Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/28/10
From Press Releases and Staff Reports
The Lehigh men’s lacrosse team is optimistic as it gears for its season opener on Saturday, Feb. 13 when the Mountain Hawks travel to Philadelphia to face St. Joseph’s University.
The Mountain Hawks were put through strength and conditioning tests once the student-athletes arrived on campus in Mid-January for the start of practice. Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese was pleased with the fitness level of this year’s team.
“You have to trust the guys that they are going to put the work in over winter break in order to come back in peak physical condition,” he said. “We work very closely with our strength and conditioning staff to devise a winter program that incorporates lacrosse work, agility, speed and strength.
“Some guys have the luxury of being able to train outdoors when they return home while others spend a lot of time inside the gym or on a treadmill. I was very impressed with the results of our lifting results. We have a short preseason though so we must be focused on improving our conditioning.”
Sophomore Adam Johnston scored 15 goals as a freshman and he’s been hard at work looking to improve his production in 2010. “I’ve been working on my dodging skills and carrying the ball more,” Johnston explained. “Last year I played a finisher role for the most part, so I’ve been trying to expand my game and improve my skills behind the net.”
Kyle Gentile, a senior who totaled 24 ground balls and 15 caused turnovers a season ago, understands the importance of coming into the season in top physical condition. “My father always told me that you can never be too fast, too strong, or too quick, and that’s always been my mindset towards training – to get in the best physical shape I can possibly be in. Regardless of how good of shape I may be in, I can always get into better shape.”
With only a little more than two weeks before the season opener, Cassese and his staff know they must move quickly to get the Mountain Hawks prepared for Saint Joseph’s.
“There is a lot to do and not a lot of time to get it done,” Cassese said. “Things are more intricate once we get going in the spring so hopefully our guys can grasp the concepts we’re teaching them and improve upon what they learned during the fall.”
The Mountain Hawks feature a number of young and talented players from Philly, including key returnees Will Scudder (junior face-off specialist from Haverford School) and Blaise Fullen (sophomore defenseman from Penn Charter). Scudder was among the NCAA leaders in face-off percentage with a .557 percentage (152 of 273) and Fullen started 11 games.
Also returning is junior attackman Tom Hueber (Malvern Prep). New faces this year are junior midfielder Chris Ryan (Haverford School) and three promising freshmen: Dan Carr (Penn Charter), midfielder Derek Bogorowski (La Salle) and defenseman Mike Noone (La Salle). All three freshmen are expected to contribute this year.
“During these first few weeks of practice the coaching staff and players must play a delicate balancing game,” Gentile said. “The players are trying to get into the best possible shape for the season, but we also want to begin the season healthy. We are going to be focusing on several big picture items, such as offensive plays, defensive schemes as well as some more advanced riding and clearing principles that we went over during the fall.
“The preseason is an extremely important time for our team because it’s a chance for us to come together as a team and a family. The closer we are and the stronger our team unity and bonds are, the more successful we will be during the season. This will be an area of focus in the next few weeks for the upperclassmen.”
Johnston echoes those comments from Gentile. “At the beginning of last season we had a lot of injuries, so having everyone healthy for the start of this season is very important,” he said. “We want to come out strong and have a solid few weeks of practice to set the bar high for the rest of the season. We ended the fall on a strong note, so hopefully we can come out with the same intensity and focus we ended with.”
Lehigh fell to St. Joseph’s in last year’s opener at the Ulrich Sports Complex. Cassese would like to see the Brown and White get off to a stronger start in 2010.
“No one on this roster has ever played in the Patriot League Tournament so we want to get back into the tourney and compete for a league championship,” he said. “But first things first. Our focus right now is on February 13. Last year we stubbed our toe coming out of the gate losing to an in-state foe at home. That one stung so we want to avenge that loss this season.”