By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/9/11
There is no doubt that the Chestnut Hill College men’s lacrosse team is taking the meaning of the Nick Colleluori Classic quite seriously.
The Griffins have seen the effects of blood disease – right on their very roster.
For 12 months, Chestnut Hill sophomore lacrosse player Shane Franzone – a Norristown High grad – has been fighting a rare blood disease called Aplastic anemia. The condition occurs when bone marrow fails to produce sufficient blood cells (red and white cells as well as platelets).
Franzone actually was diagnosed right after last year’s Nick Colleluori Classic and has been receiving advanced treatments ever since. He underwent a bone marrow transplant during the summer, and his recovery continues.
Chestnut Hll is the only Division II squad and one of 10 D 2/3 teams overall competing at Ridley High at the second day of the 5th annual Nick Colleluori event, which benefits the HEADstrong Foundation’s fight against blood cancer,
The Griffins – who went 7-7 last year as a second-year program – defeated Ursinus College, 8-6, in their opener this morning. More importantly, they were playing with Franzone in mind.
”We keep Shane in our thoughts and prayers every day in practice and we’re pretty much playing this tournament for him,” said Chestnut Hill junior tri-captain and midfielder Mark Winkelspecht, a Parkland grad who earned East Coast Conference Honorable Mention honors last year. “We’re wrapping up Fall Ball and just thinking about him.
“Everybody is out here for a reason today. We’re not just playing lacrosse; it’s a bigger picture. We enjoyed selling t-shirts and raising money for the HEADstrong Foundation.”
“It’s a great opportunity; it’s a great cause,” said Chestnut Hill College second-year coach Brian “Doc”Dougherty, the Episcopal Academy grad. “Obviously with Shane, we’ve been hit pretty hard.
“Last year he was a normal kid at this time. Since then he’s been in the hospital, basically in a bubble for 10 months. That’s No. 1 and that’s first and foremost; to come down here, we realize how fortunate we are to be able to play.”
Winkelspecht said his team has high expectations for 2012.
“We want a national championship and nothing less,” he said. “We’re working hard every day and going 100 percent at practices.”
Dougherty is no stranger to setting high goals. As a goalie, he has won championships at the World, MLL and National Post-Collegiate Club levels and won every possible individual honor in the sport.
But he wants one thing now – a Division II national title. Although the Griffins went 3-7 in the 2011 season, they showed their potential by defeating eventually national champion Mercyhurst. With the team now maturing, Dougherty is not modest about his expectations.
“As far as the team, we want to keep ball rolling and create as much momentum as we can to get into the season,” he said, “We wanted to give our guys a look today and I feel confident about our top two lines.
“We have so many new guys and transfers. My focus is to see them get an opportunity to jell and play together.
“We were 3-7 in the conference and had one big win. But to be honest we lost three or four games we probably should have won. We want to learn from that and keep going and set the tone that 3-7 is not what we’re looking to do.
“We expect to win every game we go into. I don’t see it any other way. We’ve gained a lot of momentum (this fall), and we want to keep it rolling.
“We had a 7-6 win over Haverford College last week. It was a great game. We have had some tough battles and since we have a lot of new guys that helps us mesh together and become a team. You need those wars and battles – so guys see they have each other’s back. That creates a good team environment.”
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