Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/27/15
From Press Release
A year removed from the program’s first East Coast Conference (ECC) Championship Tournament appearance, the Chestnut Hill College men’s lacrosse team is hungry for more. Fueling the fire, the Griffins have reinforced a solid core with a host of talented newcomers who could propel them beyond the ECC postseason to the ultimate goal of a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championship Tournament berth in 2015.
Facing one of the toughest schedules in the nation, Chestnut Hill College finished strong as it won six of its last eight regular season games to earn the #4 seed in the inaugural ECC Championship Tournament. Unfortunately, #1 Dowling College was last to score in a dramatic opening-round battle that eliminated the Griffins by a 12-11 final. Team Most Valuable Player (MVP) Michael Melnychenko ’14 earned a selection to the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) 2014 Division II All-America Second Team and All-ECC First Team status while All-ECC Second Team recognition was given to midfielder Michael Landau ’14 and defenseman Derick Darnulc (Baldwin, N.Y.). Team captain Christopher Schaffer ’14 was honored with the team’s Coach’s Award.
While many may expect the team to struggle to replace NLL draftee Melnychenko and a well-respected graduating class, Chestnut Hill College is primed for success in 2015. Partnered in the Griffin backfield with the team’s only returning captain, senior defenseman Frank Berry III (Mission Viejo, Calif.), Darnulc will help shoulder the team’s leadership responsibilities in 2015.
He collected his second All-ECC accolade after finishing the 2014 season with two goals, 15 ground balls, and nine caused turnovers. He was an ECC Week Five Honor Roll mention after holding the league’s top scorer, Mercy College’s Jesse Wood (Binghamton, N.Y.), to an assist and seven ground balls in a 6-5 overtime-win. Berry finished the season with 26 ground balls and 11 caused turnovers.
Also returning to the defense are seniors James DeCarlo (La Salle) and Scott Parke (Springfield-Delco), junior Gabriel Straub (Nazareth), and sophomores Daniel DePasquale (Livingston, N.J.), John McCullough (Floral Park, N.Y.), Kyle Newman (Plainsboro, N.J.), and Mark Pascetta (Ridley). DePasquale stands out from the bunch, building on a freshman campaign that included 11 ground balls and four caused turnovers.
In the midfield, senior Christopher Mertens (Freeport, N.Y.) takes on captain responsibilities with the anticipation of a breakout season; 29 points (18 goals and 11 assists) in 33 career games. His effort will be supported by classmate Nicholas Johnson (Germantown, Md.), junior Austin Mercado (Temecula, Calif.), and sophomores Justin Albarran (Freehold, N.J.), Andrew Hildebrand (Hatboro-Horsham), Joseph Pozniak (Berkeley Heights, N.J.), and Timothy Vilardi (Little Silver, N.J.). As a group, they will look to ease the loss of Landau and Mark Winkelspecht ’14, who anchored the unit over the past four seasons.
Meanwhile, up front, sophomore Alec Dambach (Howell, N.J.) and junior Tanner Fisher (Port Coquitlam, British Columbia) will be charged with matching Melnychenko’s past production. Fisher grossed 23 points on 14 goals and nine assists while Dambach finished an impressive freshman season first on the team in assists (20) and second in points (36). He totaled 16 goals with five of them coming in a 20-8 ECC win at Dominican College on April 12 where he recorded nine points with four assists, giving him a hand in nearly half (45.0%) of the Griffins goals. Also factoring into the attack unit will be senior Francisco Barone (Middle Township, N.J.) and juniors George Markey (Branchburg, N.J.) and Michael Plaia (Hicksville, N.Y.). Markey was a surprise contributor in 2014, totaling 11 points (seven goals and four assists) and three ground balls.
In goal sophomore Thomas McDermott (Ridley) will battle newcomers, junior transfer Drew Lamela (Brick, N.J./ Montclair State University) and freshman Matthew Pedrick (New Milford, N.J.) for playing time. McDermott recorded one ground ball while posting a 9.42 goals-against-average (GAA) and a .595 save percentage over four appearances in 2014.
Other newcomers to the roster include freshmen, attack Dylan Klusaritz (Parkland), midfielders Nolan Dirienzi (Media, Pa.), Caleb Gaeng (Crofton, Md.), Gerard Lyle (Baldwin, N.Y.), Joshua Pope (Schnecksville, Pa.), Brian Sinex (Holmes, Pa.), and Nicholas Webber (Westwood, Mass.), and defenseman Ryan Seely (Little Silver, N.J.). Klusaritz, younger brother of D.J. Klusartiz ’13, is a slick and talented attackman who should provide an immediate impact. Meanwhile, Gaeng is an aggressive offensive player who attacks the cage with tremendous energy. Pope is a talented two-way midfielder who excels in the open field and Sinex will spark play as the Griffins faceoff specialist.
As winter practices commence and the Griffins prepare for the upcoming season, Chestnut Hill College Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach Brian Dougherty has charged his troops with four goals: 1) Get better every day; 2) Win the next game; 3) Make the ECC Championship Tournament; and 4) Make the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championship Tournament.
Their test begins on Saturday, February 21, when Chestnut Hill College visits Seton Hill University for a 1:00 p.m. “Battle of the Griffins.”
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