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
Fall Ball Turning Into a Battle for Greensboro
|You can expect that senior Will White will be a staple
on defense for the Pride in 2011, but just about every other spot
on the field is up for grabs during fall ball.
© Greensboro College
This fall is not like most autumns for the Greensboro men.
Unlike in years past when head coach Dan Cetrone had an idea who was going to be contributing pretty much from the first practice, this fall finds the race wide open.
"We have 42 spots on the roster and 38 players legitimately have a shot to play for us," said Cetrone. "I mean legitimately get quality time for us. We've never been in that spot before."
To figure out who is going to be on the field for the Pride in 2011, Cetrone and his staff are shelving any notions of an easygoing fall. Each week, the players suit up and compete in Green-White scrimmages that have all of the energy and contact of a regular season contest.
"Our guys are always fired up about it," said Cetrone. "They battle every Friday and the guys in the training room are asking us, 'What are you guys doing?'"
Greensboro will need the competition level to be high because they have some serious holes to fill. On the offensive end, Cetrone estimates he has about 25 points returning out of 218. Both goalies in last year's platoon have graduated, leaving a sophomore and two freshmen to vie for the starting spot.
The defense returns plenty of experience and Greensboro has a solid face-off man in Skip Jakupi, but those two areas will only be able to cover so many warts.
An underlying factor in the Pride's urgency – albeit one that Cetrone and the team are unlikely to admit to – is this year offers Greensboro its best chance at making the NCAA tournament. With the Pool B expanding to four teams this season and the movement of SCAC schools (notably Colorado College) to Pool A, a solid season from the Pride could translate into the first ever bid to the Big Dance.
Cetrone hasn't been unable to crack the NCAC cabal schedule-wise, but he does have a key game against Whittier in Philadelphia and a strong schedule featuring Salisbury, among other high-end ODAC teams. A solid record should keep Greensboro in the discussion, at minimum, until Selection Sunday.
"You need to put together a competitive schedule and you need to win," said Cetrone. "You can't put it out there [to the players] that there is a fourth Pool B team and it's our spot to take. You have to earn it. That's where I see it."
It's this attitude that drives the Pride during fall ball as they attempt to find a team that can win the games it needs in the spring.
And it's the same attitude that will keep the Greensboro training room busy until the end of fall ball.
FALL BALL BLITZ
2010 Record: 9-6 (Independent)
2010 In Review: Despite a strong schedule, featuring Salisbury and some of the top teams in the ODAC, a three-game losing streak to end the season sunk any Pool B chances for the Pride. Greensboro won six of seven in the middle of the season, including four one-goal triumphs.
Goodbye... John Anglin and Nick Patrone. Anglin was voted the team MVP in 2010. "Anything you needed done, whether it was man-up, man-down, or a key ground ball, John was always there," said Cetrone. Patrone led the Pride in goals (29) and points (34). "When we needed a goal, it wasn't a question about where the ball was going." Oddly enough, the duo amassed a third of the total team penalty minutes in 2010.
Hello... Alex Vander Hoff and Brent Gonzalez. With Greensboro losing nearly all of its points from last year, it's not surprising a pair of rookies will get a long look on attack. Vander Hoff, out of Apex (N.C.) High School, will be a creator for the Pride while Gonzalez, from Westerville (Ohio) South High School, will be operating on the crease.
Offseason Developments: There are a pair of key departures for the Pride. Assistant coach Andrew Carey has left the Greensboro staff to become the first head coach at Huntingdon (Ala.) College. "He was significant in recruiting for us, but we're excited about his opportunity," said Cetrone. Mike Foderaro will replace Carey. In addition, junior Brad Gesser, who was third on the team in scoring (26g, 6a) last year and expected to be a big part of the offense this season, is no longer with the program.
Big Question: Can Greensboro form a cohesive team in time for the spring even with all of the personnel losses facing the team? Even last year, the Pride weren't always clicking as a unit, often leading to sloppy play and bad turnovers. As a result, Cetrone and his staff will be focusing on getting everyone on the same page. "We've been doing a lot of things off the field, focusing on team camaraderie and just building each other up," said Cetrone. "If we can communicate off the field, it will only help us on the field and help us be successful."
Fall Schedule: The Pride will compete in the D-II/D-III challenge to be held in Greensboro on Oct. 9. It will feature Greensboro, Guilford and Elon (MCLA D-II) against Belmont Abbey, Lees-McRae and Lenoir-Rhyne in consecutive game starting at 4 p.m. GC will host its alumni game on Oct. 30. "We have a great list of guys coming back," said Cetrone.
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