PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The 2010 Plymouth State University men's lacrosse season officially gets underway this Sunday, Mar. 14, when the Panthers travel to Connecticut College in New London, Conn., for a non-conference debut.
Sunday's contest will be the first of seven straight road games for PSU to open the season. The Panthers make trips to Colby College, Castleton State College, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Babson College and Clark University for non-conference affairs in the month of March, followed by a visit to Western Connecticut State University the first Saturday in April for the Little East Conference opener.
PSU will have four regular season home games this spring, beginning on Sunday, Apr. 11, vs. Eastern Connecticut State University. There are 14 games overall on the regular season slate as the campaign winds up on May 1.
The annual LEC Tournament begins on Tuesday, May 4, with the champion being crowned on May 8 and receiving an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.
2010 PSU Men's Lacrosse Outlook
Plymouth State will be seeking its fourth consecutive post-season berth, having competed in the ECAC New England Tournament the past three years. PSU is also out to challenge for the top of the Little East Conference, a goal that second-year head coach Gordon Webb (right) thinks is possible to reach.
The Panthers have more than 20 returning veterans from last year's squad, including five All-Conference performers. Webb is excited about his team's outlook in the preseason.
"We're ahead of where we were last year at this time, both offensively and defensively," said Webb. "We're handling the ball better, making sharper passes. Last year, we had no experience at all on defense; this year, they're all back, so we feel very good about our defense, and we're solid in goal."
Webb said the Panthers are preparing to challenge for the LEC title after finishing fourth during the regular season a year ago and getting knocked out in the semifinals of the LEC Tournament.
"We want to be in the mix for that LEC title," said Webb. "The players believe they're in the hunt, and that's a major portion of it."
PSU has two returning All-Conference selections on defense in seniors Logan Irish (Somers, Conn.) and Tim Nicholson (Franklin, Mass.) Classmate Mackenzie Cayer (Berlin, N.H./Merrimack Valley) is also a returning starter and will be a key factor. Coach Webb says fellow seniors Jon Walsh (Trumbull, Conn.) and Mike Ricca (Branford, Conn.) will also be in the mix for significant playing time, and freshman Paul McInerney (Scituate, Mass.) has been impressive and could be a factor as well.
The Panthers have three returning goalies with experience, as Webb says they are battling for the No. 1 spot. Junior Kevin Hayes (Beverly, Mass.) saw the most action last year, and classmate Billy Morgan (Winchester, Mass.) has been a part-time starter the past two years. Sophomore Jack Tyo (East Sandwich, Mass.) gained experience last season and is pushing for the job this spring.
"All three of them have their strengths," said Webb. "I wish I could combine the strengths of each of them and make one outstanding goalie, but we're going to be in good shape no matter which one is in there."
Senior Derick Smith (New London, Conn./Kearsarge) is a returning All-Conference selection as a long-stick middle. He led the team in ground balls last season and gives the Panthers a veteran presence. Sophomore Jared Woodell (Glens Falls, N.Y.) has made major strides and could help out, and senior Sam Lemanski (South Hadley Falls, Mass./South Hadley) could contribute if he stays healthy.
PSU has a host of players who can carry the load in the midfield, led by senior four-year veterans Matt Johansmeyer (Shelburne Falls, MA/Mohawk Regional), Tim Hadley (New London, N.H./Kearsarge), and Steve Engel (South Windsor, Conn.). Hadley and Engel are top face-off men, and Hadley finished second on the team last season with 20 goals. Webb says freshman Ty Long (Dover, N.H.) is an outstanding addition to the midfield unit, and senior Adam Rothbart (Portland, Maine/Deering) and freshman Mike Ventura (Columbia, N.J./North Warren Regional) could contribute either on attack or in the midfield.
The Panthers will look to senior Brian Giroux (Wolfeboro Falls, N.H./Brewster Academy) and sophomore Andrew Eriksen (Beverly, Mass.) to lead the offense. Giroux was a Second Team All-Conference selection in 2008 after scoring 39 goals and led the team in scoring last year with 28, while Eriksen scored 14 goals as a freshman and followed with 20 last year. Both are potential big scorers, according to Webb, and both can distribute the ball as well. Sophomore Teddy Akriviellis (Dover, Mass./Dover-Sherborn) has been a catalyst during the pre-season and should help speed up the Panther offense.
"We have a good group of veterans with solid collegiate experience," said Webb, "and our freshman class has really come along. They have excellent skills and abilities and a commitment to the game. They will help not only this year but they're setting the stage for a bright future."
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