PLYMOUTH, N.H. - If the weather cooperates, the Plymouth State University men's lacrosse team will get the 2007 season underway this Saturday with a game against Castleton State College, to be played at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester (4:00 p.m.)
The Panthers will head south next week for the annual trip to Florida, where they will face Plattsburgh State University and Clarkson University on March 17 and 21, respectively. Then there are 11 more regular season games back in New England beginning the last week of March.
PSU has six Little East Conference games on the slate, starting with a trip to Western Connecticut State University on March 31. The home opener on April 4 at Panther Field is against LEC foe University of Southern Maine. The annual LEC Tournament is the first week in May, with the winner receiving an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.
Led by fourth-year head coach Andrew Brauch (right), the Panthers have 18 returning veterans and a solid group of newcomers. PSU is looking to be a strong challenger in the Little East Conference and improve on last year's 8-9 overall record.
2007 PSU Men's Lacrosse Outlook
The coach says the team is not talking about winning this time of year, but rather hard work, discipline, and the team concept.
"We're going to pride ourselves on those three things," says Brauch. "We're focusing on each practice and each game and focusing on the little things, and winning will take care of itself. The team has a family atmosphere; they believe in each other, they push each other, and everyone on the roster has a chance to contribute in some way."
The Panthers have a deep and talented roster, according to Brauch, with strong balance all over the field. Defense, as it usually is, should be PSU's strength.
Leading the Panther defense will be senior defenders Tim Butler (Concord, Mass.) and Tim Vasconcellos (East Falmouth, Mass.) and senior goalie Steve Valeri (Chelmsford, Mass.). Butler was a First Team All-Conference selection last season, Vasconcellos was a Second Team pick two years ago, and Valeri is a four-year starter in the Panther goal. They have been the heart of the defensive unit for years, and are primed for a big senior season.
Junior Kyle Shea (Wrentham, Mass./King Philip) has emerged as the third probable starter on defense for the Panthers. Freshmen Mike Ricca (Branford, Conn.), John Walsh (Trumbull, Conn./Trumbull) and Colin Salko (Trumbull, Conn./St. Joseph) and sophomore Chris Graveline (Feeding Hills, Mass./Agawam) will also log time on the defensive end of the field. Senior Nick Grobe (Winchester, Mass.) serves as the back-up goalie.
Junior Adam Krinsky (Concord, N.H.) is a two-time All-Conference attackman and should spearhead the Panther offense. He was a Second Team All-LEC choice last season after putting up 59 points (24 goals and 35 assists), and is on pace to become one of the school's all-time scoring leaders. A trio of freshmen attackmen - Wes Downing (Glastonbury, Conn.), Alex Blanco (Stratford, Conn./St. Joseph) and Kyle Belanger (Southington, Conn.) will join Krinsky in the offensive end.
The Panthers have plenty of depth in the midfield, with junior Tony Aguiar (Northboro, Mass.) and senior Kyle McKay (Longmeadow, Mass.) the top returning veterans. Junior John Cogswell (Jefferson, Mass./Wachusett Regional) returns after missing all of last season with an injury, and junior John Brule (Northboro, Mass./Algonquin) and sophomore Jordan Buzzell (Bath, Maine/Morse) are also experienced veterans.
A host of newcomers will also see action in the midfield, including freshmen Tim Hadley (New London, N.H./Kearsarge), Matt Johansmeyer (Shelburne Falls, MA/Mohawk Regional), Joe Cameron (Southboro, Mass./Algonquin), and Brett Zebrowski (Bayville, N.Y./Locust Valley), sophomore Dave Mokos (Londonderry, N.H.), and junior transfer Doug Malloy (Londonderry, N.H.).
Midlfielders who will focus on defense, according to Brauch, include senior Nick Duffy (Peterborough, N.H.), junior Craig Maheux (Laconia, N.H.), and freshmen Steve Engel (South Windsor, Conn.) and Sam Lemanski (South Hadley, Mass.). Long stick middies include junior Mike Russell (Concord, N.H.) and freshmen Logan Irish (Somers, Conn.) and Derick Smith (New London, Conn./Kearsarge).
"We play a competitive schedule, so we can't overlook anyone," said Brauch, "but there's not a game on our schedule we can't win. We'll focus on the Little East games, and hopefully we'll be challenging for the top."
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