PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The 2009 men's lacrosse season at Plymouth State University officially gets underway next Tuesday, Mar. 10, when the Panthers travel to Colby College in Waterville, Maine, for a non-conference debut.
PSU begins a new era in the program this season as Gordon Webb has taken over as head coach. A member of the New England Lacrosse Hall of Fame and a former player at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and coach at Boston State College, Webb took over from Andrew Brauch, who stepped down last spring after five seasons on the Panther sideline.
The Panthers will be back in the Granite State for their second game on Monday, Mar. 16, facing Saint Anselm College at The Hampshire Dome in Milford, N.H. PSU plays a 13-game regular season slate this spring, with three games in April scheduled for Panther Field.
There are six Little East Conference contests on the schedule, starting with road games at Western Connecticut the last Saturday in March and Eastern Connecticut the first Saturday in April. The annual LEC Tournament begins on Tuesday, Apr. 28, with the champion being crowned on May 2 and receiving an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.
2009 PSU Men's Lacrosse Outlook
Coach Webb (right) takes over a program that has won 23 games over the past two seasons and made two ECAC post-season berths. PSU was 11-6 in 2007 and won the ECAC New England Tournament Championship and tied the school record for wins last season with a 12-7 record.
The Panthers have 17 returning veterans from last year's squad, including one All-Conference performer, along with over a dozen newcomers. Webb has been impressed with the attitude and work ethic of the team during preseason.
"These guys come to work every day," said Webb. "They push every minute of every practice. I have been super-pleased with their attitude. Now we need to see some outside competition to see who we are as a team. We've been going against each other and we need to go against someone else to see what we're made of."
Webb says the team is well-manned with a solid line of attack and two strong offensive midlines, but that depth may come into question. The defense is looking good, according to the coach, and there's competition going on for the goaltender's job.
"We've been working together as a team on both sides of the ball," said Webb. "I don't think we can afford injuries, but if everyone stays healthy, we're in good shape."
Junior attackman Brian Giroux (Wolfeboro Falls, N.H./Brewster Academy) returns after earning Second Team All-Conference honors last season. He led the team with 39 goals and was second with 52 points. Joining Giroux in the attack zone for PSU will be senior Dan Maiorana (Walpole, Mass.), a four-year veteran, and sophomore Andrew Eriksen (Beverly, Mass.), who scored 14 goals as a rookie last year. Junior Adam Rothbart (Portland, Maine/Deering) gives PSU a veteran attackman off the bench.
Coach Webb has confidence in the top group of midfielders, which include juniors Steve Engel (South Windsor, Conn.), Matt Johansmeyer (Shelburne Falls, MA/Mohawk Regional), Tim Hadley (New London, N.H./Kearsarge), and Brett Zebrowski (Bayville, N.Y./Locust Valley) and seniors Jordan Buzzell (Bath, Maine/Morse) and Conor McCullough (Dover, N.H./Oyster River). Engel was the top scorer among the group last season, and Engel and Hadley are top face-off men. McCullough was second on the team in ground balls with 67.
Juniors Sam Lemanski (South Hadley Falls, Mass./South Hadley) and Josh Michaud (Barrington, N.H./Dover) and sophomore Jesse Holland (Winchester, Mass.) are top defensive middies, according to Webb, and junior Derick Smith (New London, Conn./Kearsarge) and sophomore Justin Dube (Buzzards Bay, Mass./Bourne) are the team's top long-stick middies.
Webb will look to juniors Mackenzie Cayer (Berlin, N.H./Merrimack Valley), Logan Irish (Somers, Conn.) and Mike Ricca (Branford, Conn.) to backbone the Panther defense, and senior Tim Nicholson (Franklin, Mass.) and freshman Will Morningstar (Hopkinton, Mass.) provide the team with solid reserves.
Sophomore Billy Morgan (Winchester, Mass.) is PSU's returning starter in goal, but is recovering from offseason surgery. Sophomore Kevin Hayes (Beverly, Mass.) saw some action last year and has the inside edge on the starter's job, says Webb, but freshman Jack Tyo (East Sandwich, Mass.) is pushing for the job and freshman Mike White (Derry, N.H./Pinkerton) is in there as well.
"Our main goal, both individually and collectively, is to become as good as we're capable of becoming," said Webb. "What that translates into as far as wins and losses is only a side benefit. We're working hard every day to become as good as we are capable of, and if we can do that, we'll take the results."
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