March 9, 2014

MD3 Notebook: Cortland's Sacrificial Spring Break

by Jac Coyne | | Coyne Archive | Twitter

Cody Consul (above) and the Cortland offense hasn't been as efficient as head coach Steve Beville would lke, but they'll get an opportunity to correct themselves when they face RIT on Wednesday in the Cathedral of Lacrosse. (Kevin P. Tucker)

Cortland State head coach Steve Beville tries to treat his kids to a spring break trip every year, typically in a warmer clime than what CNY typically dishes out in early March. Maryland has been a destination in the past. So has Virginia.

This year?

The extent of the Red Dragons travel was the sojourn down to Long Island to play a neutral site game against Stevens this past weekend, which they won, 10-5. Granted, the mild weather in Uniondale felt great compared to what most teams have been dealing with – "Fifty degrees never felt so good," said Beville – but Cortland won't be leaving their own state for the entirety of their break. What gives?

It boiled down to a conversation Beville had with his team leaders during the offseason when he was putting together his schedule. The chance to play national runner-up RIT in Syracuse University's iconic Carrier Dome was available, but the only date it would work was on the Wednesday of spring break.

"When I put it to the older guys about this opportunity, they said, 'Absolutely,'" Beville said. "There was not one bit of hesitation to play in the Dome, because you never know when that may happen again."

For most lacrosse players, the Carrier Dome is hallowed ground. The tradition that runs through the Syracuse program and the number of memorable games that have taken place in the facility lend it a gravitas that no other lacrosse venue can match. For guys who grew up in New York – 46 of the 55 players on the Cortland roster are from the Empire State – the venue is even more sacred. And the chance for a small school guy to walk on the same stretch of turf as some of the all-time greats made it a no-brainer.

Running a close second to playing in the Dome for the Red Dragons is getting another crack at RIT. While I have nothing concrete with which to back up the claim, I'd guess many of the Cortland players would give up their spring break for a chance to play the Tigers, regardless of the location.

As you'll remember, RIT ended Cortland's season in the North finals on a flip play in overtime. It wasn't a play dripping with wizardry, but it worked, catching the Red Dragons defense off guard and sending the Tigers to the national championship game. It is remembered in Cortland, and the chance to make amends on Wednesday will be a welcome one.

Beville is a "here and now" guy, and doesn't let seasons bleed together. He regards each campaign as its own unique event that has no bearing on any before or after it. His team is 4-0 this year and RIT is the obstacle that must be overcome to get to 5-0. And if they do reach that record, it will likely be because of the defense, if the first part of the season is any indication.

"Our defense has carried the day for us up to this point," Beville said. "We've struggled a little bit on offense and the efficiency isn't where it should be, but we're averaging 50 shots a game, which is very good. We're just not finishing. The defense is great. They've been very consistent both at the close defense and short stick defensive middie positions."

This is somewhat surprising considering the defense had to be retooled from last year. Senior Stephen Burke has never started a game before this season, but is now one of the key cogs on the backline. Fellow seniors J.T. Foltz and Mike Warner are also holding up well, helped by the play of Scott Tota, who is not too far off (4.63) from his school record goals against average of 4.44 he set in 2011.

It's even more surprising considering that the offense is seemingly stacked with proven premium offensive players from the past couple of years.

"On paper, you would have thought we would have gotten off to a fast start offensively with all of the experience that we have on that side of the ball. But we've been really, really happy with what our defense has been doing."

Beville also knows that the offense will show up eventually.

"I'm not overly concerned with it at this point," he said. "The guys who are down there – [Joe] Slavik, [Matt] Rakoczy and [Cody]Consul, along with a number of older guys, have played in a lot of big games. I'm sure it will come around and we don't really have any excuses for it. We've been around the cage plenty, we just need to button it down and be more efficient with our shooting."

Fortunately, the Red Dragons will get plenty of shots on Wednesday in the Carrier Dome.

"RIT likes to get up and down the field, so I'm sure we'll get plenty of opportunities," Beville said. "They've got good goaltending and they are obviously very dangerous. We're looking forward to the game on Wednesday night. I'm sure it will be a great match-up."

Great enough to give up a spring break.

Lacrosse Magazine's Player of the Week

Andrew Fawkes, Jr., G – Lynchburg
In the first start of his career, Fawkes had to square off with a Gettysburg team looking for a signature non-conference win to bolster its resume. It looked ominous early on when the second and third shots produced goals for the Bullets, but Fawkes settled in and dominated the visitors. He made 12 saves and allowed three goals, blanking Gettysburg for over 48 minutes between the first and fourth quarters, and giving the Hornets an important victory.

Honor Roll
Jason Andrews (Randolph-Macon), Matt Beebe (Keuka), Nico Belardo (Gwynedd-Mercy), Cameron Bell (Endicott), Bobby Bleistein (Conn. College), Richard Cheifitz (Kean), Aiden Daniell (Wesleyan), Patrick Finn (RPI), Tyler Haines (Frostburg State), Jake Holland (Bethany), Tommy Hovey (St. Lawrence), Connor Laughlin (Bowdoin), Jack Lauroesch (Williams), Ben Love (St. Mary's), Kevin Jackson (Roanoke), Tyler Johnston (Cabrini), Tom Kryspin (DePauw), Stephen Latona (Shenandoah), Nick LoCicero (Salve Regina), Tyler McKelvie (Keene State), Ryan Murphy (Springfield), Jonathan Molloy (Swarthmore), Danny Morse (Carthage), Brian Neff (Ursinus), Jon Nessa (Roger Williams), Hunter Nowicki (Washington College), Mikey O'Neal (Otterbein), Nick Pappas (Virginia Wesleyan), D.J. Peters (Bard), Clark Plummer (Rivier), Tyler Rauwolf (Illinois Wesleyan), Franklin Reis (Bowdoin), McHale Schneider (Birmingham-Southern), Chris Scott (Neumann), Sam Seibert (Wesley), Trey Trudell (Kenyon), John Uppgren (Tufts), Derek Youngman (Colby), Mickey Zaverucha (Trinity).

Pool Duty

Pool B
1. Sewanee (3-1)
2. Colorado College (2-2)
3. Eastern (4-1)
4. Otterbein (2-1)
5. Centre (2-1)

Pool C
1. York (5-1)
2. Wesleyan (3-0)
3. St. Mary's (3-2)
4. Bowdoin (3-0)
5. St. Lawrence (2-0)

Slides & Rides

- We're roughly a month into the season and the best conference in the country is...the CAC? Wait, the conference that was once the Webster's Dictionary definition of "top heavy" is now the most complete league in Division III? Right now, it sure looks like it. Combined, the nine teams comprising the CAC are 34-11, and if you take away start-up Southern Virginia, it's 34-5. For comparison, the Centennial is 17-20, the ODAC is 28-17 and the NESCAC is 16-12 (although the NESCAC is already into league play, skewing the numbers).

As one would expect, Salisbury (6-0) is doing its thing, but so far we're seen the ascendency of York (5-1) and Mary Washington (5-0) into formidable programs. The next tier, which consists of Marymount (5-0), Christopher Newport (4-1), Frostburg State (4-1) and Wesley (2-0), is also doing its share. St. Mary's, the defending conference champion and the team that has played the toughest schedule to this point, is 3-2. For many of the CAC teams, the conference schedule opens this coming weekend, so we'll get a better idea of who the contenders are. It starts with a clash between York and Mary Washington, and will likely continue for the rest of the season. There's a long way to go, but the CAC is once again looking like a multi-bid league in '14.

- Last year, Nazareth was sitting at 1-2 to start the season and then proceeded to win 14 of its next 16 games on its way to the second round of the NCAA tournament. Well, the Flyers are once again sitting at 1-2 after losing to St. Lawrence on Saturday, 10-9. The loss was almost a carbon copy of the setback to Springfield in the season opener – dominate most statistics, shoot the ball terribly, fall behind big early, end up losing by a goal.

If Naz wants to follow last year's arc, it'll be far more difficult. In the next 10 days, the Flyers face Bowdoin (3-0), Cabrini (4-0), Stevenson (3-1) and Lynchburg (2-2) – all either on the road or at neutral sites. On the bright side, Naz can hang with all of those teams, so two or three wins in that stretch will get the Flyers right back in the mix.

- Two of the most entertaining games of the weekend involved NESCAC teams. The first was Bowdoin's 17-15 victory over Amherst. It was a see-saw game that featured a five-goal first half lead by the Lord Jeffs that was erased and a two-goal advantage for the Polar Bears with less than 10 minutes to go that also vanished. Tied at 15 with under four minutes to play, Bowdoin's Franklin Reis scored two of his five goals (he also dished out three assists) to give the home team the win.

The other contest was Tufts' wild, 17-16 win over Keene State. Fresh off their 24-6 rout of Middlebury, the Jumbos looked to be in control of this one with a 10-4 lead with under a minute left in the first half. Alas, the Owls scored two goals in the final 15 seconds of the second period and then outscored Tufts 7-0 in the third stanza to take a 13-10 edge into the final frame. The Jumbos managed to pull off the win with a monster third period helped by two of Chris Schoenhut's six goals and two of John Uppgren's nine points. Tyler McKelvie's nine goals paced the Owls.

- Wesleyan got the monkey off their back by beating Bates, 10-6. It was the first time the Cardinal seniors had beat the Bobcats...Franklin & Marshall's 10-8 win over Washington & Lee means the Generals can't afford any more losses in the regular season if they have Pool C hopes. Fortunately for W&L, the ODAC title is still well within the realm of possibility. F&M has an opportunity to stack up four wins heading into the March 29 tilt with WAC...Dickinson had three goals in less than three minutes against Roanoke, but only scored five more in the remaining 57, eventually losing to the Maroons, 11-8. The Red Devils are wobbling right now...Salisbury chewed up Ohio Wesleyan on Sunday, 13-7, despite losing 16-of-22 faceoffs. The Gulls ace FOGO, Chris Biank, was out for the game with an injury, but it's hoped to be a short term malady, according to Salisbury head coach Jim Berkman.

- The Denison-Wooster game was not meant to happen. It will be made up eventually because it's a NCAC league contest, but it's already been postponed twice now after Sunday was a no-go...Ursinus couldn't pull off the upset of Ithaca, losing 6-5, but the Bears showed they are going to be a nightmare in the Centennial. Before they get into the conference slate, Ursinus could give Montclair State a headache on Wednesday...Albright's 12-8 loss to Stevenson was disappointing, especially since the Lions took a 3-0 lead to start the game. Still, Jake Plunket's program isn't too far away from legitimacy...looking forward to seeing what Whitter has in the cupboard this year. Brian Kelly brings his Cali boys east next week, starting this Saturday with a date against King's, followed by games against Eastern and Cabrini.

- Congrats to Nick Coppola and Johnson & Wales (R.I.) for winning the first game in program history, a 13-5 victory over Thomas...Congrats to Tucker Kear and Bard for winning the first game in program history after taking a three-year hiatus...after losing the first 15 games in program history, DePauw is on a two-game tear after dropping Hope, 8-6, on Saturday...Illinois Wesleyan is still undefeated in its inaugural campaign after beating Hendrix, 12-10...keep an on Morrisville State. The Mustangs are 3-0 after downing Geneseo, 9-8, and host Plattsburgh on Wednesday.

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