By Meghan Creane
The men’s lacrosse team has some big shoes to fill this season. Having graduated 13 seniors — at least one from every position — the Dutchmen are going to have to work hard starting in pre-season.
Luckily for their fans and coaches, working hard isn’t something this group is afraid of. If you ask any of them, they will tell you flat-out that their long-term goal is a national championship, but they are quick to correct you if you think it’s their only goal.
Charlie Ross ’15 speaks for every member of the Dutchmen when he says, “We only have one immediate goal, and that is to prepare for and beat SUNY Cortland on Feb. 28.”
This year, the team will again start with SUNY Cortland, who have, as goalie and captain Stefan Basile ’15 explained, “one of the best programs in the country year in and year out.”
That being said, the Dutchmen fell to SUNY Cortland by only one point (6-7) in last year’s bout on the Red Dragons’ home field, and the team plans to hit back even harder this year.
Having never beaten the nationally ranked Cortland team, Cam Slatton ’16 and the Dutchmen are “hoping this is the year to finally take them down out on Long Island.”
As they move forward into their season, the Dutchmen will be relying on their returning players to make a big impact. They will be looking especially to their four captains for guidance and leadership. With a captain at each of the four positions, the Dutchmen have set themselves up with a well-rounded team.
Starting in the back will be Basile, a captain and 1st Team All-American who is, in many Dutchmen’s opinions, both the greatest goalie in the country and up for Player of the Year.
Connor Hall ’15 considers Basile to be “the rock of the team. He keeps the defense strong and is just a total savage back there.”
Moving up the field, we find captain and 2nd Team All-American Adam Sands ’15 and the rest of the Dutchmen’s defense.
As Ross explained, “Sands is a vocal leader and physical player on the defense.” Aside from his physicality, Sands has real strength in his ability to move the ball out of the backfield.
As captain Richard Gregory ’15 said, the team is also going to look to Lance Lonergan ’17 to make an impact on defense.
The midfield will be led by captain Connor Hall ’15, a pre-season All-American Honorable Mention and the “face-off specialist” for the Dutchmen. Hall’s work at the face-off is revered by every member of his team and his ability to overcome injury, as demonstrated last season, is a leadership quality looked up to by all.
Alex D’Amario ’15 and Adam Rosenthal ’15 are also expected to have big seasons. D’Amario is a natural leader on the field with a good sense of the game and, as always, people are looking forward to Rosie’s creative goal-scoring work.
Cam Slatton and Tom Stanton ’16 are also going to be money players for the Dutchmen. Each with many games and victories under their belt, these juniors will be expected to create a smooth transition from defense to attack, as well as to take shot opportunities, as they are both wont to do.
A younger contribution to the midfield will come from Kyle Mason ’17, from whom Gregory expects big things in the 2015 season.
The Union attack will be captained by Richard Gregory. Gregory is a dynamic player who has scored some memorable goals for the Dutchmen.
He is joined by Ross, who noted that “the attack have been developing new looks and plays never executed by any Union Lacrosse team before us.”
With the addition of Peter “Puck” Richardson ’17, the attack is looking strong for the Dutchmen.
While the men on the field are of immeasurable importance, the men on the sidelines are vital to the Dutchmen’s success, as well.
Head coach Paul Wehrum is back for yet another season of hard-fought lacrosse and will be joined by Derek Witheford, Nolan Connors and Nate Greenberg.
With Connors and Greenberg having only recently graduated the program, the Dutchmen’s coaching staff is a unique combination of youth and experience.
As Slatton and Ross agree, the “free-flowing” coaching style of Wehrum is exactly what they need to make this season “the biggest season yet for Union Lacrosse.”
The individuals on the Union Men’s Lacrosse team can be discussed for hours. Their stats are tremendous and their passion is undeniable.
However, the bond between the members of the team is perhaps the most important factor. Every man on the team, regardless of age or playing time, will tell you that the thing they most look forward to is playing the game they love with the people who have become their best friends.
Slatton puts it very clearly when he says, “Personally what I am looking forward to the most its just getting that team atmosphere we have each and every year. Not just 40 guys who are close on the field but are together at all times off the field as well. Having a bunch of teammates is cool, but having an entire team of your best friends is something special.”
You can feel their genuine love and respect for each other just by listening to them talk about the team. Not one single player will mention himself, but any one of them could talk for days about the successes of their teammates.