“…sophomore Alex Tice (Oakland, CA/St. Ignatius Prep) appeared in seven games last year and has worked hard in the offseason to improve. ..”
“…returning All-Liberty League sophomore Zach Beauchamp (Tempe, AZ/Brophy Prep)…”
For the Vassar men’s lacrosse team, playing in the fiercely competitive Liberty League has its pros and cons. The league features some of the finest programs in the country, which means competition is at a premium. The Brewers, which narrowly lost to Liberty League rival Hamilton 6-5 last year, are using that game as optimism for the 2009 campaign. Coming off an improved 4-11 season, Vassar will begin its 2009 season hosting Manhattanville on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at Weinberg Field. The Brewers lost to the Valiants 7-3 last year after beating them in 2006.
Head coach Joe Proud, now in his fourth season, along with his captains, seniors Jake Miller (Amherst, MA/Amherst Regional), Ross MacKenzie (Hewlett, NY/Lynbrook), and junior Paul Danaher (Syracuse, NY/Westhill), feel a positive change is on the immediate horizon.
“We want to get our first league win and build on that and hopefully it will be the tipping point,” said Danaher. Both Proud and Miller expressed a belief that the team could attain a .500 record, which would be a first for the program.
“We’re playing solid lacrosse on both sides of the ball,” said Proud. “This is the best that Vassar has ever played.”
The Brewers have lost two of their top three scorers in departed senior Tristan Jemiolo (15 goals, 11 assists, 26 points), and leading scorer Cody Scandore (25-14-39). However, the squad does retain the rest of its top eight producers from last season.
Junior Sean Murray (9-4-13, Wyckoff NJ/Deerfield Academy) is expected to start up front alongside sophomore Sam Thypin-Bermeo (11-7-18, Princeton, NJ/Hun School). Converted freshman midfielder Jack Gross (Yarmouth, ME/Yarmouth) will also feature in the attack for the Brewers.
In the midfield, Vassar will rely on the scoring of their top attacking middie, junior Nick Cardillo (17-9-26, Honeoye Falls, NY/McQuaid Jesuit). Cardillo was second on the team in scoring last season, and will be joined in the midfield by sophomores Sam Seymour (11-6-17, Winchester, MA/Winchester) and Ryan Hart (Smithtown, NY/Smithtown West), the team’s top returning face-off man. MacKenzie will line up as a defensive middle for the Brewers.
Miller and Danaher will anchor the Vassar defense, along with returning All-Liberty League sophomore Zach Beauchamp (Tempe, AZ/Brophy Prep). “With MacKenzie playing primarily as a defensive midfielder, we have good leadership on defense with all three captains contributing,” said Proud.
In The Cage
The goaltender battle will be heated, as two returning goalies will vie for time this season. Junior Ed Pappo (Malvern, PA/Conestoga) started 13 games in 2008, allowing 10.51 goals per game and compiling a 4-9-0 record. However, sophomore Alex Tice (Oakland, CA/St. Ignatius Prep) appeared in seven games last year and has worked hard in the offseason to improve. The captains expressed their confidence in both players’ ability to anchor the Brewer defense.
The team is also boosted by the introduction of seven freshmen to the squad, some of whom are expected to contribute right away. Gross is contending for a starting midfield job, and Jeremy Gottlieb (Smithtown, NY/Smithtown West), a former high school teammate of Hart’s, will compete for time on defense. Midfielder Matt Pearce (Alpharetta, GA/Alpharetta) is returning from injury but could also play a role, bringing his skill on face-offs to the table.
A New Home
The new field complex at Prentiss, which includes a state-of-the-art turf playing surface on Weinburg Field, has also been huge for the advancement of the lacrosse program. This will be the first full season of lacrosse at the new Prentiss, which also features Gordon Field, a grass surface, and the practice advantages have been immense.
“Two years back we went six games without practicing outdoors,” recalls Proud. Without having to wait for the snow to clear and for grass fields to dry, the team has already been training outside on the turf in preparation for their season opener.
Both players and coaches are ready for the 2009 lacrosse season to begin. “We’re going to be a good team this year,” said an excited Proud. “I don’t think I’ve been able to say that in the past, but I really believe it this year.”