Men's Lacrosse Set to Open 2014 Season
Contact: Ben Badua
AMHERST, Mass. - Posting a disappointing 5-10 record a year ago, the Amherst men’s lacrosse team will hope to rebound in 2014, under the tutelage of four-year head coach Jon Thompson.
With an experienced and talented crop of veterans, the Jeffs will look to build on a competitive campaign that saw them drop five of their losses by just one goal last season, including three in overtime. Posting a 29-20 mark over their first three years, this year’s seniors hope to earn the program’s first NCAA tournament berth since 2011.
“Our goal for the season is to just win the next [game],” said Thompson. “We want to win the next practice, win the next game and take it one day at a time. It all starts with Bates and after that we have Bowdoin.”
Amherst kicks off the 2014 campaign with a home game against the Bobcats on Saturday, Mar. 1. The Purple & White square off with Bowdoin, Eastern Connecticut State and No. 20 Endicott from Mar. 8-14, before playing games against No. 11 Western New England, Hamilton, and MIT in Florida as part of the squad’s Spring Break trip.
The Jeffs head back north to face No. 18 Middlebury and No. 12 Wesleyan on Mar. 29 and Apr. 2, respectively, before playing their first home game in over a month against Colby on Apr. 5. Amherst hits the road for three more against Conn. College, No. 5 Tufts and Springfield, before closing out the regular season against archrival Williams (Apr. 19) and Trinity (Apr. 23).
Returning almost all of its scoring from last season, the Jeff offense should continue to improve after producing 143 goals in 2013. Headlining Amherst’s attack is senior tri-captain Devin Action.
Bursting onto the scene as the league’s Rookie of the Year, Acton has developed into one of the program’s most prolific scorers, tallying 155 career points on 118 goals and 32 assists. Scoring in each of the team’s first 15 games a year ago, Acton finished the year ranked fifth in the NESCAC in goals (35) and ninth in points (44) en route to first-team all-conference honors.
Also back in the fold are sophomore standouts Quinn Moroney ’16 and Kane Haffey ’16. Two of the team’s top scorers a year ago, Moroney and Haffey racked up 50 and 32 points, respectively. Scoring 13 goals, Moroney dished out the second-most assists (37) in the NESCAC last season, while Haffey found the back of the net 25 times, putting 66.7 percent of his shots on goal.
Giving the Jeffs some depth up front are Patrick Routh ’15 and Charlie Gill ’16. Playing in 14 games last year, Routh notched three goals and an assist, while Gill could be more of a factor after seeing limited time as a first-year.
“Obviously we’re led up front by Devin,” Thompson said. “Quinn had a great season as a first-year with 37 assists and we expect the chemistry with him and Kane to continue. Guys like Patrick and Charlie could also work their way into the mix.”
The key to the Jeffs’ transition game, Amherst’s midfield group boasts a host of capable veterans. One of the team’s captains, Aaron Mathias ’14 has been a staple in the Jeff lineup since his arrival. Amassing 40 goals, 10 assists and 24 ground balls during his first two years, Mathias tallied nine points (7 G, 2 A) and tracked down 20 ground balls in 15 games last season.
Part of the Jeffs’ youth movement, Dylan Park ’16 returns after scoring 15 goals with three assists and 13 ground balls in 15 appearances. Fellow sophomore Sam Lawlor also played in each of the team’s 15 contests as a rookie, coming up with six goals and eight ground balls.
Looking to also contribute in the middle of the field, Patrick Moroney ’14 had 13 points (9 G, 4 A) last season, after netting 33 goals during his first two years. Mike Litner ’16 could also see his role expand after playing in eight games last season.
“We’re led in the midfield by Aaron, Dylan and Sam,” Thompson said. “We expect that they will all be making serious contributions. Patrick and Mike could also be key contributors in that position.”
With several familiar faces back in the mix, Amherst’s defense will look to improve on a 2013 campaign in which the team posted a 10.79 goals-against average. Starting 12 of the team’s 15 games, Ryan Cassidy ’16 led the Jeffs with 19 caused turnovers as a first-year while collecting 34 ground balls.
Matthew Virgilio ’15 had 22 ground balls and seven caused turnovers in 15 appearances during his sophomore season, while Kevin Coleman ’14 made 10 starts, gathering 24 ground balls and 15 caused turnovers. Daniel Annino ’16 and Corey Schwab ’15 could also make an impact after seeing significant time last season.
“Ryan is without question one of the guys we’re going to lean on,” said Thompson. “Matt, Dan and Kevin are also important pieces to our defense along with Corey.”
Vying for time in net are Rob Dickinson ’15, Gregory Majno ’14 and Thomas Gilligan ’16. Seeing the most action last season, Gilligan posted a 10.47 GAA and .550 save percentage in 561.44 minutes, while Dickinson logged 271.30 minutes, stopping 52.6 percent of the shots he faced with a 9.94 GAA.