Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/27/10
From Press Releases
After making it into, and hosting, the second round of the 2009 NCAA tournament, the ninth-ranked Haverford College men’s lacrosse team opens its 2010 season today against visiting and rival Cabrini College (3 p.m.) with a lot of familiar faces.
Virtually the entire team is back to do battle in the tough Centennial Conference. Last year the Fords captured the regular season league title and they return six of seven all-conference performers.
Scoring leader Max Hjelm (Conestoga) was 36th nationally in goals per game (2.65) and earned Honorable Mention All-America Team and First Team All-Conference honors. Teammates Brian Fleishhacker (attack) and Grant Firestone (defense) picked up second-team league honors, and the trio of Travis Gregory (midfield), Andrew Kim (midfield) and Scott Kelley (Strath Haven, defense) received honorable mention recognition in the conference.
In a league recognized for top to bottom strength and strong goalie play, Haverford’s Joe Banno can certainly be mentioned in the conversation.
The sophomore finished his first season between the pipes at Haverford with an 8.32 goals against average and a saves percentage, .587, that ranked 30th-best in the country.
From Banno in the defensive end all the way up field to Hjelm and company, the Fords have the personnel to challenge for the top rung again within the Centennial.
Rookie head coach Colin Bathory, formerly an assistant to Mike Murphy, is looking to see a more balanced squad within each zone, though.
The Fords were eighth-best nationally in man-up situations converting those chances at a 44 percent success rate. Improvements will be looked for in the opposite situation, however, when they find themselves a man down.
A throng of newcomers (10 freshmen) are expected to supplement the returning roster in finding the end-to-end balance Bathory is seeking.
The 2010 schedule poses its challenges, too.
In 2009 the Fords appeared to live on the edge playing in six one-goal games — including three overtime tilts — but won all of them. They seemed to find the decisive play, a goal or a stop, when they needed it, especially away from Swan Field where they compiled a stellar 8-1 record away from their home turf.
The 2010 slate is littered with ranked opponents and teams that joined the Fords in the NCAA postseason. “We believe in playing good teams week in, and week out,” said Bathory.
One look at the non-conference portion of the schedule accents Bathory’s thoughts.
Of its six non-Centennial opponents, four are nationally ranked in this year’s preseason polls and played in the 2009 national tournament. No. 6 Denison fell in the quarterfinals, No. 16 St. Lawrence and No. 11 Cabrini lost in the second round, and No. 19 FDU-Florham lost in the opening round.
Add in preseason No. 3, and 2009 national finalist, Gettysburg along with No. 19 Washington, and almost half of Haverford’s 2010 opponents are among the top-20 in the nation.
Factor in that four of the six one-goal Haverford victories in 2009 came against three non-ranked Centennial opponents and one gets the idea of just how tough the upcoming schedule is for the Fords.
Haverford reached as high as No. 8 last year before a small slide following a pair of postseason losses. The early polls this year believe the Fords are at a starting point equal to where they left off in 2009. Only time will tell if another season on the edge will push Haverford to a third straight double-digit wins total and beyond.