Because of field conditions, PSU's game vs. Saint Anselm College has been moved to Friday, Mar. 12, at Southern N.H. University (7:00 p.m.).
PLYMOUTH, N.H. - After six weeks of indoor workouts, the Plymouth State University men's lacrosse team is slated to open the 2004 spring outdoor season this Saturday with a non-conference game at Saint Anselm College (3:00 p.m.).
The Panthers' opener will mark the debut of new head coach Andrew Brauch, who was an assistant for PSU last season. Plymouth State will also play a road game at Bates College next Wednesday (Mar. 17) before heading to Florida for two contests during Spring Break the fourth week of March.
PSU will have played six road games before the home opener on April 6th against Southern Maine. The Panthers also wrap up the regular season with three straight home games in late April.
The Panthers are coming off a pair of sub-.500 campaigns, but Brauch thinks this year's team should be different.
"We're real excited to start the season," said Brauch. "We have real confidence in ourselves, but will have to work extremely hard to have success. We have a lot of young talent but can't afford to make mistakes."
2004 PSU Men's Lacrosse Outlook
Brauch welcomes back 18 returning veterans from last year, who are joined by six newcomers. They all want an improved team this season, one that can challenge for the upper echelon of the Little East Conference.
"We've got a whole new system, and you can see it starting to click," says Brauch. "The defense should be our strength, but the offense is coming along and they are working together. I think we're good on both sides of the ball."
The Panthers have several returnees to anchor the defense, led by juniors Bill Cosentino (Levittown, N.Y.) and co-captain Bryan Greene (Sudbury, Mass.). Freshman Tim Vasconcellos (East Falmouth, Mass.) makes a nice addition to the group.
"They're communicating well, and are working together well. They all believe in the team system, and I'm comfortable with that group to lead our defense."
Additional defense comes from longstick middies like junior Ryan Cook (Temple, Maine), who has improved greatly and become a team leader, and sophomore Matt Fletcher (West Springfield, Mass.), who can deliver some hard checks.
The two goaltenders return from last season. Sophomore Mike Rodrick (Plaistow, N.H.) started all 15 games and senior Tim McNamara (West Lebanon, N.H.) served as a capable back-up. Both veterans will be pushed for playing time by freshman Steve Valeri (Chelmsford, Mass.).
The offense will be fairly young, but experienced. Both Jon Gagnon (New Bedford, Mass.) and Bobby Dabrieo (Woburn, Mass.) enjoyed solid seasons as freshmen, earning starting jobs and scoring 25 and 24 goals, respectively. They are both hoping for big sophomore campaigns. Junior Pat O'Malley (South Windsor, Conn.), a reserve last season, is looking to move into the starting line-up this spring.
Offensive help in the midfield will likely come from veterans like senior Eric Gobiel (Chelmsford, Mass.) and juniors Steve Skinner (Hingham, Mass.) and John Gallagher (Forestdale, Mass.). Junior Matt McCormick (Sudbury, Mass.) is a strong face-off and ground ball player, and John Padua (Hamden, Conn.), who played a defensive role last season, could contribute more to the offense this year.
"There's an aura around the team that good things are going to happen," says Brauch. "They've committed themselves to working hard, working as a team, having positive thoughts about the year, and turning things around. We know we're going to be a lot better than last year. We just have to focus on not making mistakes instead of trying to make the big individual play."
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