PLYMOUTH, N.H. - For the first time in more than 20 years, there will be a new head men's lacrosse coach roaming the sidelines for Plymouth State College this spring.
The new era begins with Bob Ewell taking over from Dave Webster, who completed a 21-year career at PSC in 1998 with a 129-113 record. Ewell, a Colby graduate and former head coach at Colby and assistant at Princeton, was as assistant coach at PSC last season.
The Panthers will make their 1999 debut on a team trip next week (Mar. 22-26) during the school's Spring Break. PSC will open Monday (Mar. 22) at Richard Stockton College in Pomona, NJ (3:30 p.m.), and then play Thursday (Mar. 25) at Allentown College in Pa. (3:30 p.m.). The home opener is scheduled for Saturday (Apr. 3) at Panther Field vs. Western New England (2:00 p.m.).
Ewell and the Panthers should have a solid team in '99, with 21 returnees from last year's squad that finished with a school-record 11 victories, an 11-6 record, and a berth in the Pilgrim League championship game.
1999 PSC Men's Lacrosse Outlook
"Our goal is to get back into the championship game, and to win it," said Ewell. "We certainly want to do as well as we did last year. Making the play-offs is an attainable goal, but getting to the championship will be a difficult task."
The Panthers will again be in the Pilgrim League's Northwest Division, with the top two teams from both the Northwest and Southeast advancing to the post-season. PSC won its semi-final game last season at Wheaton, 14-13, but fell at Eastern Connecticut in the title game, 22-10.
Ewell indicated there would likely be a "difference in style. My emphasis is more of a defensive team than Plymouth has been in the past. It's a great advantage having been here last year. I know the players and they know me. Our fall and winter workouts have gone well, and everyone is very excited to get going."
Ewell's team may be more defensive minded, but there should be plenty of offense from the Panther attackmen. Gone is 118-career goal scorer Brendan Burke, but the returnees include senior Josh Perry (Falmouth, MA) and sophomore Jim Martocchio (Simsbury, CT), who turned in two of the best offensive seasons in school history. Perry has led the team in scoring the last two years, and recorded 36 goals and 45 assists last season, while Martocchio had a superb freshman season with a remarkable 53 goals, the single-season school record.
"Martocchio is one of the best I've ever seen around the goal," said Ewell. "He has a great sense around the cage. He's one of those great scorers who sees things in slow motion. Perry's strength is the great balance between feeding and scoring. He is an equally strong threat as feeder and shooter. He is a good, all-around athlete."
Ewell plans to move sophomore J.P.Sallese (Beverly, MA) up to fill the third attack spot. Sallese, who recorded 13 goals and 13 assists as a freshman, is a good ball handler and should provide a balanced attack along side of Perry and Martocchio.
The Panthers should also get offense from midfielders Nate Ostis (Yarmouth, ME), Jon Hunt (Guilford, CT) and Ben Stone (Acton, MA). Ostis, a senior and two-year captain, works on the power play, handles face-offs, scores goals, plays strong defense, and is a team leader. Hunt and Stone , both juniors, are both quick, finesse players with a keen sense for the game. Sophomore Sean Clancy (Penfield, NY) added four goals last season, and should also be a contributor this season.
The defensive midfield unit will include returnees Matt Haskell (Bowdoinham, ME), Kevin Mitchell (Windsor, CT), Tony Bosco (Londonderry, NH) and Matt Dutton (White Plains, NY). Haskell is a strong face-off man, and one of the hardest workers on the team. Mitchell, Bosco and Dutton all saw regular action last season, and should be there again this spring.
The defense should be a strength for PSC, led by senior co-captains Eric Emilo (Middlebury, VT) and Peter Slaski (Bayville, NY). Both have good size, strength, and knowledge of the game, and give PSC an excellent defensive anchor. "Slaski is a very experienced player," said Ewell, "he has good stick skills and some take-away checks, where Emilo has very good speed and is also a real threat offensively. He's an excellent stick handler, someone who we look to on our clears."
Joining that duo will be veterans Sean Murphy (Eliot, ME) and Brian White (Guilford, CT), a pair of big, strong hard-nosed players who have improved tremendously. Both were also in the starting line-up parts of last season, and are fine compliments to Emilo and Slaski.
The Panthers are very solid in goal, with the return of sophomore Nate Pearson (Bow, NH) and junior Kevin Gholami (Uniontown, PA). Ewell has confidence in both of them, although they possess different styles.
"Pearson handles the ball better, and he has great poise in and out of the net," said Ewell. "Gholami is outstanding at stopping the ball, and he has excellent reflexes, but he's less experienced in handling the ball. I expect both of them to play this season."
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