Practice pennies, neon green laces, new faces and the promise of a new season not far off -- all signs point to fall ball, college lacrosse's annual rite of initiation.
With 2010 in the books and 2011 in mind, LMO's "Fall Ball Blitz" series checks in with coaches and players around the country for the latest developments.
RECENT "FALL BALL
BLITZ" STORIES | ARCHIVE
Stony Brook Out to Prove 2010 Was No Fluke
by Corey McLaughlin | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff
Reigning USILA Player of the Year Kevin Crowley leads surging Stony Brook, which returns its entire attack and midfield intact for the third straight year.
© Kevin P. Tucker
The Stony Brook men's lacrosse team addressed the elephant in its room briefly at the beginning of the fall. Yes, the Seawolves had a great season in 2010, going 13-4 and reaching the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament. Yes, they return 24 players from that team, including Tewaaraton finalist Kevin Crowley and all members of the starting attack and midfield.
But, yes, they can't get complacent. Because they're not sneaking up on anyone anymore.
"We put ourselves on the map, and that was a goal of ours, but now the shoe is on the other foot because of everything that's happened," Stony Brook coach Rick Sowell said. "Once at the beginning of the fall we said, 'Hey fellas, this is what we signed up for. Now we have to deal with it.'"
Its place on the outskirts of the Division I elite is exciting territory for Stony Brook, which won its most games in school history in 2010, earned the No. 8 seed for the postseason, won its first NCAA tournament game and lost by one goal to Virginia in the quarterfinals before more than 10,000 fans at its own LaValle Stadium on Long Island.
"We can't ignore it," Sowell said. "Given all the attention we received coming off last year, it really has been incredible. Having said that, there was some concern in early June looking ahead to 2011: What is this going to do to our guys, the pats on the back? Are they going to be complacent?"
"We don't want to be a one-hit wonder," Sowell continued. "Now that we're midway through the fall, I can say that none of the guys has disappointed us. They came back from the summer in condition and ready to work. They've done nothing but work since they got on campus, just like it was a year ago."
The Seawolves bring back an unusual, large number of impact players on the offensive end. It will be the third consecutive season that the attack and first midfield units are identical.
Crowley, the USILA Division I Player of the Year, set the school record for goals in a season last year with 51. He also had 26 assists. Fellow starting midfielders Robbie Campbell and Timmy Trenkle are back, too.
On attack, Jordan McBride had 48 goals and eight assists in 2010 and became Stony Brook's all-time leading goal scorer as a junior. Tom Compitello (37g, 35a) and Kyle Belton (23g, 5a) also return.
So does faceoff specialist Adam Rand, who was third-best in Division I in win percentage last season (61.6 percent, slightly behind the leader, Hartford's Tim Fallon at 62.2).
"A lot of times the teams that break out into the scene have seniors, and then they go back into rebuilding mode," Sowell said. "That's not quite the scenario for us."
There is work to do on defense, however. Gone is long stick midfielder Steven Waldeck, a team leader and versatile player, two starting close defensemen and the starting goalie the last two seasons, Charlie Paar.
Through the fall, the defense includes: At close defense, the lone returning starter Bryan Reinert, junior Savaughn Greene and Kyle Moeller, a transfer from Manhattan. Jak Wawrzyniak, a 6-3, 200-pounder from Manchester, England, is also in the mix. He played last year at Avon Old Farms in Connecticut and was the youngest member (19 years old) on Team England at the 2010 FIL World Championships. Sowell, an assistant with Team USA, coached against him.
Sophomore Joseph Laforet and junior Greg Miceli will likely split time at long stick midfield. Laforet, a Canadian from the Hill Academy coached by Brodie Merrill, played short stick midfield last year as a freshman, but has made the switch. Sowell said Laforet is the best conditioned player on the team.
The short stick defensive middies are Vonzel LeGall and Jared LeVerne. Campbell, the first line offensive middie, will also see some time at defensive midfield.
Fifth-year senior Rob Camposa will likely be the starting goaltender. He took a planned redshirt last year as the Stony Brook staff looked ahead to its potential goalie situation in 2011.
Though he was Paar's backup, Camposa has been part of big games for the Stony Brook program. In 2009, he started the final three games of the season when Paar went down with an ankle injury. In an America East semifinal game win over Albany, Camposa made 15 saves. He had 16 saves in a loss to UMBC that year in the America East championship game.
FALL BALL BLITZ
Team: Stony Brook
2010 Record: 13-4
2010 In Review: The best season in the 27-year history of the program. The 13 wins were the most ever for the program and they included victories over Towson, Delaware and Denver (in the first round of the NCAA tournament). They ended the season ranked No. 6 in the coaches and media polls.
Goodbye... Steven Waldeck. "No question, he was the heart and soul of our team," Sowell said of the long stick midfielder. He started all four years, had 313 career ground balls, including 112 in 2010. Among all long poles, he led the country with 10 goals and four assists last season. He was on the wing on faceoffs, too, helping Rand to a high win percentage. "Not one person can replace what he brought. We're going to count on a few guys to pick up the slack," Sowell said.
Hello... Stony Brook added 15 freshmen and transfers this offseason, so there are plenty of hellos to be had. Here are three new players who've impressed Sowell:
- Matt Bellando. Listed at 5-foot-4, the freshman attackman is shorter than your average lacrosse player, but uses his size effectively. He scored 86 goals and had 41 assists to lead perennial Boca Raton, Fla., power Saint Andrew's to a 20-2 record and a state title in 2010. It was St. Andrew's third straight state title. "The young man can score," Sowell said. "He's dynamic and it didn't take long for him to show his ability to put the ball in the back of the net." Bellando also played hockey growing up, so he should fit in nicely with Stony Brook's Canadian crew, including Crowley and McBride. "I see that hockey in him with some of the things he does with his wrists," Sowell said.
- Kyle Moeller, the defensive transfer from Manhattan, was second team All-MAAC as a sophomore and is capable of covering a top attackman, Sowell said. He will help take pressure off other members of the defense. "He'll be a nice addition," Sowell said.
- Mike Rooney. A freshman attackman from East Islip on Long Island that finished a four-year varsity career with 176 goals and 95 assists, has also impressed. "He's got a savviness about him, a quiet confidence," Sowell said. "He looks pretty good." Rooney was a quarterback for the football team at East Islip.
Offseason Developments: The addition of 15 players has boosted the total members of the team to 39. The roster had 30 players last year, and Sowell is excited about the increased number, as it provides more options for practice.
"We can get up and down the field and full-field scrimmage longer than we could a year ago," Sowell said. "Guys were running out of gas. It was tricky. Now we can get up and down in transition drills, full blown. It's been fun being able to have depth."
Some of the added depth is specifically included in the second midfield, and because of that Sowell said, "As crazy as it sounds, we feel our offense can be even better."
Adam Dahms comes as a transfer from Essex Community College in Baltimore and is seeing time on the second midfield. Sowell called the lefty "a playmaker who can break down a defense," and is considering at times playing him on the first midfield because of potential favorable matchups that can be created when Dahms and Kevin Crowley are on the field together. "We'll see how that goes," Sowell said. "We're tooling around with that."
Russ Bonanno, a midfielder who transferred from Nassau Community College on Long Island, will be eligible this spring and is also in the second midfield mix with junior Tyler McCabe, a solid off-ball player, and junior Graham Adams.
"A lot of times last year we used the second midfield to kill some clock while the first unit caught their breath," Sowell said. "This year the second midfield is capable of doing more."
Big Question: How does Stony Brook's defense come together? With basically an entire new defense to break in, the Seawolves are glad to have an entire offense returning and one of the best faceoff men in the country. They might need those units to take some pressure off the developing defense.
"Our strength is offense and faceoffs, and certainly that helps carry the defense while we find our way," Sowell said.
Fall Schedule: Stony Brook hosts Brown and Hobart this Saturday, Oct. 16. It plays Brown at noon and Hobart at 4 p.m., with Brown and Hobart playing at 2 p.m. The Seawolves travel north to UMass to play the Minutemen on Saturday, Oct. 23.
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