Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/25/16
From Press Release
With the regular-season opener less than one month away (Feb. 20), the Saint Joseph’s men’s lacrosse team kicked off its first official practice of the 2016 season last Saturday, January 16. The Hawks return 31 letterwinners, including seven starters, and welcome 14 newcomers for the 2016 season.
“The guys’ energy and focus at practice has been excellent, but you expect that for the first few days back,” said fifth-year Hawks head coach Taylor Wray. “We’re all excited to be together again and to be out on the field working hard.
“The challenge is maintaining that level of energy and focus as we go through the preseason and as we battle through the elements we know we are going to face. With that said, this team seems to be very hungry; they are doing a great job of holding one another accountable, and it’s shown in the level of execution we’ve seen at practice so far.”
“Overall, the past couple of days have been really good,” said senior captain John Winchell. “We’ve been flying around, working hard, and getting ready for the season coming up in a couple weeks.”
The Hawks – featuring 19 Philly region grads on the roster – will embark on their third year in the Northeast Conference this spring. Last year, Saint Joseph’s posted an 11-6 record and went 6-0 in regular-season league play en route to clinching the NEC regular-season title and advancing to the NEC championship game. Recording back-to-back 11-win seasons, the Hawks are 22-10 overall and an undefeated 12-0 in the NEC regular season over the last two years.
“Our team goals each year remain the same: we want to win the NEC Championship, first and foremost,” said junior captain and 2015 NEC Offensive Player of the Year Mike Rastivo.
Leading up to the regular season, the Hawks will play three exhibition games, beginning with the annual Crimson and Gray Intersquad scrimmage scheduled for Saturday, January 30 at 1:00 p.m. on Sweeney Field. Saint Joseph’s will face Army in West Point, N.Y. at noon on February 6 before closing the preseason slate at home against Binghamton on Saturday, February 13 at 1:00 p.m.
“We learn a lot about our team in practice, but there is no substitute for real competition against someone else,” added Wray. “This is the first year that we’ve been able to include two preseason scrimmages and we know we’ll be tested against Army and Binghamton. The hope is that those tests put us in position to play well in our season opener. That is something we haven’t done well the last couple years, and we are determined to change that for February 20th.”
Saint Joseph’s opens the 2016 season with four consecutive home games, beginning with VMI on Saturday, February 20 at 1:00 p.m. on Sweeney Field.