By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/10/12
St. Joseph’s University made major improvements last year in its first season under rookie coach Taylor Wray, winning six games and one Colonial Athletic Association game after going 0-12 the previous year.
But the Hawks are looking to become a serious factor in the CAA race this year. And their enthusiasm for the 2013 season rose even more Saturday when they won both their games at the 6th annual Nick Colleluori Classic at Ridley High.
St Joe’s edged Marist, 9-8 and then handled Mount St. Mary’s, 10-2. The efforts had coach Wray feeling pleased.
“I was very, very proud of our guys,” he said. “We played well and it’s good to keep some momentum.
“We are going to work on a lot of things and I need to work on a lot in regards to the new rules.
“I have to work on the most effective ways to coach. But I think it was a great step forward for us and helped us learn a lot about our progress in the fall.”
Wray said his Hawks are seeking to challenge for a CAA playoff berth this year. The team closed its 2012 season with wins over Mercer, Marist (in overtime) and CAA foe Towson. Wray also managed to bring in a strong class of 18 recruits.
“That’s our ultimate goal, we really want to compete within our league,” he said. “We got one win last year and we were more competitive than in other years.
“But we want to start winning. Their work ethic is second to none and they have done everything we’ve asked them to do.
“They have done the fitness and the extra work has now taken on a mind of its own. More guys are working out on their own and you have to do that to be great. We don’t want to be average, we want to be great and we want to compete for a conference championship and make the NCAA tournament.”
St. Joe’s junior attackman Ryan McGee returns as the team’s far-and-away top scorer (38 goals last season). Named as the team’s Nicholas “Head” Colleluori Award winner, McGee said the team is looking to make that next step this year.
“Since coach came in, he has really got us working hard all year round,” said McGee, a White Palins (N.Y.) graduate whose father and two uncles played lacrosse at Abington. “We took a good step forward last year and this year we want to step it up in the league and compete and make the CAA playoffs.
“The biggest positive (at the Colleluori event) was the play of the freshmen. We have 18 rookies this year and they played extremely well. They have really come in and bought into everything we preach as a program.”
The added talent has made competition even keener for jobs.
“Absolutely, nobody’s position is set in stone,” McGee said. “We have guys competing all across the board; that makes the program better when anybody can play at any time.”
McGee said Wray, the former captain of the Philadelphia Wings and Lehigh assistant coach, has breathed new life into the program.
“We all have tremendous respect for him as a person and a coach,” McGee said. “He works hard and we follow his example.”
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