA participants Amherst (on Long Island) and Scranton, as well as perennial contender Lynchburg.

At this point Dalgliesh is just happy to have his own program. While he dabbled in the Division I realm, he always knew he wanted to be a head coach at the D-III level.

"I believe in that Division III philosophy of being a student-athlete, and not only involved athletically and academically, but involved in the community, as well," said Dalgliesh, who watched his players help flood victims, deliver Thanksgiving meals to the less fortunate and raise $6,000 for HeadStrong during the offseason. "Being involved in all that stuff, or involved in a club or studying abroad, I'm just a big believer in that philosophy. It kind of fits who I am."

Dalgliesh also fits nicely into his office at Marywood, even if it has an 800-pound gorilla sitting in the corner.

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