Morning Jac: Tough Week Ahead for Cabrini
Cabrini head coach Steve Colfer wanted to reemphasize a critical point to his players in the wake of their comfortable, 17-4 season opening victory on Saturday.
"I told them when they were walking out of the locker room at Haverford, if there is a program that has a tougher first week – on the road at Haverford, home with Dickinson and then basically on the road with Lynchburg – I'm not sure who it is," Colfer said.
Colfer obviously wasn't trying to scare his players. He just wanted to keep them on task for what is going to be a grinding, eight-day stretch. The No. 7 Cavaliers found this out last year when they were dealt two of their four losses on the season during a parallel period.
Cabrini coasted by Haverford, but then were shut down against Dickinson, losing 12-6, and were edged by Lynchburg, 11-9. It'll be no easier this year with the Red Devils entering the contest ranked No. 5 and the Hornets at No. 9.
"Last year against Dickinson we didn't generate enough shots and against Lynchburg, we had 50 shots but only nine goals," Colfer said. "We didn't have a high enough shooting percentage. We need to do better against those teams, but give the credit to Coach Koudelka and Coach Webster and their staffs for putting together a good game plan and executing."
The first challenge is on Wednesday against Dickinson, which is coming off a 13-8 victory over No. 12 St. Mary's. The Cavs are hoping that they don't have a reprise of the first two quarters they logged against the Red Devils in '13.
"Our halftime score with Dickinson last year was 3-2," Colfer said. "Dave [Webster] and I talked about not too long ago and we said it might have been the worst half of college lacrosse of the season. The ball was just flying all over the yard. It was going out of bounds. It was just not good lacrosse. I don't think either team viewed that as their finest 30 minutes of lacrosse."
Colfer has a decent enough idea of what Dickinson will throw at him on Wednesday, but he's not going to get too caught up in the particulars. He's done that before with less than optimum results.
"Obviously, we do advanced scouting, but at the same time, we don't want to invest so much energy in that we forget what we're supposed to be doing," he said. "We can't get away from who we are and what our identity is. That can happen. I've made that mistake as a head coach, especially early on when we were going to the NCAA tournament. We were trying to anticipate everything a team was going to do and every move a kid was going to make and every play called. Sometimes it would be such a distraction that we couldn't focus on us.
"You have to balance it, and early in the year we know more about us because Dickinson and Lynchburg have only played two games. It's not like they have a full season of work we can dive into. We have some new players, and there some young guys for both programs. The tendency is to not over-analyze things early because there is not that much film to crunch, so you put that time back into yourself and really to try to evolve and develop your own strengths."
Cabrini's strength is clearly scoring (although the four goals allowed against Haverford was an impressive display, as well), led by Corey Elmer. "We like to shoot the ball," Colfer said. "We like to get up and down." They'll have to do it against a stingy defense, so the match-up between Cabrini's Anthony DiNenno and Dickinson's Carter Moore – who will both be in the running for first team All-American FOGO honors this spring – will be critical.
Either way, it will be a challenging week for the Cavaliers.
"They are just so finely tuned," said Colfer of Dickinson. "I'm always impressed with them when we play them and watching them throughout the year getting ready to play them in the tournament. They are just one of those teams that plays very clean lacrosse. It's tough to find ways to beat them."