Lax to get back on track with big win, tough competition

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The men’s lacrosse team started their season strong with a dominant 19-7 win. Head Coach Marc Graham has scheduled games against top-tier teams to prepare the Brewers for Liberty League play. Photo courtesy of Vassar Athletics

The Vassar men’s lacrosse team is off to a successful 2016 season with a huge 19-7 victory over Western Connecticut State Uni­versity. According to freshman goalie Matt Boyd, “The game went well. I think we domi­nated in every aspect: we were about 90 percent successful on face-offs, a lot of our shots were dropping, our offense was running well and our defense worked well together.” This significant win over Western Connecticut State evidences major improvement from last season. In 2015, the Brewers inched out the Colonials by only one goal and this year Vassar triumphed by an astonishing 12-goal differential.

The team expects high energy, intensity and a positive attitude to place them on track for suc­cess. Junior captain Brandon DeStasio shared his excitement about the team chemistry on and off the field: “We have a relatively small roster which allows us all to be very close. I don’t think there is a closer team on campus.”

While tight-knit, the team is very young, with only three seniors and a large freshmen class. Nevertheless, the boys have high hopes for the freshmen. “Our freshmen class brings a lot of talent. We have a bunch of guys who are going to contribute and make an impact this season,” stated DeStasio. Freshmen Dekker Stebel, Evan Burns and Liam Neville have already proven this, all scoring in their first game of the year. Fellow freshmen Drew Adams and Pat Gibbons also contributed with assists in their first collegiate match. Stebel noted, “As an individual, I hope to contribute as much as I can and truly give the seniors a season to remember. Overall, I hope to watch our team achieve our full potential.”

In addition to the skilled freshmen class, the lacrosse team also welcomes back many starters. Senior captain Noah Parson has proven to be a crucial member of the squad year after year. Par­son was awarded Liberty League Honorable Men­tion last season after he broke Vassar’s goals per season record with 35 goals. Other strong contrib­utors include juniors Liam Moriarty, Chris Bil­lups, Sam Houston-Read, Brandon Klein, Gianni Gelormino and Eric Prezioso, who all started in a majority of the games during their 2015 season.

This year, the Brewers have two talented goal­ies, junior Brandon Crecco and freshman Matt Boyd. Crecco played in eight games last year, making 35 saves, and looks to continue being a dominating presence in goal this year. Boyd also shows promise for the program, making two saves in his first collegiate contest. While they have many talented individuals, Coach Graham shared, “The most important thing is playing well together. While we have some talented guys, we do not have anyone that is going to do it by them­selves. So we are going to play a team offense and a team defense.”

In the past, the team’s cohesiveness has led to much success. In the 2015 season, the team round­ed up 110 caused turnovers, 481 ground balls and 169 goals as a cohesive unit.

Together, the members of the men’s team hope to trump more League competitors this year. The men had a tough 2015 season, falling to ev­ery team in the Liberty League except for Bard College. However, the players are keeping their heads high. Stebel explained, “We are all looking forward to this being our breakthrough season.” The team hopes to redeem themselves against conference opponents such as RPI and Clarkson, who bested them during very close matches in 2015—the RPI Engineers defeated the Brewers by merely one goal in the last 21 seconds.

To prepare for tough Liberty League competi­tion, Coach Graham has scheduled 12 non-confer­ence games against some of the toughest teams in the nation. “If we do not play hard non-con­ference games, we will not be ready for our conference games,” elaborated Coach Graham. The Brewers will face Montclair State Univer­sity, Connecticut College and Williams College to name a few. These non-conference contests will take place early in the season and continue through Vassar’s spring break. The team hopes that these tough non-conference matchups will prepare them mentally and physically for their conference games—Coach Graham stated that the Liberty League is one of the toughest con­ferences in the country. In fact, the boys will face Rochester Institute of Technology, who is cur­rently ranked third in Division III.

As the season progresses, the players hope to grow and make improvements as a team. Boyd elaborated, “When thinking about improvement, I think we need to focus on communication; Coach Graham has really stressed that, especially on the defensive end.” Meanwhile, DeStasio ex­plained, “We understand we have a tough sched­ule, and to succeed we need to compete for a full 60 minutes every game.”

As they continue to improve, the lacrosse team shows promise for a victorious season. The men’s next game will be held on Wednesday, March 2 in Montclair, N.J., versus Montclair State University. Hailing from Essex Fells, N.J., Boyd is particularly excited to play the Red Hawks: “I know a lot of kids on the team because I went to high school with a bunch of them, so I definitely want to beat them. I think it should be a really fun game.”

While the boys are eager for non-conference games, they are most looking forward to their League contests. “We are most excited to get to our League games. The Liberty League is very competitive and we’re determined to improve our League play,” explained DeStasio. For the remainder of the season, the Brewers will host League battles against Skidmore, Clarkson, Roch­ester Institute of Technology and Bard College. The team’s first League game is on March 26 ver­sus the Skidmore Thoroughbreds at Weinberg Field.

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