PLYMOUTH, N.H. - It looks like a good blend of veterans and newcomers for the Plymouth State College men's lacrosse team in 1998, as the team gets set to start play in the new Pilgrim Conference.
Veteran coach Dave Webster returns for his 21st season, and he has a roster that has 15 returning players from last year's squad, but one that also has 11 freshmen and six sophomores among the 28 players.
The Panthers will find out what they have during the opening week of the season, as the team takes a trip south during PSC's spring break. They open next Monday (Mar. 23) at Richard Stockton College in Pomona, NJ, followed by games Wednesday (Mar. 25) at Catholic University in Washington, DC, and Friday (Mar. 27) at Allentown College in Center Valley, Pa.
"It's a pretty good trip for the guys," said Webster. "They play a lot of lacrosse, and it kind of bonds the team. It gives the coaches a chance to get to know the players a little bit better, somewhere besides the lacrosse field. Stockton has been an ECAC Tournament Team the last four years, so we'll have some tough games."
The New England schedule begins March 31st at Eastern Connecticut, with the home opener slated for Monday, Apr. 6th, against Salem State, both games in the Pilgrim Conference. The new league is broken down to two divisions, with PSC, Eastern Connecticut, University of New England, Keene State, Salem State and UMass Dartmouth in the Northwest, and UMass Boston, MIT, Wheaton, Mass. Maritime, Western New England and Clark in the Southeast.
The top two teams from each division will qualify for the post-season tournament, with the second place teams playing at the first place teams from the opposite division in the first round.
"We're excited about it," said Webster about the Pilgrim Conference. ""We plan on going to the play-offs and see what we can do. The way it's set up, there's an opportunity for the two best teams to meet in the finals, even if they're in the same division. I expect we will be one of them."
1998 P.S.C. MEN'S LACROSSE OUTLOOK
Webster is hoping the pre-season trip will lead to a post-season trip. "If we can do well in our league," said Webster, "and do well against some of the tough non-conference schools we play like Colby and Bowdoin, we have the potential to go someplace, like the ECAC or even the NCAA Tournament."
Webster thinks the team will be strongest in the defensive end of the field.
"That's where most of our veterans are," said Webster. "Our starting defense is two juniors and a senior. I think we're going to be pretty strong defensively."
Leading the way will be senior captain Brooks Parker (Hingham, MA), a three-year starter, and juniors Eric Emilo (Middlebury, VT) and Peter Slaski (Bayville, NY). All three have excellent size (Emilo is 6'2", 210 pounds, Slasky is 6'1", 200, and Parker is 6'1", 170), strength and experience at the collegiate level. They will be backed up by sophomore Sean Murphy (Eliot, ME) and freshman Brian White (Guilford, CT).
The defense will be playing in front of a new goalie, as both Panther goalies are newcomers. The likely starter is freshman Nate Pearson (Bow, NH), who played in the New Hampshire/Vermont All-Star game last season for Concord H.S. Sophomore Kevin Gholami (Markleysburg, PA) could see playing time as a back-up.
Webster will turn to freshmen Mike O'Leary (Stony Brook, NY) or Kevin Mitchell (Windsor, CT) as a longstick midfielder, while shortstick middies include senior M.C. Malboeuf (Laconia, NH), junior Matt Haskell (Bowdoinham, ME), sophomore Matt Dutton (White Plains, NY) and freshman Tony Bosco (Londonderry, NH).
When it comes to midfield offense, the Panthers are hoping for strong years from junior captain Nate Ostis (Yarmouth, ME), sophomore Travis Moore (South Berwick, ME), and freshman J.P. Sallese (Beverly, MA). PSC can also look to veterans Jon Hunt (Guilford, CT) Ben Stone (Acton, MA) and Joe O'Brien (Needham, MA), and top freshmen Sean Clancy (Penfield, NY) and Jason Arbusto (Huntingtown, MD).
The Plymouth State attack has senior captain Brendan Burke (Beverly, MA) and junior Josh Perry (Falmouth, MA) as key returnees. Burke is a natural scorer and has counted 82 career goals, while Perry led the team in scoring last season with 27 goals and 13 assists. Webster plans on using freshman Jim Martocchio (Simsbury, CT) as the third player on attack.
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