Panthers gearing up for 2018
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University men's lacrosse team was picked to finish fifth in the Little East Conference (LEC) according to the Preseason Coaches' Poll following a vote of the league's eight head coaches.
Keene State College, the defending regular season and tournament champions, were the unanimous choice to win the LEC in 2018. The Owls have won the last four LEC Tournament championships. Eastern Connecticut State University and the University of Massachusetts Boston were tied for the second spot, with Western Connecticut State University receiving the final first place vote and finishing fourth in the voting.
Plymouth State holds the fifth spot, with the University of Southern Maine, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Salem State University rounding out the last three spots.
Last spring the Panthers posted an overall record of 9-8, while finishing 4-3 in conference play to earn the third seed for the LEC Tournament. PSU knocked off sixth-seeded Western Connecticut, 14-11, at home to advance to the semifinal round for the eighth time in nine seasons under head coach Gordon Webb. Plymouth's season came to a close with a semifinal loss to second-seeded UMass Boston.
"I'm excited to see how the chemistry has come together," said Webb. "In the early preseason everything has looked very good, but we haven't been challenged by an opponent yet," he added. "We're still unproven."
Webb will look to senior co-captains Cam Cormier (Auburn, Maine) and Drew Lederer (Jefferson, Mass.) to provide valuable leadership. The two will lead a deep group of midfielders, which Webb expects to be the strength of the team.
Also expected to contribute at midfield are juniors Sam McCoy (Marriottsville, Md.) and Trevor Barrett (Amherst, N.H.), and freshman Sam Danberg (Northborough, Ma.). McCoy earned LEC Rookie of the Year honors in 2016 after swallowing up 38 ground balls, the second highest total on the team.
Offensively Webb expects big things from junior attacker Chris Waterbury (Clinton, Conn.), the team's top returning scorer. Waterbury ended last season with 19 goals and five assists. Classmate Ryan Croatti (Brunswick, Maine) saw limited action last spring, though Webb has been impressed with his ability to finish in the early going.
One area that will be noticeably different is in the goal, where the Panthers will be forced to replace the graduated Jayson LaRiviere, who had started 29-of-32 games over the past two seasons. Junior Zel Kerkel (Penacook, N.H.) has made an impression with Webb.
"Zel [Kerkel] has worked his butt off," praised Webb. "He's made amazing strides since his freshman year."
Also competing for time between the pipes will be junior Patrick Griffin (Sandwich, Mass.) and freshman Robert Porter (Groveland, Mass.).
Faceoff specialist Kyle Stockman (Ballston Lake, N.Y.) returns for his senior campaign after winning 199-of-340 faceoffs last season. He owns a career .544 faceoff percentage.
Webb also expects contributions from junior Sean Peet (Glen Cove, N.Y.), who Webb calls the defensive leader, and junior Casey Elkins (Stow, Mass.), who finished fourth on the team with 27 ground balls last season.
"We have good talent," said Webb. "It remains to be seen how that talent translates throughout."
The Panthers open the 2018 campaign at the University of New England on Mar. 3. PSU's home opener is set for Mar. 31 against LEC foe Western Connecticut in a game to be played at the Holderness School's Robert T. Low Turf Field.
2018 LEC Men's Lacrosse Preseason Coaches' Poll
(First Place Votes in Parentheses)
|1||Keene State (7)||49|
Note: Coaches are not permitted to vote for their own team.
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