February 10, 2012

Bryant Opens Season at Colgate

from press release

SMITHFIELD, R.I.
– The Bryant University men's lacrosse team opens the 2012 campaign Saturday afternoon, as the Bulldogs travel to Hamilton, N.Y., to take on first-time opponent and 19th-ranked Colgate at 1 p.m. at Andy Kerr Stadium.

The contest kicks off the Bulldogs' fourth season of Division I competition and its second with full NCAA eligibility. Saturday's game represents the season opener for the Raiders as well, though Colgate has played in a pair of preseason scrimmages over the last two weeks.

"Our guys are very anxious to play a team in a different color jersey," said sixth-year head coach Mike Pressler. "It's been since October that we've played anyone not wearing the Black and Gold. Colgate has had the opportunity to go against a different color jersey with two preseason scrimmages against Delaware and Cornell but we haven't, so this is big for our guys."

Both teams enter the game looking to start not only 2012, but the all-time series on a strong note, as Saturday's matchup marks the first-ever faceoff between these two squads in program history. Colgate is one of just two first-time opponents the Bulldogs will face this season, and Pressler and his team are prepared to face their new competition after a strong preseason camp.

"Our guys were terrific during the preseason," said Pressler. "They came back [from winter break] in great shape, and we had a great three-day minicamp before classes began.

"Like most teams, we are battling some injuries and have some guys that are banged up," he added, "but I've always said, if we're going to work hard and get after each other getting ready for the season, that's going to happen."

The Raiders will count on the return of leading scorer Peter Baum, the 2012 Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and Preseason Second Team All-American, to pace their offense in 2012 as he did in 2011, when he posted 49 points off 34 goals and 15 assists, all team bests. Joining him on the attacking end will be co-captain Jeff Ledwick and sophomore Jimmy Ryan, who combined for 19 goals with 15 and 11 points a year ago, respectively.

Jared Madison returns to defend the goal for Colgate after starting all 16 games and recording an 11-5 record last season. The senior playing all but 8:23 between the pipes to post an 8.13 goals against average and .539 save percentage and made 151 saves while facing more than 500 shots.

At the faceoff X, the Raiders will have to make up for the loss of Jim Carroll, who paced the team with 85 ground balls and went 163-for-286 in taking the majority of Colgate's faceoffs in 2011. Robert Grabher returns the most experience in the specialty position for Colgate, going 17-of-35 (.486) from the X as a sophomore, but the Bulldogs will also offer up a new face Saturday to fill the shoes of the now-graduated Trever Sipperly, who finished 14th in the nation in faceoff percentage (184-305) and picked up a team-high 84 ground balls for the Black and Gold in 2011.

"It's our first time playing in Hamilton and playing this team," said Pressler. "Colgate has a new coach, one I know well, and one who has a great reputation, so there's a lot of new and a lot of unknown for both teams going into this one."

The Bulldogs will introduce a host of new faces in a highly touted rookie class in the season debut, as the group integrates with such veterans such as top scorers Max Weisenberg (Long Beach, N.Y.), Peter McMahon (Wilton, Conn.) and Travis Harrington (Vestal, N.Y.), stalwart defensemen Tim Clinton (Darien, Conn.) and Mason Poli (Downingtown, Pa.), and three-year starting goalie Jameson Love (Darien, Conn.), to name a few.

Those new faces will be counted on to help make up the loss of two of Bryant's top four scorers from 2011 in NEC Offensive Player of the Year Gary Crowley (28-7=35) and midfielder Evan Roberts (13-13=26), as well as the graduation of starting defensemen Joe Rauchut and Ryan Mahoney.

"Some of our young guys, and even some of our older guys, could get their first career starts Saturday, and there's a lot of excitement to see how they respond," said Pressler. "There's no magic formula here, we just have to throw them into the fire and see what happens. To what degree each team will have some new units, we don't know, but it is exciting for the coaches and the players to see how we respond, and I am very confident that we are going to respond in a positive fashion."

The Bulldogs, who are receiving votes in the preseason USILA Coaches Poll for the second-consecutive season, kick off their 16-game schedule at 1 p.m. The game can be viewed online in real time at www.gocolgateraiders.com.


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