PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Led by a pair of record-breaking scorers and a head coach back for his second season, the Plymouth State College men's lacrosse is prepared for another strong and exciting season in 2001.
The Panthers open the campaign with a trip into lacrosse territory along the middle Atlantic states. PSC will battle Richard Stockton College in Pomona, N.J., in an annual affair next Monday (Mar. 19) in the opener, then return to New England to face Colby College next Thursday (Mar. 22) under the lights (7:30 p.m.) at Harvard University.
Head Coach Nate Ostis will be patrolling the sidelines for his second season. He has a solid combination of veterans and newcomers gearing up for the campaign in what will be a new conference for the Panthers. Ostis welcomes back offensive record-breaking seniors Jim Martocchio (Simsbury, Conn.) and JP Sallese (Beverly, Mass.).
The switch from the Pilgrim League to the Little East Conference has little change to the Panthers' schedule, but it does impact the program as PSC attempts to qualify for the NCAA Division III tournament. As a first-year conference in the sport of men's lacrosse, the Little East champion will not yet be eligible to be awarded an NCAA automatic bid until the 2002 season. Thus, the Panthers must qualify for this year's NCAA tournament on an at-large basis.
"From year to year our goals remain very much the same." said Ostis. "Ultimately, we want to reach the playoffs and come home with a conference championship and bid to the NCAA tournament." 2001 P.S.C. Men's Lacrosse Outlook
The Panthers, who captured Pilgrim League post-season berths the last three seasons, return 15 veterans with a dozen talented newcomers. PSC finished with a 10-6 overall record in 2000 with a 6-1 league mark, losing to Springfield in the conference tournament semi-finals.
"Offensively, we're loaded with firepower," said Ostis. "Our goaltending is very strong, and despite our defense being inexperienced, they are a surprisingly stable unit that allow themselves to be students of the game. The entire program is confident heading into this season and we believe we'll be stronger than last year."
Leading the Panther offense is pre-season All-American attackman Martocchio, who is coming off a sensational year in 2000. He scored 100 points, leading the nation with 86 goals, and was named Pilgrim League Player of the Year. Martocchio has 196 career goals and owns every PSC goal scoring record and is looking for a dynamic senior season.
Martocchio's main set-up man is Sallese, who set the PSC single season assist mark last season with 54. He has scored 60 career goals and 94 assists, and needs 56 assists to match the PSC all-time assist record.
The Panthers return a strong core of midfield players including senior Tony Bosco (Derry, N.H.) and junior Andy Quesnel (Middlebury, Vt.). Bosco and Quesnel combine their defensive forces with offensive finesse. Look for additional offense from a pair of sophomore midfielders Jason Biedrzycki (Amherst, N.H.) and Ken McGuire (Wayland, Mass.). This duo made a powerful presence and great contributions during their freshman campaigns.
Leading the defense from inside the goal is junior tri-captain Jon Clark (Yarmouth, Maine), who was named All-Pilgrim League in 2000. Clark has razor sharp instincts when shot at in tight and a laser outlet pass that creates an exciting fast break game. He posted an 11.97 goals against average with an impressive .630 saves percentage.
At Clark's side anchoring the defense is PSC's best body-to-body defender, senior tri-captain Brian White (Guilford, Conn.) and senior Sean Clancy (Penfield, N.Y.). Joining them this year is newcomer Mike Bicchieri (Londonderry, N.H.). Although the squad has limited experience together, all three have good size, strength, and knowledge of the game.
"This is a solid group of individuals," said Ostis. "We have a lot of respect for the game and for one another, and these guys are only willing to strive for the best. This is going to be an exciting season."