May 2, 2011

Making Sense: Le Moyne's Venditti Envisions Memorial Day Vindication

by Jac Coyne | LaxMagazine.com | Coyne Archive | Twitter


He may not get the kind of notoriety of teammates, both past and present, but Jack Venditti is the key cog in making the Le Moyne offense run for the past four seasons. The Dolphins are hoping Venditti will help break the three-year title-less drought.

© John Strohsacker

See that guy standing behind the cage, quarterbacking the Le Moyne offense? There he is, wearing No. 1. He's not the biggest guy on the field, but he does have superb hands and an uncanny ability to fit passes into tight spots. You've probably seen him before; he's been a starter for the Dolphins since the day he stepped on campus.

Either that, or you've missed Jack Venditti because he has made a living of making others look better.

Matt Chadderdon and Jack Harmatuck, Le Moyne's outstanding duo at midfield and attack, respectively, dodge and put the ball in the net with flash. But just watch Venditti, and you'll find he is the true catalyst for the Dolphins' offensive success.

"His size and his speed, nothing about him is intimidating, but he just consistently gets the job done," said Le Moyne head coach Dan Sheehan. "It's pretty tough to pass on game planning against Chadderdon and Harmatuck and going to Venditti, but I think at the end of the game, when you look to see what's going on, Jack is just consistently there."

It's not that Venditti doesn't score -- he's netted at least 17 goals a season since he arrived as a freshman -- it's just that working at "X" means his role also involves feeding others, especially Chadderdon, Harmatuck and attackman Vinnie Alexander.

"Having those kinds of players on your team attracts a lot of attention and, usually, that opens up little holes for me to get in there," Venditti said. "I feel like I've been fortunate to have those kinds of players from Mike McDonald my freshman year to Matt Chadderdon and Jack Harmatuck lately."

Venditti has worked from behind the cage since he first picked up a lacrosse stick in Baldwinsville, N.Y., and has mastered the art of knowing when to pass and when to shoot. He also has an interesting habit of moving to his left despite being a righthanded player. It's a vestige of his school years at C.W. Baker, where he set the table for righthander Jeremy Boltus, now an All-American attackman at Army and one of the premier gunners in Division I.

"Here in Section III, it was Boltus leading the way in goals and Venditti leading the way in assists pretty consistently his junior and senior year at Baldwinsville," Sheehan said.

Boltus contemplated coming to Le Moyne and keeping the partnership intact, according to Venditti.

"The things we could have done if he came here would have been fun," he said. "I've been surrounded by good players all along, which has helped my production."

Venditti has helped shape the reputation of many other players with whom he has shared the field. It may not get him as much notoriety as some of his teammates -- though he was a second team All-American last year -- but it is not lost on his coach.

"Jack does everything we ask him to," Sheehan said. "He's a two-year captain and one of the best leaders I've ever had the pleasure of coaching. Not just on the field during games, not just during practices, but off the field. He's the guy I can turn to for anything."

As Le Moyne enters the Northeast-10 tournament and likely the NCAA Division II tournament, Sheehan and the rest of the Dolphins will turn to Venditti to provide one last thing before he leaves. Le Moyne has advanced to national championship game every year Venditti has been around, but has yet to lift the Walnut and Bronze at the end.

"The last three years have been tough. Especially coming in as a freshman, I thought for sure we were going to win a national championship, as well as sophomore year," Venditti said. "Last year, going into halftime up three with all the momentum? Where did we go wrong? Going into this year, I think we've polished up some of those reasons why we have failed in the final quarters of those games. Having that as motivation has been huge this year."

Le Moyne has lost to C.W. Post in the national championship game the last two years. The Dolphins lost to NYIT in 2008.

"We've got a senior class that is really trying to use the experience of the last three years," Sheehan said. "I think that they are paying a little bit more attention to what things we do well and how to continue to do those, and maybe some weaknesses we need to work on or move in a different direction. We have a motivated senior class and they understand our past."

They also have Jack Venditti running the show. Take a look at him the next time you watch Le Moyne. You'll be surprised at what you see. He won't. He is, after all, the Dolphins' resident visionary.

Game Balls

Ben Chadwick – Midfield, Bowdoin
The seventh-seeded Polar Bears went on the road and knocked off second-seeded -- and No. 8 nationally -- Amherst, thanks to Chadwick, who scored two goals and set up six others in Bowdoin's 14-9 victory.

Dan Comite – Defense, SCAD
The Bees were able to stifle a high-powered Elon offense that hung 24 on UNC-Charlotte a day before to pick up the 8-7 victory in the SELC championship game. Comite and SCAD will return to Denver.

Andy Hilton – Attack, Brockport
The senior scored four goals, helping the Golden Eagles defeat Oswego, 16-9. More importantly, Hilton's efforts gave Brockport its first-ever bid to the four-team SUNYAC tournament.

Matt Levesque – Attack, Skidmore
With the top seed in the Liberty League on the line, Levesque had a monster game, scoring five goals -- including back-to-mark makers that gave the Thoroughbreds the lead they'd never lose -- to help Skidmore beat Clarkson, 13-10.

Matt Lynch – Attack, Goucher
The junior scored three goals set up two others, but his most important play came in the third overtime against Drew, when Lynch stuck the game-winner to give the Gophers the No. 1 seed in the Landmark tourney.

Brian Scheetz – Attack, Mercyhurst
The last big obstacle between the Lakers and the Wild Card bid to the NCAA tournament was a home date against NYIT, and the sophomore made sure The Hurst cleared the hurdle, scoring two goals and dishing out two assists in the 10-8 victory

Power Fives

Men's Division II
1. C.W. Post (15-1) – The Pioneers return to the top spot, but you can bet Post is a little leery of seeing Mercyhurst again for a shot at Baltimore.
2. Le Moyne (12-1) – It's looking like the Dolphins will get another crack at Limestone, but they might have to do it South Carolina this time.
3. Mercyhurst (10-2) – The way the Lakers are playing right now, it's getting easier to chalk up Chestnut Hill result to "just one of those games."
4. Limestone (15-1) – The rout of Catawba – the Deep South Conference champs – 19-3 was a nice bounce-back win for the Saints.
5. Adelphi (13-2) – The Panthers edge out Dowling for the fifth spot. Le Moyne has to be very worried about Adelphi despite the win already.

Men's Division III
1. RIT (15-0) – How the Tigers aren't the consensus No. 1 team in the country spotlights how skewed the North-South perspective in the USILA poll is.
2. Dickinson (15-1) – Bland is beautiful. The Red Devils and their coach, Dave Webster, are a boring bunch, but they win an awful lot of games.
3. Salisbury (16-1) – The Gulls were still second in the regional rankings behind Stevenson despite the latest win. I doubt a WAC win will change that.
4. Stevenson (17-2) – The win over Denison was an impressive way to end the season, but the Mustangs are going to be idle for two full weeks.
5. Tufts (13-2) – The absolute last team the Jumbos wanted to draw in the NESCAC semifinals was a Bowdoin team playing with house money.

MCLA Division I
1. Michigan (14-0) – The Wolverines have been able to handle postseason distractions in the past. Will they be able handle the current one?
2. Brigham Young (15-2) – The Cougars certainly didn't do their conference any favors by annihilating Utah on Saturday. BYU is playing well.
3. Colorado State (11-2) – We'll give BYU the bump, but remember the Rams' loss was on the back-end of double-down. I still like the Rams in the rematch.
4. Michigan State (11-4) – For the past two years, Michigan has been unable to slow Pat Nemes. They'll get another chance in the CCLA finals.
5. Arizona State (10-3) – If everything falls into place for ASU, there's a very real possibility that the Sun Devils could snap the second overall seed.

MCLA Division II
1. Grand Valley State (15-0) – Does waxing just about every team on its schedule help the Lakers, or hurt them if things get tight in Denver?
2. St. John's (14-3) – The Johnnies confirmed that there might be other good games, but the best rivalry in MCLA Division II is with the Tommies.
3. St. Thomas (16-2) – It's still tough to see UST being any lower than a second seed in Denver, but losses have consequences in the Power Fives.
4. Davenport (13-4) – There will be no surprises for the Panthers at the national tournament, and that is going to serve them very well.
5. Western Oregon (12-1) – I'm surprised there isn't more talk of WOU going D-I. I bet Fraser or Oregon couldn't hang a 30-spot on the Wolves.

Monday Notebooks

NCAA Division II: The tournament teams are essentially picked.
NCAA Division III: The brutal NESCAC season-ending weekend.
MCLA Division I: Overlook Florida State at your own peril.
MCLA Division II: Like usual, St. John's is doing it with defense.


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