PLYMOUTH, N.H. - There will be a new coach patrolling the sideline next week when the Plymouth State College men's lacrosse team opens its season on a mid-Atlantic states trip during the school's spring break.
PSC opens the campaign next Monday (Mar. 20) at Richard Stockton College in Pomona, NJ (3 p.m.). The Panthers will also take on Southampton College of Long Island University at 3 p.m. next Wednesday (Mar. 22) before its 13-game New England slate begins the following week.
New head coach Nate Ostis is a familiar name to Panther lacrosse fans. He was a standout midfielder for PSC the past four years, serving two years as captain and earning All-New England honors last season. He takes over from Bob Ewell, who departed last season after two years at PSC, one as assistant coach and one as head coach.
"It's a great advantage having been here the last four years," said Ostis. "I know the players and they know me. Our fall and winter workouts have been very productive, and the energy level of the players is driving everyone forward."
Ostis inherits a squad that finished 7-8 overall last season but made its second straight Pilgrim League play-off appearance. A nucleus of over a dozen returnees will be joined by some talented newcomers in 2000, with several players battling for playing time.
2000 PSC Men's Lacrosse Season Outlook
The Panthers will again be in the Pilgrim League's Northwest Division, with the top two from both the Northwest and Southeast advancing to the post-season. PSC lost to Eastern Connecticut in the championship game in 1998, and fell in the semi-finals last season at Babson.
"Ultimately, our goal is to get to the play-offs and come home with a league championship and a bid to the NCAA Tournament," said Ostis.
The Panthers should have plenty of offensive weapons. Career 188-point scorer Josh Perry is gone, but Ostis welcomes back school-record holder Jim Martocchio (Simsbury, Conn.). The junior attackman has had two outstanding campaigns, setting PSC standards with 53 goals in 1998 and 57 goals last year. He's a proven finisher with a true knack around the cage. Joining him will be junior JP Sallese (Beverly, Mass.), who had a breakout season in 1999 with 21 goals and 27 assists. He's a solid all-around offensive player and compliments Martocchio. The third attack position is open with several players looking to establish themselves.
Look for additional offense from a pair of senior midfielders Jon Hunt (Guilford, Conn.) and tri-captain Ben Stone (Acton, Mass.). Both are quick, finesse players with a keen sense for the game. Juniors Sean Clancy (Penfield, NY), a big, physical player, and Tony Bosco (Londonderry, NH), a defensive force, should also be contributors in the midfield.
The defense should be a strength for PSC, led by senior co-captains Sean Murphy (Eliot, Maine) and Peter Slaski (Bayville, NY). Both have good size, strength and knowledge of the game, and give PSC an excellent defensive anchor. Murphy, an All-Conference defensive end on the PSC football team and a Pilgrim League Player of the Week last season, is an excellent one-on-one defender. Slaski is a takeaway defender who plays a strong transition game. Junior Brian White (Guilford, Conn.) is a returning starter and fills the other defensive spot.
The Panthers are looking to fill the vacancy in the goal, as both goalies from last season did not return. Sophomore Jon Clark (Yarmouth, Maine) has emerged as the projected starter.
"We have a unique group of individuals," said Ostis. "We have a lot of respect for one another, and these guys lead themselves in a lot of ways. This is going to be an enjoyable year."
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