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Men’s lacrosse preview: Chestnut Hill adds defensive depth to firepower, aims for ECC elite

Thursday, 9th February 2012

Categories Boy's/Men's, College  
 

Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/9/12
From Press Release

With the warming weather the Chestnut Hill College men’s lacrosse team begins its second season under Head Coach Brian Dougherty. A year removed from upsetting a #2 Mercyhurst College and #5 Dowling College, the Griffins are prepared to take another giant step forward in their third season of intercollegiate competition.

With no significant losses to note, the power of the Griffins will lie on offense, headlined by the reigning National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II Scoring Champion, sophomore attack Mike Melnychenko (St. Catharines, Ontario) and his fellow All-East Coast Conference (ECC) Honorable Mention, junior midfielder Mark Winkelspecht (Parkland).

Chestnut Hill College (7-7, 3-7) began earning respect in 2011, winning three ECC contests and dominating their non-conference schedule for a 7-7 overall finish. The offensive production, led by Melnychenko and Winkelspecht, was the guiding force behind the Griffins success.

The Griffins outscored their opponents 156-142 and did so with a superior efficiency, posting a .355 shooting percentage against their foes’ .262 scoring rate. Melnychenko totaled 50 goals in his freshman season, leading the team, conference, and nation in goal-per-game (3.57). He also ranked sixth nationally in points-per-game (4.07) and was named the league’s top rookie after stacking up three ECC Rookie of the Week (2/28, 4/4, & 4/25) awards.

Additionally, Melnychenko recovered 37 ground balls and caused four turnovers. Winkelspecht was equally important to the Griffins success, totaling 26 goals and 18 assists for 44 points, while also contributing 35 ground balls and six caused turnovers. Other strong offensive seasons were turned in by senior attack Kevin Festa (Auburn, NY), 34 points (11 goals and 23 assists), junior attack Shane Morlock (Whitby, Ontario), 31 points (11 goals and 20 assists), sophomore midfielder Mike Landau (Lancaster, PA), 23 points (19 goals and four assists), and sophomore midfielder Bart Pierre (Maplewood, NJ), 17 points (14 goals and three assists).

Major additions to the Griffins offense include freshman midfielder Nick Johnson (Germantown, MD), junior midfielder Mike Duddy (Toms River, NJ), junior midfielder D.J. Klusaritz (Parkland), and junior attack Craig Owen (Haverford School). Duddy is the first US Lacrosse High School All-American recruited to Chestnut Hill College, while Klusaritz returns to campus after helping Onondaga Community College (OCC) to a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Championship. As a freshman, in 2010, he was second on the Griffins in points-per-game (2.25).

Starting roles are set defensively with the return of junior Tom Carfagna (Parkland), sophomore Chris Schaffer (Lititz, PA), and sophomore Alex Frederick (Hempfield), but competition within the depth chart will be fierce with the addition of freshman Frankie Berry (Mission Viejo, CA/Santa Margarita Catholic) and sophomore Mike Florenzo (Clarksville, MD/Binghamton University) to a unit that already receives strong reserve contributions from juniors D.J. Lynch (Mullica Hill, NJ) and Joe Rucinsky (Camp Hill, PA).

Other newcomers to the Griffin defense will be sophomore goalkeeper Ryan Duffy (Liverpool, NY/ Onondaga CC), another NJCAA National Champion from OCC, and freshman midfielder Chris Mertens (Freeport, NY/Baldwin), who prides himself on his work in the faceoff circle and as a defensive minded midfielder. He will join junior midfielder Junji Wiener (Houston, TX) as the Griffins top short stick midfielders.

Duffy will provide some healthy competition for junior goalkeeper Dakota Maurer (Lititz, PA), who has serves as the Griffins starting goalkeeper for the program first two seasons. Maurer was 7-7 with a 10.45 goals-against-average and a .569 save percentage last season. Carfagna offered seven points (two goals and five assists) while leading the defense in ground balls (32) last season. Schaffer led the unit in caused turnovers (23), while Frederick offered 17 ground balls, eight caused turnovers, and three assists.

Competition will be fierce off the season’s first faceoff as the Griffins open the season at Mercy College on Saturday, February 25.

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