By Bridget Walsh
The DeSales’ men’s lacrosse team has been selected second in the MAC Freedom Conference preseason coaches’ poll, receiving two first place votes to rank just behind conference favorite Eastern University. This preseason ranking comes after a historic season for the Bulldogs, who won six conference games, the most in program history.
The Bulldogs are led by head coach Matt Brancaccio, who is entering his third season at DeSales. Brancaccio also enters the season after being named last year’s MAC Freedom Coach of the Year
“Getting ranked number two in our conference is great,” said Brancaccio. “Our guys deserved to get recognized for the hard work they put in last year, but it is a new year. Our guys are focused and are not concerned about the rankings. We are concerned about winning our first game against Elizabethtown and just focusing one game at a time.”
Just as any team preparing for a repeat successful season would do, the Bulldogs worked hard in both the off season and thus far in the preseason to prepare for non-conference games.
“We have done a ton of preparation this off season to make significant gains,” said Brancaccio. “One of the most important things we do is work heavily with our strength coach. We lifted four days a week and had speed training twice a week in the fall.”
The Bulldogs have a strong roster this season with a healthy mix of seasoned upperclassmen and anxious freshmen.
Some notable returnees include seniors Justin Wilson, who received First Team honors last season, Tyler Newman and Tyler Davis, who received Second Team honors last season, and Jake McNamara, who earned Honorable Mention last season. Overall, the Bulldogs are also returning six of their top eight scorers from their historic 2016 season.
“We did lose some key players last year but I think with the incoming freshmen that we brought in, we are a more athletic and more talented group this year,” said Brancaccio. “One of our strengths is that we are probably one of the tightest groups in the country. Our guys really care about each other, and we are all a really close group.”
The goals and expectations of this talented group include an overall record of at least .500, making an appearance in the MAC Freedom tournament, and winning the MAC Freedom title for the first time in program history.
The Bulldogs open their season on the road with two games before heading to Clearwater, Fl. for their spring break trip. Then, home action begins on March 18 against non-conference opponent Gwynedd Mercy University. MAC Freedom games start on April 4, when the Bulldogs host the Devils of FDU-Florham.