Spring Preview: Lacrosse
Issue   |   Wed, 02/12/2014 - 00:23

Men

The Amherst men’s lacrosse team starts official practice this weekend as well, looking to build off a 2013 campaign that saw the Jeffs in rebuilding mode.

Amherst returns All-NESCAC senior captain Devin Acton who was one of the league’s offensive leaders last season, along with a host of other contributors who will look to improve on an eighth place finish in the NESCAC last season.

Coach John Thompson, along with the rest of the Jeffs, is very excited about how the offseason has gone.

“I was impressed with the development of leadership across all classes in the off season. It seemed that each class took leadership at different times in the off-season. Recently the 2016 class has really stepped up, but only time will tell whether the leadership shown in times of ease can be replicated when our legs and minds are fatigued during the season,” Coach Thompson said.

“We have a pre-season that is one week shorter than we have ever had. That means more mental focus, more alertness, and more accountability. Those things rely on strong leadership from within, along with a disciplined pre-season,” Coach Thompson continued.

Amherst opens their season March 1 against a Bates squad that finished sixth in the NESCAC a season ago. The Jeffs lost a number of close games last season, and improving in this area was a point of emphasis going into this offseason.

“We have to be better in unsettled situations, both attacking and defending. I’d rather win 14-13 than 4-2 any day of the week, and that means focusing on unsettled and specialty situations,” said Thompson.

Offensively, the Jeffs will look to feed their playmakers Acton, sophomores Dylan Park, Kane Haffey and Quinn Moroney. Acton led Amherst and ranked fifth in the NESCAC with 35 goals on the season. Park, Haffey and Moroney are coming off successful first year campaigns that saw them emerge as offensive threats. Moroney led the Jeffs with 50 points on the year totaling 13 goals and 37 assists.

On defense, Amherst will look to replace several defensive contributors. Danny Gold ’13 was a stalwart at long stick midfield and excellent on both offense and defense. However, Coach Thompson is excited about his replacement.

“We feel like Rob Butko ’16 could be one of the best LSM in the league though when it’s all said and done,” he said.

An interesting position battle is emerging in goal, as sophomore Thomas Gilligan, the team’s starter in a majority of their games last season, has been challenged in an intense competition by first-year Cody Tranbarger this pre-season.

The Jeffs have worked hard on this offseason to be successful, but try not to have expectations.

“Our goal? Bates. March 1st. 1:00 p.m. Pratt Field,” Coach Thompson said.

Look for Amherst to play disciplined, technically sound and exciting lacrosse this season.

Women

After graduating a number of talented players last season, including All-American Hillary Densen ’13, Amherst is looking to build around a talented nucleus of players, including two time All-American Alex Philie ’14.

“We lost three key players in Densen, Wyatt Davis ’13 and Marta Randall ’13, but we are hopeful our talented returning players and great first-year class will fill their shoes,” said head coach Christine Paradis.

As their first official practice is set to start this upcoming Saturday, the Jeffs are excited to begin preparation for their opening game at Bates on March 1. In their lone head to head matchup at the beginning of last season, Priscilla Tyler ’15 was the hero, scoring the game winner with 3:42 left in regulation to give the Jeffs the 9-8 win.

“As coaches we expect the team to work hard, stay in the moment and challenge themselves both individually and collectively to be their best. If we do this — all things point to success,” said Paradis, reflecting on a successful offseason thus far.
Offensively, Amherst will look to replace the production lost from forwards Randall and Denson, two of the team’s top goal scorers.

This year’s team will be led by Tyler, Philie and Meghan Mills ’15, who were three of the other top goal scorers last year. Tyler and Philie also lead the returners with 29 and 28 points last season, respectively. Krista Zsitvay ’14 will join Mills and Philie to form a powerful midfield group.

Defensively, Amherst brings back three of four starters from a year ago. The team will have to replace Davis, but juniors, Heath Cockrell, Kerry Fusco and Fiona Dearth will anchor a very strong defensive unit. They will be protecting goalkeeper Christy Forrest ’16 who started 14 of the team’s games a year ago.

“It has been awesome to witness the team coming together in preparation for the 2014 campaign,” said Paradis regarding the final weeks before the season starts.

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