Preview: Men's Lacrosse Looks to Recapture Magic

Monday, February 17, 2014
 

The Muhlenberg men’s lacrosse team was king of the comeback in 2013. A year later, the Mules hope the magic hasn’t faded.

Four times last season – twice in the face of big deficits against nationally ranked opponents – the Mules scored in the final 15 seconds of regulation to force overtime. One of those equalizers came with one tick remaining, another at the buzzer, and both capped fourth-quarter comebacks of at least five goals.

Jason Monroe
Monroe was second on the Mules with 17 caused turnovers a year ago.
To return to the postseason for the first time since 2008, Muhlenberg – which is scheduled to open Wednesday against Montclair State – will likely need to catch lightning in a bottle again.

“I think we have a little more magic in us,” said senior co-captain Danny Thomas. “I think we can take those games, look back at them, and keep learning how to finish.

“Playoffs are always the goal. We play in a very competitive conference, so every game is going to be close. We just have to make sure we come out on top in those games that are decided by one goal or at the very end.”

The Mules took a big step forward last season, finishing 6-9 overall and 2-6 in the Centennial Conference a year after going 2-12 overall and winless in league play. To continue the upward trend, Muhlenberg will have to successfully navigate its annual scheduling gauntlet. Its 14 opponents for 2014 were a combined 142-92 (.607) a year ago, and five of them were NCAA Tournament teams. And in the always loaded CC, Dickinson (5), Washington (9) and Gettysburg (20) all appear in the preseason top 20.

Tom Glancy
Glancy is third among active Mules with 14 career goals.
“It is always a challenge,” Thomas said of the Mules’ daunting schedule. “Every game takes a lot of preparation; even in practice we go over things tirelessly.”

With lots of experience lost to graduation, Muhlenberg will rely on a bevy of players to step into larger roles. Juniors Jon Thomas (28 goals, 9 assists) and Jason Mertz (22 goals, 9 assists) – half of a school-record four players with 20 goals last season – are back to lead the offense, while junior co-captain Adam Schlauch returns as the starting goalie after finishing fourth in the CC in saves per game last year.

Senior co-captain Tom Glancy is the most experienced attackman on the roster, and should be one of the team’s top scorers. Juniors Conner Burdick and John Hetzel, meanwhile, figure to compete for starting time on attack.

The Mules look to be strong in the midfield, where Jon Thomas will be joined by senior co-captains Matthew Gallo and Casey Gill. Gill, who netted four goals in the middle of the man-up unit last year, appears poised for a breakout final campaign. Juniors Pat Farrell and Michael Heenan should be in the mix in the midfield, while classmate Connor Winter, who turned in an excellent season as a defensive midfielder as a sophomore, could see some time on offense. Junior Austin Akner should also see significant time after moving over from attack in the fall.

“We have a lot of depth in the midfield,” Thomas said. “A lot of sophomores are really stepping up at practice, and the juniors are playing great. I really think we have some great talent there.”

Danny Thomas is the team’s most experienced defenseman, and the lone returning starter at close defense after taking over midway through last season. Sophomore Jashon DeSenna is projected to start at close defenseman after an outstanding fall, while classmate Louie Bellucci has also shown great improvement. Fellow sophomore Eamon Epstein will also push for playing time.

Senior co-captain Jason Monroe is expected to be one of the team’s top playmakers and could contend for all-conference honors as a longstick midfielder. Junior Nick Farmer, one of Muhlenberg’s most improved players last season, will also see time at that spot and as a faceoff wing.

Sophomore Ryan Bohrod is set to take over faceoff duties, along with classmate Steven Casella, and will also see action as a shortstick middie.

With so many players hungry to step in and prove themselves, Thomas sees the Mules as a dangerous group.

“We may not have a star player, but our depth can be a really good thing for us,” Thomas said, “because against teams that haven’t seen these players before, we are able to give them lots of different looks.”