Lacrosse Ahead of the Game Thanks to New Turf Fields

By Chris Shaddock
Staff Writer

This article was originally published in Issue 10, Fiftieth Year of The Minstrel (March 3, 2016). Click here to view the entire issue. 

2015 Freedom Conference "Rookie of the Year" Joe Neggia led the team in scoring with 21 goals and 9 assists last year. Photo courtesy of DeSales Athletics.
2015 Freedom Conference “Rookie of the Year” Joe Neggia led the team in scoring with 21 goals and nine assists last year. Photo courtesy of DeSales Athletics.

This year’s weather is driving all students at DeSales crazy, but for an athlete who’s training in this chaotic weather, it is pure misery. Even so, these athletes continue on through the harsh winds and snowy days. The DeSales’ men’s lacrosse team is a shining example of this as they continue to practice outside.

Part of the reason the lacrosse team is able to keep up with their practices is due to additional athletic training facilities, such as the new turf fields that were constructed this past fall. Both the team’s head coach, Matthew Brancaccio, and his players mentioned that they have really enjoyed using the turf field and have been excited to get out to practices.

Junior Justin Wilson scored 3 of the teams 6 goals in the loss to Scranton. Photo by Jeffrey Melnik of Conquest Photography.
Junior Justin Wilson scored three of the team’s six goals in the loss to Scranton. Photo by Jeffrey Melnik of Conquest Photography.

“The new facilities have been great,” said senior captain Ryan Loughlin. “I think there have only been two days where we haven’t been able to use [the new turf field] because there was three feet of snow.”

The lacrosse team has been at it since the end of January, typically practicing for two hours at a time, not including watching game film or lifting.

According to Brancaccio, the team’s overall goal is to win the Freedom Conference Championship this season and then to get as far into the NCAA tournament as they can. But they are setting their priorities straight by first aiming to get into the playoffs this year.

Senior captain Ryan Loughlin major role in the lacrosse team’s 2016 season. Photo courtesy of Desales Athletics.
Senior captain Ryan Loughlin, who had a goal and five groundballs in the loss to Scranton, will play a major role in the lacrosse team’s 2016 season.
Photo courtesy of Desales Athletics.

“We’ve been playoff-bound for a couple of the past seasons,” Brancaccio said. “Last year we missed the playoffs by a game, but we’re looking to get back there this season.”

In the Freedom preseason poll, the team is projected to finish fifth in the conference, which is where they ended up last season.

There are several key players who are expected to stand out this season. On offense there is Loughlin, an attackman who scored 15 goals last season, and midfielder Justin Wilson who scored nine goals last year. On defense there’s defender Tim Barry, who had 21 caused turnovers last season; longstick midfielder Tyler Davis who had 13 caused turnovers last season; and third-year starting goalie Matt Warnken, who had a total of 130 saves last season.

Junior Jake McNamara went  12 for 16 in face-offs despite the loss to Scranton on Wednesday. Photo by Jeffrey Melnik of Conquest Photography.
Junior Jake McNamara went 12 for 16 in face-offs despite the loss to Scranton on Wednesday. Photo by Jeffrey Melnik of Conquest Photography.

The team is fairly young this year, having only four senior members, so Loughlin says they will rely on some of their younger players to adapt.

“We’re looking for a lot of the younger guys to step up, fill some roles that we might be missing, and it will be exciting to see what happens,” Loughlin said.

Loughlin also mentioned that the team is getting along well with each other and that they are optimistic for the rest of the season.

The team is currently 0-2 after losing their season opener to Elizabethtown, 13-6, and a failed comeback against Scranton University, 7-6. The team is set to play Clark University and Marymount University in Clearwater, Fla. during spring break before traveling to Gwynedd Valley, Pa. to take on Gwynedd Mercy University on March 19.

You can find the rest of the team’s schedule here.

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