March 4, 2009
NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA-After a successful 2008 season, which ended with a 10-5 overall record, a 3-3 Little East Conference record, the fourth seed in the conference tournament and a home playoff game, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's men's lacrosse team is looking to step up this season, beginning Saturday when they open their 2009 season at MIT. "We had a good season last year, with many sophomores and freshmen playing key roles on our team," said Head Coach Kevin Mahoney. "The development and success of our team has created enthusiasm within the team, and with its leaders."
Three returning players will serve as captains for the 2009 season. They include senior attackman Matt Leary (Framingham, MA/Framingham HS), senior midfielder Steve Colella (Wakefield, MA/Wakefield HS) and junior midfielder Mike Lee (Foxboro, MA/Foxboro HS). The Corsairs will return 20 letter winners and have added 15 newcomers.
Offensively, the team returns four of its top five scorers, including two players from the attack unit who have been starters for the past two years in Leary (26 goals-13 assists-39 points) and junior Andrew Foster (Newbury, MA/Danvers HS, 15-17-32). "The experience Matt and Andrew provide will give us a leg up from where we have been in the past three years," said Mahoney. "Their combination and comfort zone within our offensive sets will enable us to be more aggressive."
Sophomore Josh Arsenault (Revere, MA/Malden Catholic HS), a midfielder a year ago, will be seeing some action at attack as well as midfield this season. One of two returning All-Conference players for UMD, Arsenault will be joined by senior Bobby Young (Billerica, MA/Billerica HS) and freshmen Dan Stefanini (Hopkinton, MA/Hopkinton HS) will provide additional depth at the attack position and compete for playing time.
The top three midfield units return from last year's team, making it a strength. Veterans like Arsenault, Lee, Colella, senior Matt Swirbalus (Weymouth, MA/Weymouth HS), sophomore Bobby Smith (Wakefield, MA/Wakefield HS), sophomore Stephen Espinola (Groton, MA/Groton-Dunstable HS)) and sophomore Nick Campbell (Rutland, VT/Rutland HS) all bring valuable playing experience to the position. Returning veterans senior Jason Febo (Canton, MA/Canton HS) and junior Austin Savoie (Wilbraham, MA/Minnechaug Regional HS) also bring a defensive mind-set to the midfield position, and will help fill various roles.
"Our depth at the midfield position gives us flexibility in establishing roles, and allows us to pursue a quicker tempo in our transition game," said Mahoney. "It should permit us to run without the fear of running our midfielders into the ground." Sophomore Charles Spencer (Shrewsbury, MA/Shrewsbury HS), junior Pat Kohout (Leeds, MA/Northampton HS) and sophomore Domenic Giusto (Boxford, MA/Masconomet HS) will all bring experience and depth to the position. Newcomers, including sophomore Paul Nunes (Mansfield, MA/Mansfield HS), and freshmen Mike Rossman (Norwood, MA/Norwood HS), Joe Devlin (Franklin, MA/Franklin HS), Braxton Campbell (Summit, CO/Silverthorne HS) Christian Roberto (Wakefield, MA/Malden Catholic HS), Dan Feeney (Wrentham, MA/King Phillip HS)), Terrence Dineen (Falmouth, MA/Falmouth HS), Alex Reposa (Shrewsbury, MA/Shrewsbury HS) and Antonio Iannacatio (Pittsfield, MA) will also be in the competitive mix for playing time. The defensive unit will be led by UMass Dartmouth's other returning All-LEC player in senior Tarek Donnelly (Danvers, MA/Danvers HS). He will be joined in the defensive backfield by veterans Paul Hanna (sophomore, Sandwich, MA/Sandwich HS), Robinson Douglas (junior, Grafton, MA/Grafton HS), Brian Webber (sophomore, North Andover, MA/North Andover HS) and Mike Wyche (sophomore, Boston, MA/Cambridge Rindge & Latin HS).
"The defensive unit brings speed and athleticism," said Mahoney. "We lack the depth that we had last year, but this group is stronger and faster than they were last season." Newcomers Eric Hubbard (freshman, Shrewsbury, MA/Shrewsbury HS) and sophomore Jack McCarthy (Salem, MA/Salem HS) will be competing for playing time.
In goal, the Corsairs must replace Steve Chase (Boston, MA/Boston Latin HS), a four-year starter in goal. Chase started all but one game last season and was 9-5 with a .616 save percentage and a 7.41 goals-against average. There are a trio of potential candidates. Freshman Cameron Crown (Walpole, MA/Walpole HS) has been impressive in the early part of the season, according to Mahoney, but freshman Kevin Pelsinski (Merrimack, NH/Merrimack HS, who played soccer in the fall, and freshman Andrew Weaver (Westport, MA/Westport HS) are pressing as well for playing time.
"The most pressing question of the season is whether or not we are going to be able to replace Steve Chase," said Mahoney. "He was a strong stopper, and should have received all-league recognition last season. Cameron (Crown) has stepped up during fall ball and is having an outstanding pre-season and he will start against MIT on Saturday."
The Corsairs open the season on the road Saturday and then return to Cressy Field for their home opener next Wednesday afternoon against Roger Williams. "We will be playing an improved schedule challenging the likes of Salve Regina, Mass Maritime and Mount Ida, and we have added a tough non-conference opponent in New York Maritime" said Mahoney. "I am excited to build on last year's success. With the players we have, and the character they have shown over the past two years, I am eagerly looking forward to the start of the season."
UMASS DARTMOUTH LACROSSE