By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/6/11
For the third time in five years, Lehigh coach Kevin Cassese will bring his Mountain Hawks to the Nick Colleluori Classic.
The event, which benefits the HEADstrong Foundation and its quest to cure blood cancer, will be held Saturday and Sunday at Ridley High. Nineteen men’s teams will compete, including nine Division I teams Saturday and 10 Division II and III squads on Sunday.
Cassese’s Hawks will face Hofstra at 11 a.m. on the grass field and then meet Towson at 4 p.m. on the turf field. But the games are only a part of what makes the event so special as the lacrosse community honors the legacy of Nick Colleluori, the former Ridley and Hofstra player who passed away five years ago after a lengthy bout with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Cassese answered these questions in an interview with Phillylacrosse.com:
How many years have you gone to the Classic and why do you continue to make this great event a big part of your Fall Ball season?
Kevin Cassese: “This will be our third year going to the NCC (second year in a row). It is one of the best college lacrosse tournaments going for a variety of reasons; tremendous cause; top notch people involved from the organizers to the participants; great competition (Hofstra and Towson for us); perfect location, especially relative to Lehigh.”
What are your major on-the-field goals for Saturday’s games?
Kevin Cassese: “Goal #1 – After 20 fall practices, this is our mid-term exam period for the fall semester. How we perform on Saturday will ultimately determine how we approach the next 6 weeks of our fall improvement season. If we run out of gas in the fourth quarter, we know we need to focus on our conditioning. If our stick work is not good, we know we need to focus on stick work. If our shooting is below average, we will shoot a ton in the next 6 weeks. So on and so forth.”
“Goal #2 – Get a better feel for the depth chart. Some will move up and some will move down, depending on how they perform against top notch, outside competition.
“Goal #3 – Get a good hard look at the freshmen. That is the group we know the least about for obvious reasons.”
How has this year’s fall season gone with several new coaches (Tom Compitello and Errol Wilson) and a veteran team that has high expectations for the coming season?
Kevin Cassese: “The fall is going very well. The new coaching staff is phenomenal… great chemistry on and off the field. Practices have been fast paced and high intensity. Our commitment to strength training has been as good at it has ever been around here. One thing that has been a negative, yet also a positive is that we have had many injuries, especially to some key players from a year ago. Obviously a negative because you never want to have anyone injured (even if these are all relatively minor)… And also a positive because it has allowed us to work heavily and steadily with some of young, inexperienced players. At some point down the road, I have to believe that will pay off for us.”
5th Annual Nick Colleluori Classic Game Schedule
Division 1 schedule, Saturday, Oct. 8
STADIUM TURF FIELD – NATURAL GRASS FIELD
9:30 am Michigan vs. St. Joseph’s – Cornell vs. Colgate
11:00 am Cornell vs. Mount St. Mary’s – Lehigh vs. Hofstra
12:30 pm Colgate vs. Marist – Towson vs. Michigan
2:10 pm HEADstrong Presentation
2:30 pm Hofstra vs. Cornell – St. Joseph’s vs. Mount St. Mary’s
4:00 pm Towson vs. Lehigh – Mount St. Mary’s vs. Marist
Division II & III schedule, Sunday, Oct. 9
STADIUM TURF FIELD NATURAL GRASS FIELD
9:30 am Neumann vs. Eastern – Chestnut Hill vs. Ursinus
11:00 am Stockton vs. Albright – Scranton vs. St. Mary’s
12:30 pm Ursinus vs. Marywood – Widener vs. Neumann
2:10 pm HEADstrong Presentation
2:30 pm St. Mary’s vs. Chestnut Hill – Eastern vs. Stockton
4:00 pm Widener vs. Scranton – Albright vs. Marywood
Single Day Admission will be $10.00 for adults, $5.00 for children (12) and under, and free for children under (5). A Two-Day Pass is available for $15.00 for adults, and $7.00 for children (12) years and under.