By Jim Wrobel
Special to GoHolyCross.com
The 2012 Holy Cross men's lacrosse team returns 26 letterwinners and five starters from last season (2-13 overall, 1-5 Patriot League), as the Crusaders concluded the 2011 campaign by winning two of their last five games. Holy Cross also returns its top six point producers and has added 16 new players to the roster.
The team is very excited to start the season. "We have 10 seniors who are all experienced, strong and ready to lead our team in 2012," said second-year head coach Jim Morrissey. "Everyone has put in a lot of hard work in the fall and winter. So now we want to see the fruits of our labor."
Morrissey is very happy with how the team has prepared for the season. "Our fall season was great," said Morrissey. "We spent much more time in the weight room. The team was in the weight room three days per week to become a stronger more physical team to compete in the Patriot League. And our 16 newcomers to the team gained valuable experience at the Catamount Classic where we played Sacred Heart and Brown."
The Crusaders will be led by their three captains, senior A.J. Guarente (Gaithersburg, Md.), senior David Henry (Davidsonville, Md.) and junior James Kennedy (Summit, N.J.). "The captains bring experience, attitude and overall ability," said Morrissey. "Henry is our best defender, Guarente is our top face-off man and Kennedy quarterbacks the offense. So our captains provide leadership and strength in the three most important phases of the game."
Morrissey is also very happy with the attitude of the team. "I think these guys already have winning attitudes," said Morrissey. "They are winning kids on and off the field. And most of them come from winning programs in high school. Overall these guys already are winners in the way they work at practice and support each other on and off the field as a team."
The Crusaders return a ton of experience on offense, but Morrissey sees being successful offensively as a total team effort. "A lot of our success will depend on the time of possession we can gain through face-off wins and our defense picking up ground balls and clearing it down to our offense," said Morrissey. "And then our offense needs to not turn the ball over and make every possession count."
Morrissey sees a strength of the team is its play at midfield. "I really like the depth at midfield, which is a very important position in lacrosse to have depth," said Morrissey. The Crusaders were fourth in the Patriot League with 26.60 ground balls per game last season, and Morrissey hopes the team can continue to improve. "Losing a defensive player like Douglas Broussard hurts because he was so strong on picking up the ball off the ground, but with our increased strength from our weight room work I feel we can be even better as a team in the ground ball department."
Morrissey, who was a part of three national championships at Syracuse (two as a player and one as an assistant coach), knows what teams need to do to be successful. "A key to being successful is to stay the course and try and focus on one game at a time and realize that each Division I game you play the team can breakthrough and the season can change for the better and you can get yourself on a run!"
The Crusaders' 10 seniors, Matt Boylan (Kings Park, N.Y.), Ricky DeCicco (Manhasset, N.Y.), Brent Ferraro (Islip, N.Y.), Guarente, Henry, Tom Hines (Manchester, Mass.), Colin McGeehin (Newtown Square, Pa.), Andrew Morici (Manhasset, N.Y.), Greg Peterson (West Hartford, Conn.) and Nick Rabiecki (Maplewood, N.J.), bring strong leadership to the team. "A very important asset our seniors have is game experience in the Patriot League," said Morrissey. "They have all played a good amount in their careers, so playing against Patriot League teams will not intimidate them."
The junior class of Jack Curran (Verona, N.J.), Myles Gillespie (Rye, N.Y.), John Hannan (Manhasset, N.Y.), Kennedy, Tim Pond (Port Washington, N.Y.), Daniel Schmader (Radnor, Pa.), Kip Stillman (Guilderland, N.Y.) and Matt Ward (Massapequa, N.Y.) also bring a wealth of playing experience and will look to be leaders. Sophomores John Daugherty (Stafford, Va.), Tripper Gandy (New Vernon, N.J.), Jake Graham (Wilmington, Del.), Kyle Kadlick (West Roxbury, Mass.), Bobby McLaughlin (Lindenhurst, N.Y.), Kenny O'Connor (Latham, N.Y.), Matt Smith (North Bethesda, Md.) and Ryan Troy (Summit, N.J.) are looking to improve on their freshman seasons and be major contributors.
A total of 16 new players have been added to the roster with 15 freshmen and one sophomore. Freshmen Eddie Cameron (Hull, Mass.), Jack Foster (Midlothian, Va.), Joe Fusco (North Caldwell, N.J.), Frank Gaul (Glen Rock, N.J.), Clay Haarmann (Mendham, N.J.), Terry McKenna (Summit, N.J.), Jimmy O'Brien (Loudonville, N.Y.), Jon Pillon (Branchburg, N.J.), Tyler Purdue (Mendham, N.J.), Conor Shanahan (Potomac, Md.), Burke Smith (Fairway, Kan.), Chris Smith (Rye, N.Y.), Jack Spencer (Garden City, N.Y.), Chris Stathopoulos (Waltham, Mass.) and Jamie Ward (Glen Rock, N.J.), along with sophomore Jack Ayers (Scituate, Mass.), are expected to contribute. "I expect our new players to work to improve every single day and push the upperclassmen to become better players," said Morrissey.
The Crusaders return their leading point scorer and goal scorer from last season. Kennedy led the team with a career-best 33 points and a career-high 13 assists, while he ranked second in goals with 20. He also picked up a career-best 26 ground balls which ranked fourth on the team. Kennedy already has 41 goals and 20 assists for 61 points in his first two seasons. Hannan ranked first on the team in goals with a career-high 21 and also posted two assists for a career-best 23 points which were second on the team.
Holy Cross also returns three seniors who had strong seasons a year ago. McGeehin tied for second on the team with seven assists, was third with 17 points and was fourth with 10 goals. Morici ranked third on the team in goals with a career-high 14, while he also posted one assist for a career-best 15 points. Boylan posted a career-season with seven goals and seven assists for 14 points as he tied for second on the team in assists, was fifth in points and tied for fifth in goals. The Crusaders also return junior Gillespie who recorded a career-season with five goals and five assists for 10 points.
Guarente brings a ton of experience to a key position on the field as he has been the team's main face-off taker for his entire career. Pond also will be a contributor on face offs. Henry is expected to be a major force on defense. Over the last two seasons he has caused an impressive 29 turnovers which are the most by any current Crusader. Matt Ward will also be a key in the Crusaders getting the ball as he ranked second on the team with a career-best 38 ground balls last season and was also second with a career-high 16 caused turnovers.
The Crusaders return one goalie from last season as O'Connor played in six games with four starts. He is looking to build on his freshman season and have a strong sophomore year. "O'Connor is improving steadily and is becoming a tough kid in goal," said Morrissey. Cameron, a four-year member of the varsity lacrosse team at Hull H.S. and a senior captain, will also compete for playing time at goalie.
The Crusaders will start the season with two straight away games at St. John's (Feb. 18) and defending America East Tournament champion Hartford (Feb. 25). The Crusaders will then play their home-opener versus Harvard (Feb. 28). The Patriot League Tournament will take place on April 27 and April 29, on the campus of the regular season champion. The top four teams in the final regular season standings will qualify for the tournament.