Phillylacrosse.com, posted 1/30/10
From Press Releases and Staff Reports
Four freshmen, one sophomore and one fifth-year senior from Philly could all make huge contributions for the St. John’s men’s lacrosse teams as the Red Storm prepare for their first season of play in the new BIG EAST East Conference.
Attackmen Tyler Novotny (Spring-Ford) and Adam Bitzer (Central Bucks East), midfielder Jarrett Carr (Hatboro-Horsham) and defenseman Andrew Zbikowski (La Salle) are all expected to make contributions as freshmen. Also, sophomore attackman Charlie Holenstein (Downingtown West) and senior midfielder Tom Manes (Archbishop Ryan), who returns as a captain as a fifth-year senior after missing almost all of 2008 with a foot injury, are major cogs.
Entering his fourth season at the helm, head coach Jason Miller believes this year’s team could be one of his best. Returning the entire starting close defense unit and several offensive producers who were sidelined with injury last year, Miller has good reason to be optimistic. The Red Storm will have plenty of opportunity to showcase its talent this season against one of the nation’s toughest schedules in the newly formed BIG EAST Lacrosse Conference.
Last year, St. John’s started the season 5-1 and was ranked as high as 15th in the USILA Coaches Poll. However, season-ending injuries to Manes and attacker Terence Leach slowed the Red Storm attack as the team finished the year at 5-9.
“Last year we missed those guys more than we wanted to admit,” said Miller. “This season, we have both of them back healthy along with a very talented freshman class. We have high expectations for ourselves this year.”
Sophomore Harry Kutner returns from a productive freshman season where he ranked second on the team with 24 points on 13 goals and a team-high 11 assists. After getting surgery this summer, Kutner played well during the team’s fall season and is expected to be a scoring leader in just his second year with the Red Storm.
Although he only played in six games last year before getting injured, Leach emerged as one of the team’s most talented attackers. His healthy return as a junior will add both a scoring presence and experience to the attacking corps.
“Terence is an excellent lefty with great hands,” said Miller. “He’s a catch and finish guy, and he’s worked on his ability to score the ball from eight yards and out. It was a big hit for us when he went down last year and we are looking forward to having him back.”
Challenging for the third starting spot at the attack position will be right-handed junior Joe Bagnasco, who tallied three points last year, as well as Holenstein, Novotny (Philly-high 78 goals, Second Team All-Phillylacrosse.com last year) and Bitzer (42 goals, Honorable Mention All-Phillylacrosse.com).
The Red Storm will boast an experienced and talented midfield in 2010, starting with fifth-year senior captain Manes, who collected two goals and three assists in just three games last year before succumbing to a season-ending foot injury. Manes, who has started 34 games out of 41 contests played in his career, elected to take a redshirt season and returns as St. John’s most experienced player.”
Like Terence, we missed Tom more than we realized last year,” said Miller. “He’s a natural lefty and one of the fastest guys on the team. He has grown into a very important leadership role for us and we’re pleased that he came back for another year.”
Manes will be joined in the first midfield by senior Garrett Mitchell, who has played in 36 games in three seasons, and sophomore Matt Hurst, who had a three-goal and three-assist freshman season.
Freshmen Carr (Honorable Mention All-Phillylacrosse.com), Brandon Ayers, and Alex Lagodich will see the field early in the season in the second midfield and they will be counted on to grow into a productive role. Redshirt sophomore Ryan Herits and redshirt freshman Shane Foley will provide depth in the midfield.
Seniors Reggie Davis and Nick Messinger return as two-year starters who combined for 43 ground balls last season in the defensive midfield. They will have to replace the steady leadership of graduated captain Matt Viscusi. Junior Dan Kalata, who saw action in six games last season, will also be called upon to contribute big minutes.
The Red Storm will boast extensive experience on the close defensive unit. Junior Mike Sherry finished second on the team with 46 ground balls and first on the team with 23 caused turnovers. Senior captain Jerry Nevin returns as the team’s most physical defender while junior Dan Cremens tallied 31 ground balls. All three players started all 14 games last season.
Talented freshman Colin Canty will team with sophomore Carlin Cornetta, who played in 13 games last year, and freshmen Parker Bratton, Erik Flexer, and Zbikowski to provide depth in the defensive zone.
LONG STICK MIDFIELDERS AND FACEOFFS
Freshman Dillon Ayers, the twin brother of midfielder Brandon, will get the first look at long stick midfielder. Senior Marco Massaro will make the move from midfielder to pole and Tanner Seago will return from injury and provide depth.
Freshman Jordan Rothman will take over at the face-off X and will have big shoes to fill after the departure of NCAA ground balls statistical champion Dom DeNapoli. Rothman was a first team All-American out of Bridgewater-Raritan High School in New Jersey.
Senior captain Gavin Buckley returns to the net ranked ninth all-time in saves among Red Storm goalies. Buckley earned ECAC weekly honors three times last season, including being named Defensive Player of the Week in St. John’s win over fifth-ranked Georgetown.
Freshman Jeff Lowman has already shown great poise in the net after splitting time with Buckley in the team’s fall scrimmage. Lowman, a native of Millersville, Md., was named All-County First Team from Severna Park High School. Lowman will push Buckley throughout the year as he looks forward to being the team’s future goaltender.
St. John’s enters its first season of BIG EAST Conference play with a very competitive schedule that features six games against teams that finished in the Top 20 of last season’s final USILA Coaches Poll.
“Anyone who knows anything about lacrosse or college sports in general understands the impact of what the BIG EAST Conference can do for lacrosse and for our program in terms of exposure and competition,” said Miller. “We have a great opportunity to build our program through conference play and through some really competitive non-conference matchups against regional rivals.”
The Red Storm enters the season ranked sixth in BIG EAST Preseason Coaches Poll. Two-time defending national champion Syracuse was unanimously picked first in the conference. Notre Dame was picked second while Georgetown, a team that St. John’s defeated 10-9 last year, was voted third in the league.