PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Plymouth State University men's lacrosse team will play the first seven games of the 2008 season on the road, beginning this Saturday, March 8, with a non-conference encounter at Nichols College in Dudley, Mass.
The Panthers are optimistic this spring after a successful campaign in 2007, one that included an 11-6 overall record and an ECAC New England Championship. Led by fifth-year head coach Andrew Brauch, PSU will be looking for its third post-season berth in four years this spring.
PSU will make a three-game road trip during the school's spring break, starting on Cape Cod for a game at Massachusetts Maritime on Mar. 15, moving on to Eastern University (Pa.) on Mar. 17, and finishing up at Richard Stockton University (N.J.) for a Mar. 20 contest. The Panthers will play road games back in New England at Lasell College (Mar. 26), Western Connecticut State University (Mar. 29) and Eastern Connecticut State University (Apr. 4) before the scheduled home opener against Clark University on Apr. 8 at Panther Field.
PSU has six Little East Conference games on the slate, starting with the Western and Eastern Connecticut road contests. The annual LEC Tournament is the first week in May, with the winner receiving an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.
2008 PSU Men's Lacrosse Outlook
The 11 wins for PSU in 2007 was one short of the school record. Coach Brauch (right) said that winning the ECAC title should help this year's team.
"Last year gave a lot of our younger guys a taste of the playoffs and what it takes to win," said Brauch. "We had a lot of freshmen who played last year, and we're expecting a lot from them now as sophomores, and we're hopeful that that experience will lead to an LEC Championship."
The Panthers have many of the top offensive players back from last season, but will have to replace several key starters on defense. Brauch says depth should be the strength this spring.
"Our depth is better than ever," said the coach. "We have several guys that we can rotate in that are capable of starting. There's not much difference between the starters and the back-ups."
The Panther offense should be led by senior Adam Krinsky (Concord, N.H.), a three-time All-Conference selection. He is one of the school's all-time leading scorers with 77 goals and 81 assists, and led the team in scoring last season with 22 goals and 30 assists.
"Adam is a two-year captain and four-year starter and a tremendous leader," said Brauch. "He's like having another coach on the field. We'll rely on him for both scoring and leadership."
Several newcomers are likely to join Krinsky on the front line. Sophomore Brian Giroux (Wolfeboro Falls, N.H./Brewster Academy), a transfer from Bryant University, and freshman Andrew Eriksen (Beverly, Mass.) have looked strong in pre-season. Freshman Teddy Akriviellis (Dover, Mass./Dover-Sherburne) could also be in the mix, as well as veterans Dan Maiorana (Walpole, Mass.) and Adam Rothbart (Portland, Maine/Deering).
PSU lost only one player from last year in the midfield, and Brauch is confident in the group of returnees. Seniors Tony Aguiar (Northboro, Mass.) and John Cogswell (Jefferson, Mass./Wachusett Regional) and sophomores Tim Hadley (New London, N.H./Kearsarge) and Matt Johansmeyer (Shelburne Falls, MA/Mohawk Regional) should be the top players. Sophomore Kyle Belanger (Southington, Conn.), who moves from attack to midfield, sophomore Steve Engel (South Windsor, Conn.) and junior Conor McCullough (Dover, N.H./Oyster River) should also be solid contributors. Sophomore Brett Zebrowski (Bayville, N.Y./Locust Valley) and freshman Sam Waszkelewicz (Glastonbury, Conn.) could also see playing time.
Senior co-captain Mike Russell (Concord, N.H.) leads the group of long-stick middies. Russell led the team in ground balls last season with 54. Sophomores Derick Smith (New London, Conn./Kearsarge) and Logan Irish (Somers, Conn.) will also help out, according to Brauch.
Senior co-captain Kyle Shea (Wrentham, Mass./King Philip) is the top returnee on defense and should lead the Panthers. Freshman Jason Shinkwin (Nashua, N.H./Bishop Guertin) and sophomore Tyler Snow (Loudon, N.H./Concord) are strong newcomers who add a lot of physical play, according to Brauch. Sophomore Mike Ricca (Branford, Conn.) and freshman Ryan Schneeloch (Glastonbury, Conn.) will also be in the defensive rotation, and sophomore Jon Walsh (Trumbull, Conn.) will also help out.
There are two freshmen battling it out for the starting goalie spot, Billy Morgan (Winchester, Mass.) and Kevin Hayes (Beverly, Mass.) Both are capable of handling the job, according to Brauch, and both will get a chance to prove themselves.
The Panthers will have to overcome the loss of three key starters on defense, goalie Steve Valeri and defenders Tim Butler and Tim Vasconcellos.
"We're young and somewhat regrouping on the defensive side of the ball," said Brauch, "but we think we have enough depth all over the field to have a good season and challenge for a Little East Conference title."
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