By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/12/11
Armed with a new coach and a new attitude, St. Joseph’s was one of the more talked about teams during last weekend’s 5th annual Nick Colleluori Classic at Ridley High.
The Hawks, who went winless last year in their first season in the Colonial Athletic Association, defeated Michigan, 9-5, and Mount St. Mary’s, 10-7, in Saturday’s Division I day of the tournament that raises money for the HEADstrong Foundation’s fight against blood cancer.
The Hawks, under rookie mentor Taylor Wray, are out to prove they are much better than the 0-12 team that produced only 31 goals all year.
“It’s our first chance to show everybody what we’ve been working for the last 4 or 5 weeks,” said junior defenseman Teddy Hospodar, a St. Joseph’s Prep grad. “I can tell you we work our tails off six days a week. Everyone is going full tilt all the time. We were not necessary coming out to win, just to show everyone we have improved.”
Hospodar said Wray’s presence has helped change the team’s outlook.
“It’s definitely a fresh start with coach Wray coming,” he said of the former Lehigh assistant and Philadelphia Wings captain. “We didn’t know what to expect, and certainly it’s been great.
“We are focused; he has brought the team together. It’s a fresh start. Some of the guys even got new numbers. It’s a different team this year.”
The Hawks opened Saturday’s competition with the win over Michigan. Despite some sloppy play and problems scooping groundballs, the Hawks showed they are a more dangerous and diverse team at the offensive end.
“It’s kind of exciting for all of us because we didn’t get any respect last year and we didn’t deserve it,” said junior midfielder Steve Dunn, a Malvern prep grad . “There is a new attitude this year; everyone will be surprised at what we can do. We’ll turn some heads early.
“I think they (Michigan) came out and thought, ‘It’s St. Joe’s – the same old St. Joe’s.’ We were able to get up early and hold the lead. Hopefully, we can do that in the regular season.”
Dunn said playing for the HEADstrong Foundation is an honor. He played on Team HEADstrong’s club team and has always enjoyed serving the Foundation’s cause of spreading the message of Nick Colleluori and his desire to cure blood cancer.
“It was an honor to play for them and an honor to come out and see the Colleluori family and put everything into perspective,” Dunn said. “It’s a great opportunity
“We sold our t-shirts to help raise money,” added Hospodar. “Playing is always fun, and when you are playing for a cause it’s even better. Especially for Nick, a local player coming out of Ridley, we’re happy to raise money for a good cause.”
Wray agreed. He said the Hawks’ Honorary Captain, Westfield (N.J.) senior lacrosse player Catherine Frega, helped put everything into perspective. Frega was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma last year, but continues to be a source of optimism through her positive attitude.
“It’s pretty incredible what the (the Colleluori family) is doing,” said Wray. “We had our honorary captain talk to the guys. Our guys have their health. It’s great to get a perspective and see what others have to go through.”
Wray said the team has responded to a new system and has high hopes for the 2012 season.
“They are definitely enthused. They are working their tails off, but there is still a lot of work to do,” he said. “They came out with a lot of energy (against Michigan), though I expect them to do that all the time. The game was a little sloppy at first, then we settled in. Michigan dominated us in groundballs. That was the only thing I didn’t like.
“It was great for our team to have a fresh start and a good start to the competitive season. It’s a great way to kick things off.
“The Nick Colleluori Classic is definitely one of the premier, if not THE premier fall lacrosse events. It’s a great cause; they are helping a lot of people.”
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