January 26, 2011

Patriot Coaches Favor Army to Repeat

from press release

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Defending champion Army is the favorite to repeat as Patriot League men's lacrosse champion in 2011, it was announced Wednesday by the League on its annual preseason media teleconference. In addition, a pair of Army senior student-athletes garnered individual honors as attackman Jeremy Boltus was named Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and defender Bill Henderson was named Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

Voting was conducted by head coaches and sports information directors around the League who could not cast a ballot for their own teams or players.

Fresh off the 2010 Patriot League title and a second-round run in the NCAA Tournament, Army garnered the maximum 78 points and 12 first-place votes to sit atop the 2011 preseason poll. Coming in second was 2010 runner-up Navy, which lost to the Black Knights in last year's title game. The Midshipmen captured 58 points and one first-place vote. Bucknell garnered the remaining first-place vote and 51 points to take third, while Colgate collected 39 points for fourth. Rounding out the poll was Lehigh in fifth place (31 points), Lafayette in sixth (30) and Holy Cross in seventh (13).

Boltus led the League in points (67) and assists (38) in 2010 while posting a League-best 3.94 points per game en route to first-team All-Patriot League accolades. He is part of Army's potent returning 1-2 scoring punch with sophomore Garrett Thul.

Henderson was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 and earned first-team All-League honors for the second consecutive season. He played in all 17 of his team's games and was second on the squad with 44 ground balls. He was one of three Army student-athletes last year to earn All-America accolades, as he earned honorable mention status.

The Black Knights are coming off a season where they finished 11-6 overall, 6-0 in the Patriot League and upset two-time defending national champion Syracuse in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the Carrier Dome. Besides Boltus and Thul leading the offense and Henderson anchoring the defense, senior goalkeeper Tom Palesky returns to man the net for Army for sixth-year head coach Joe Alberici.
Navy finished second in the preseason balloting and is bolstered by junior goalkeeper R.J. Wickham, who led the League in save percentage (.593) and saves per game (12.53) while finishing third in goals-against average (8.55). Head coach Richie Meade, in his 17th year in Annapolis, will rely on senior Andy Warner (22 g, 15 a), his top returning scorer, for the offensive spark, while seniors Tom Mansfield (11 gb) and Michael Hirsch (26 gb) will anchor the defense in front of Wickham.

Bucknell qualified for the Patriot League Tournament for the fourth consecutive year in 2010, and Frank Fedorjaka's club is looking for more in 2011. Now in his sixth year in Lewisburg, Fedorjaka has senior midfielder Ryan Klipstein and junior midfielder Charlie Streep bringing back combined 57 goals and 76 points between the two of them. Streep and senior midfielder Jake Clarke were both named preseason All-America by Inside Lacrosse, and the Bison return sophomore goalkeeper Kyle Feeney, who led the League with a 7.45 GAA and was second with a .569 save percentage.

Colgate finished fourth in the preseason poll. A year after finishing 3-10 overall and 2-4 in the League, head coach Jim Nagle has his club moving forward for 2011. Sophomore Peter Baum looks to build on his incredible freshman campaign in which he led the team with 29 goals. Four of the team's five leading point scorers from 2010 are all back, as Ben McCabe (24 g, 9 a), Patrick Campbell (12 g, 12 a) and Chris Zielinski (7 g, 10 a) return. The Raiders' four League losses last year were all one-goal contests.

Lehigh captured fifth in the poll with 31 points. Kevin Cassese is in his fourth year in Bethlehem and looks forward to bringing two nationally-prominent programs to Goodman Stadium during the year. Penn State will visit April 2 and North Carolina comes to Goodman April 17 in a contest that will be televised by CBS College Sports Network. Five of the Mountain Hawks' six leading point scorers are back from last season, with Dante Fantoni (26 g, 14 a) heading up the attack.

Lafayette garnered 30 points and sixth place in the preseason poll. Coach Terry Mangan accomplished several firsts in 2010, as the Leopards defeated nationally-ranked squads for the first time and captured their first-ever win over Navy. To cap it off, Lafayette qualified for the Patriot League Tournament for the first time in program history before losing 11-9 in the semifinals to Navy. Senior attackmen Stefan Bauer (15 g, 30 a) and Tom Perini (32 g, 6 a) provide a potent 1-2 scoring punch returning for the Leopards, who set a program record with eight wins last year.

Holy Cross took seventh with 13 points. The Crusaders have experience returning at defense, but there will be a lot of new faces in the lineup for Adam Pascal's club, who is in his seventh season in Worcester. Holy Cross opens with three of its first four games at home and is coming off a 5-10 season in which it defeated Dartmouth and Colgate for the first time in history.

The season opens Saturday, Feb. 12 with three contests. The first game starts at 12 p.m. with Navy hosting VMI in Annapolis, Md. Lehigh will be home to entertain Saint Joseph's for a 1 p.m. start, while defending champion Army plays its first game of the season on the road at Massachusetts. That game is slated for 1 p.m.

2011 Patriot League Men's Lacrosse Preseason Poll
1. Army - 78 points (12 first-place votes)
2. Navy - 58 points (1)
3. Bucknell - 51 (1)
4. Colgate - 39
5. Lehigh - 31
6. Lafayette - 30
7. Holy Cross - 13

Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Jeremy Boltus, Army, A, Sr.
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Bill Henderson, Army, D, Sr.


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