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October 8, 2010

Fall Ball Weekend: Ten Items of Intrigue

by Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff | "Fall Ball Blitz" Series

Causes abound this weekend with the college lacrosse fall season in full swing.

New Cornell coach Ben DeLuca might have a new 1-2 punch to play with on attack, with Canadian recruit Cody Bremner joining Rob Pannell.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

The fourth-annual Colleluori Classic expects to draw up to 10,000 people Saturday and Sunday at Ridley (Pa.) High School. The event features 20 college men's lacrosse teams, with the Division I field Saturday and the Division II/III field Sunday. To date, the Colleluori Classic has raised $425,000 for the Headstrong Foundation, which helps fund research for blood cancer in honor of former Hoftra player Nick Colleuori, who died four years ago after battling non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The third-annual Catamount Classic will bring 12 college men's lacrosse teams from the Northeast to the Thayer Academy in Braintree, Mass., in support of testicular cancer research. Organized by Vermont men's lacrosse coach Ryan Curtis and his wife, Kelly, the event has raised $60,000 its first two years.

A new cause on the block is Play for Parkinson's Lacrosse, presented by the ProjectSpark Foundation, which was established by former Princeton and Team USA defenseman Christian Cook and his sister, Lauren. Their mother, Diane Cook, was diagnosed with early stage Parkinson's in 2008. Army, Georgetown, Princeton and Virginia will play Saturday at the Episcopal School in Alexandria, Va., in support of the foundation.

But even in good will, there's work to be done. Those events and others – like the US Lacrosse Stars and Stripes Weekend in Cambridge, Mass – bring together teams in search of an identity as they prepare for the 2011 season.

Here are 10 items of intrigue that could bear out on the field this weekend.

1. Will it be business as usual with the Big Red?

After 10 years as an assistant at Cornell, it seemed only a matter of time before Ben DeLuca had a program of his own. He just didn't expect it to be the Big Red. "No, not in my wildest dreams," he said. "I thought it would be somewhere else."

Cornell elevated DeLuca within 24 hours of Jeff Tambroni's departure to Penn State. The loss of a coach like Tambroni would jar many programs, but chances are good it will, in fact, be business as usual this fall in Ithaca. That's a big win for the Big Red.

There's also the business of replacing finisher extraordinaire Ryan Hurley. Look no further than freshman Cody Bremner. At 20 years old, the British Columbia native is already physically more mature than his classmates. He has been turning heads as a lefty gun for the Junior A Nanaimo Timbermen.

Cornell faces Villanova (9:30 a.m.) and Hofstra (12:30 p.m.) on Saturday in the Colleluori Classic. Look the Big Red to establish Bremner opposite All-American Rob Pannell, the quarterback of Cornell's offense.

"I think it's got the chance to be a pretty nice relationship there in regards to Cody's ability to finish the ball and Rob's ability to find the open man," DeLuca said.

2. At Hofstra, it's Gvozden's job in goal ... for now.

Goalie controversies seem to pop up frequently in the Gvozden family. Despite a strong showing in the 2008 NCAA tournament, Michael Gvozden never had the full backing of the Johns Hopkins faithful and was lifted his senior year for freshman Pierce Basset. Up at Hofstra, younger brother Andrew Gvozden likewise yielded to a split-time situation with freshman Rob Bellairs in 2010.

When the Pride opens fall ball Saturday against Cornell (12:30 p.m.) and Mount St. Mary's (4 p.m.) in the Colleluori Classic, keep an eye on what transpires in the cage.

"They understand what their situation is," Hofstra head coach Seth Tierney said. "I think it's Andrew's spot now, and we're just going to have to see how much Rob wants it and go from there. One of them is going to be the starting goalie."

The Pride gave Maryland a run in the first round of the NCAA tournament before bowing out in 2010. Middies Dan Stein and Tom Interlicchio are gone, but the rest of the roster returns nearly intact and will be augmented by freshmen and sophomores.

"That's what you do as a coach," Tierney said. "You try to gain some depth and try to get it so, 'If they do this, then we can do that,' or 'We're going to do this until they stop it.' That's what great teams do."

3. Under scrutiny, Virginia lacrosse teams get back to work.

The spotlight remains on coach Dom Starsia's men's lacrosse team at the University of Virginia, just six months removed from the arrest of former player George Huguely, who faces murder charges in a preliminary hearing in January.

© Matt Riley

The Cavaliers caught a reprieve when former men's lacrosse player George Huguely's preliminary hearing on charges in the murder of women's lacrosse player Yeardley Love was moved from October to January. They'll get to play fall ball without the specter of that trial.

That does not set them up well for a spring without distractions, however, and any time the Virginia lacrosse teams take the field seems to be a newsworthy event these days.

The UVA women's lacrosse team returned to the field Sept. 26 in a scrimmage against Maryland. Still mourning, "We made good strides," senior defender Liz Downs said. "We hustled. The heart was there."

The Cavaliers are back in action Wednesday against James Madison.

4. Stars (and Stripes) align at Harvard.

The US Lacrosse Stars and Stripes Weekend will bring the world's best men's and women's lacrosse players to Harvard for a series of exhibitions featuring members of the gold medal-winning 2010 U.S. men's national team, the 2010-11 U.S. women's national team and the 2011 U.S. women's U-19 team. Some storylines:

* It will be a busy weekend for Lehigh men's lacrosse coach and 2010 U.S. team co-captain Kevin Cassese, who will coach the Mountain Hawks against Towson (11 a.m.) and Fairfield (4 p.m.) at the Colleluori Classic on Saturday and then man the sidelines for Team USA against Harvard at 12 p.m. Sunday.

* So much for Doc's swan song. Team USA goalie Brian Dougherty, so clutch in the FIL final against Canada, will come out of his announced retirement to start in the cage against Harvard. He'll likely be spelled by Boston Cannons goalie Kip Turner, the reigning MLL Goalie of the Year.

* This will be Chazz Woodson's first time suiting up for the U.S. The LXM Pro Tour attackman has electrifying moves and is a must-see anytime he steps on the field.

* What will Harvard look like with Chris Wojcik at the helm? No one questions the Crimson's potential, especially with studs Jeff Cohen and Dean Gibbons up front on attack. But besides an upset here (Duke in 2009) and there (Princeton in 2010), Harvard has not been to the NCAA tournament since 2006. A scrimmage against Team USA has its benefits. Just ask NCAA champion Duke, which beat the U.S. in a January preseason exhibition, and Army, which played the U.S. tough in a loss that preceded their Patriot League title run and upset of Syracuse in the NCAA tournament.

5. Towson has question marks at midfield.

Freshman Andrew Hodgson could be the answer.

Overshadowed by the nation's top recruit (Nick Galasso, now at North Carolina) while at West Islip (N.Y.), Hodgson "can do it all," his high school coach Scott Craig said. "He was a big part of everything we did. I think he's hands-down one of the top players [coming out] this year."

Towson coach Tony Seaman's three-year contract, signed after the 2010 season in which he was named CAA Coach of the Year, means he no longer has to coach under must-win-now scrutiny. Perhaps he'll take his time with Hodgson, but there's no doubt the Tigers need help now at midfield after losing Christian Pastirik and Will Harrington.

Towson meets Lehigh (11 a.m.) and Villanova (2:30 p.m.) in Saturday's Colleluori Classic.

6. Is the Orange worth the squeeze?

Syracuse attacker Tee Ladouceur goes between the legs to shoot on goal during a 2009 fall ball scrimmage against North Carolina.

For the first time in the Gary Gait era, the Syracuse women's lacrosse team appears to be back-loaded, not front-heavy.

The Orange graduated All-Americans Christina Dove (midfield) and Halley Quillinan (attack), but defensive coordinator Regy Thorpe helped mend a once-porous defense, as Syracuse returns first team All-American goalie Liz Hogan.

Syracuse will need new go-to players on offense minus Dove and Quillinan, but do you honestly think a Gary Gait-coached team will have any problem scoring? Sophomore Michelle Tumolo and senior Tee Ladouceur are innovators on attack.

Check out the photo (at right) of Ladouceur shooting over her back and between the legs in a fall ball exhibition last year. Gait's girls like to let loose in fall ball, so Saturday's Syracuse Play Day featuring the Orange, Albany, Cortland and the Canadian U-19 team is worth a look.

7. How will North Carolina Maksym-ize its potential between the pipes?

Pardon the pun. Logan Ripley's departure from Chapel Hill leaves the Tar Heels with serious shoes to fill. She led UNC to the last two NCAA semifinals and spearheaded a defense that allowed just 7.25 goals per game, third in the nation in 2010. Also gone are Tewaaraton finalist Jenn Russell, a terrific two-way middie, and starting defender Kristen Carr.

Lauren Maksym, a sophomore who led Farmingdale (N.Y.) to a state title as a senior, is set to be Ripley's replacement.

"We're really confident in who we have replacing Logan," Tar Heels coach Jenny Levy said on a North Carolina athletics summer podcast.

UNC scrimmaged Duke on Thursday.

8. Will prized recruit Kaitlyn Brosco create a new Long Island connection in South Bend?

Notre Dame lost the top feeder in school history in Gina Scoscia to graduation. Even with Scoscia, the Irish had difficulty generating offense in 2010 after losing arguably the best player they've ever had in Jillian Byers.

They're hoping Kaitlyn Brosco, a tour de force in Suffolk County prep ball since making the Shoreham Wading River (N.Y.) varsity squad in eighth grade, will help fill that void – and hook up early and often with senior Shaylyn Blaney, who scored 40 goals last year.

Notre Dame hosts Cincinnati on Saturday.

9. What will Cortney Fortunato do for an encore?

Fortunato, only a sophomore at Northport (N.Y.), is the youngest player on the U.S. U19 team playing against Revolution (3:30 p.m. Sunday) and Mass Elite (5:30 p.m. Sunday) in the US Lacrosse Stars and Stripes Weekend. She sure doesn't play like it, her name buzzing all summer from her stellar play for the US Lacrosse U15 national champion Yellow Jackets to her dominance at U19 team tryouts.

Hype follows Fortunato wherever she plays. People in Cambridge are in for a treat.

10. Look out for BC.

Bowen Holden has quietly built a contender in Boston College. The Eagles are no longer a pushover in the ACC and boast a U.S. national team member in midfielder Kristin Igoe.

Igoe, a senior, could suit up against her college teammates when Team USA (as a split squad) takes on BC (and BU) at 1 and 3:30 p.m. Sunday in the US Lacrosse Stars and Stripes Weekend.

Joel Censer, Matt DaSilva, Brian Delaney and Patrick Stevens contributed to this report.


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