posted 02.20.2014 at 10.33 a.m. by Jac Coyne

Morning Jac: Stagnitta Still Figuring Out Arcadia

When Jim Stagnitta, the first-year head coach at Arcadia, is asked if he has a feel for his team, the answer is short and swift.

"No," he said.

Arcadia, like seemingly every program in the country, has been hamstrung by the weather that has made this year unlike any other for most coaches. But for Stagnitta, who joins the Knights after two seasons as the head coach of the MLL's Denver Outlaws and hasn't coached in Division III for 13 years, the weather has made it difficult to gauge what he'll be working with this spring.

"I looked at it yesterday after we had another scrimmage canceled this weekend. We've had 22 practices, and we were outside for the first two, so we didn't really go full field," Stagnitta said. "Then we were able to shovel the field, and we were out for two days and the next storm hit. We shoveled half of it and then the next storm hit. We've been outside for four days, but none in the last 10."

Even though he has only had rare glimpses of his team on a full field, he has seen enough half field situations to get a vague outline of how he'll be approaching this campaign.

"We're improved from last year," Stagnitta said. "The problem is my plan was to go out and start with the stuff I knew we had to do regardless of what the talent level was and our abilities were. Getting the riding and clearing part down and the unsettled stuff, to how you rate the talent. Well, we had to shelve that and do a lot of six-on-six stuff inside and it has been trial and error. A lot of the stuff is trying to figure out who we are and where we are, and we're pretty close to figuring it out, but it's kind of in reverse of how I wanted to do it."

Arcadia will start its second varsity season in 2014, so hypothesizing that the Knights will be improved is not a daring prognostication. They did go 5-10 last year, but only won one game in the MAC Freedom. To get to six wins, Stagnitta will be using all of the knowledge he's acquired over the years. While Stagnitta last season in Division III was 2001 at Washington & Lee, he'll be applying many of the concepts he used at the pro and Division I ranks (he was at Rutgers for 10 years).

"I've been watching a lot of those D-I games that have been on over the past couple of weekends and what we're doing is very similar to what you're seeing in D-I and even what we were doing in Denver," he said. "It fits us because we don't have the horses to break you down and run right by you. What we're doing is a lot of stuff to make us better dodgers. A lot of picking and popping and dodging. It is more about defining the roles with what we've got."

The defense will likely be the signature unit for the Knights and is certainly the deepest level of the field. Sophomore attackman Chris Jacovino, who was the MAC Freedom rookie of the year, will be the lead dog up front while the first midfield line will be made up of sophomore Ryan Griffo and rookies John Caruso and Joe Stanton.

Stagnitta will get a little more time with his team after the announcement yesterday that the season opener against Immaculata, originally scheduled for this weekend, has been pushed back until next Wednesday.

How this team jells in its second season is very much up in the air, but Arcadia could potentially find itself in a postseason chase.

"I think we can compete certainly for a playoff spot in the conference tournament," Stagnitta said. "Anything can happen on any day. There are a couple of teams that have separated themselves from everybody else, and then there's everybody else. I think we're going to have to steal one here and there, and win the ones we should. We have a shot at competing for a league tournament berth, but I don't know if it would be fair to set any goals outside of that. We just want to improve week to week as much as we can. There's just a lot to learn."

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