Short Documentary on the 2012 Denver Outlaws Training camp. The first in depth look into a Major League Lacrosse organization.
Monthly Archives: June 2012
NCAA Lacrosse: Northwestern Women’s Lacrosse Faces Loss Of Top Attacker, Goalie In Bid To Defend National Lacrosse Championship In 2013
2012 Preseason Rank: 1 2012 Final Regular-Season Rank: 1 Key Returnees: Erin Fitzgerald (56g, 9a), Casey Bocklet (13g, 22a), Taylor Thornton (33g, 58gb, 28ct, 71dc), Alyssa Leonard (90dc). Key Losses: Shannon Smith (66g, 28a), Lacey Vigmostad (15g, 41gb, 29ct), Alex Frank (42gb, 36ct), Brianne LoManto (20gb, .456 sv%)
- Who replaces Shannon Smith on the crease? In the 2012 championship game, Bocklet ran interference for Smith when the latter was being tightly face-guarded and acquitted herself well. She will be the Wildcats’ top returning feeder with 22 assists, even though she only started four games. Bocklet is the youngest of four in a lax-y family – brothers Mike (Fairfield), Matt (Johns Hopkins) and Chris (Virginia) all played Division I lacrosse.
- Who replaces three-year starter LoManto in the cage? Bridget Bianco will likely become the Wildcats’ starting keeper. She played sparingly as a freshman but had an excellent high school career with New Jersey powerhouse program Moorestown, where her career goals against average was 4.8. Quakers coach Deanna Knobloch called her “the best high school goalie I’ve ever seen.”
- Where is Taylor Thornton most needed? Thornton was the 2011 IWLCA Defender of the Year, but in 2012, head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller asked her to pump up her offensive game. She more than doubled her points total from 15 to 34. But with the graduation of Vigmostad and Frank, and a new keeper adjusting to her starting role, shuffling the All-American back to D might be an enticing option.
NCAA Lacrosse: Notre Dame Men’s Lacrosse Looks To Improve Offense, Maintain Defensive Dominance To Compete For National Championship In 2013
2012 Final Regular-Season Rank: 5 2012 Preseason Rank: 9 Key Returnees: Jim Marlatt (19g, 12a), Westy Hopkins (18g, 7a), Conor Doyle (13g, 7a), Ryan Foley (13g, 8a), Matt Miller (30gb, 18ct), John Kemp (6.27 GAA, 63.7%) Key Losses: Sean Rogers (22g, 8a), Max Pfeifer (11g, 9a), Eric Keppeler (7g, 1a), Kevin Randall (20gb, 12ct)
- Which Notre Dame offense will show up more often? The efficient, balanced one? Or the one that shot 25 percent? The Fighting Irish offense peaked in the early rounds of the NCAA tournament, scoring an average of 12.5 goals and shooting 43.1 percent against Yale and Virginia. But they shot 5-for-28 against Loyola in the semifinals, reverting to old form in the biggest game of the season. The Irish were shooting 25.3 percent entering the postseason, which ranked among the last-10 in Division I men’s lacrosse. And in the last four postseason elimination games, the Irish have scored 18 combined goals. Notre Dame’s depth and willingness to run three midfield lines helped later in the year, and it returns four of their six 20-point scorers. They need to avoid settling for early looks, and cycle for the best look.
- Who will be the go-to scorer without Sean Rogers? “Mr. Big Shot” didn’t post gaudy numbers, scoring a team-leading 22 goals, but the lefty scored three straight game-winners early in the year, and put away the decisive goal in three others. Rogers seemingly always made the right decision with the ball in his stick, and he was the offensive captain on the field. When Rogers got good looks at the cage, it meant the collective group was clicking. Rising sophomore Conor Doyle and rising junior Westy Hopkins should be the focal point of the attack, while Jim Marlatt gets more runs with the midfield.
- Can the Notre Dame defense keep it up? There’s almost certainly no end in sight, and defensive coordinator Gerry Byrne directs the most dominant and consistent unit in the country. First-team All-American defenseman Kevin Randall and underrated long-stick midfielder Bobby Smith graduate, but the other component parts return to the nation’s top-ranked unit, including first-team All-American goalie John Kemp. At some point, will an offense figure out how to dissect Notre Dame’s defense? There’s not really a blueprint: The Irish have surrendered double-digit goals only eight times in the last five seasons — four of which came in 2010 against a banged-up group. But Big East teams and fixtures on Notre Dame’s schedule are diligently working to devise a scheme to break down the vaunted unit.
NCAA Lacrosse: Denver Men’s Lacrosse Must Replace Top Two Attackers, Reverse “One-Goal Trend” To Compete For Championship In 2013
2012 Final Regular-Season Rank: 13 2012 Preseason Rank: 5 Key Returnees: Jeremy Noble (25g, 21a), Eric Law (26g, 16a), Wes Berg (26g, 11a), Cam Flint (16g, 7a), Chase Carraro (14g, 6a) Key Losses: Eight seniors. Mark Matthews (47g, 17a), Alex Demopolous (20g, 27a), Patrick Rogers (3g, 5a, 33gb)
- Can the Pioneers reverse their one-goal trend?Denver went 1-6 in one-goal games in 2012, including its 10-9 defeat to Loyola in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals. Some have suggested — perhaps slightly tongue-in-cheek — that Denver and Loyola might have met in the national championship if they were paired on opposite sides of the bracket. That speaks to Denver’s overall strength. Usually these trends reverse, or normalize, over time. Unless there’s something endemic plaguing the program, and there’s no reason to believe that’s the case here: Denver didn’t play tight.
- Who steps into Mark Matthews’ shoes? The “Master of the Toe Drag” departs Denver as the school’s all-time leader in points and goals. He attracted a swarm of defensive attention every time he stepped on the field, and seemingly always made something happen when the ball was in his stick. The Pioneers, led by offensive coordinator Matt Brown, won’t have difficulty scoring in 2012. They just have to figure out where the scoring will come from. Freshman Wes Berg looks like the next Matthews, though he’s a smaller, right-handed version. Jeremy Noble, Eric Law, Cam Flint and Chase Carraro are very dangerous.
- Who’s the starting goalie: Ryan LaPlante or Jamie Faus? It’s a good “problem” to have, but one that coach Bill Tierney will have to handle delicately, assuming Faus is healthy. Faus, also the starter in 2011, tore his Achilles against Notre Dame in the sixth game of the season. LaPlante was never supposed to play last year — he was at home in Colorado when Faus got hurt, then flew out to New York to face Cornell on short notice — but he started 10 games and posted a .535 save percentage. The guess here? Faus is the guy, while LaPlante takes a redshirt.
MCLA Men’s Lacrosse: Lacrosse Magazine Names MCLA Div I All-Americans; BYU Attacker Ted Ferrin Is “Player Of The Year”, Cal Poly Men’s Lacrosse Marc Lea Is “Coach Of The Year”
Attack – Ted Ferrin, Senior – Brigham Young Sometimes the math does the weeding out process. Ferrin led the nation in goals (81), assists (51) and points (132), averaging a stunning 6.0 points per outing (good for second in the country). Throw in the fact that he did it against one of the toughest schedules in the association while being a marked man after leading the Cougars to a national title in 2011, and Ferrin made this pick easy.
Attack – Scott Heberer, Senior – Cal Poly The Mustangs had plenty of offensive talent stockpiled for their run to the No. 1 seed in the tournament and their 21-2 record, but Heberer was the glue that held the whole thing together. The numbers were there – 42 goals and 37 assists for a team-best 79 points – but just the threat of what he could do opened the door for the likes of Matt Graupmann, Olivier Schmied and Brian Kovary. Although Poly managed to survive a couple of games this year without Heberer, the Mustangs wouldn’t have come close to their heights without him.
Attack – Tyler Novotny, Junior –Pittsburgh He had a decent year in 2011 after transitioning from NCAA Division I St. John’s with 36 goals and 10 assists, but Novotny turned it up a notch this spring. He finished with 67 markers and 17 dimes, and more importantly, he guided the Panthers to a 12-3 mark and their first-ever trip to the MCLA national tournament. The most important game for Pitt on its way to the tourney was the upset of Buffalo – the Bulls only had one loss during the regular season – and Novotny dropped a sixer along with an assist.
Midfield – Alex Hultgren, Senior –Buffalo The Bulls were a three-headed offensive monster (with Kurt Stavdal and Tom Sudek), and Hultgren provided the most complete package out of the midfield. He was second in goals with 25 (behind Stavdal) and tied for the lead in assists (with Sudek) at 17. Buffalo would have been severely hamstrung with any of these three off the roster, but there’s no way the Bulls would have come close to their 14-2 season or PCLL sweep without Hultgren.
Midfield – C.J. Jacobs, Junior – UC Santa Barbara The credit for much of the Gauchos’ national resurgence will go to the prodigal return of coach Mike Allan, and that’s not unreasonable, but a lot of it has to do with the maturation of Jacobs. His numbers don’t blow your mind (21g, 8a), but if you put Jacobs’ accomplishments in the context of the methodical Santa Barbara offense (which produced a 13-4 record), he’s second in goals and third in assists out of the midfield. He also hit those marks while consistently getting a pole.
Midfield – Spencer Robertson, Senior –Oregon The Ducks weren’t dripping with talent like they have been in year’s past, but the evolution of Robertson was a vital reason Oregon was able to roll to the PNCLL auto bid. Primarily a scorer out of the midfield last year (37g, 9a), Robertson expanded his game. He still kept his nose for the net (team-leading 40 goals), but also became a gifted playmaker (team-high 32 helpers). Without the improvement in his game, the Ducks are nowhere near what they were in 2012.
Faceoff Specialist – Charlie Pantiakos, Freshman– Clemson Although they flamed out in the SELC tournament, this year was a big one for the Tigers as they not only put together a national schedule, but had the talent to beat the likes of Florida State, Colorado and New Hampshire. Pantiakos was the quiet key to that. At 6-foot-6 and 205 pounds, Pantiakos isn’t built like your prototypical FOGO, but the numbers – 200-for-265; 75.5% -don’t lie. Pantiakos also chipped in with a pair of goals and three assists in 16 games.
Long-stick Middie – Matt Walrath, Senior –Chapman Walrath, who has spent the last three years dominating between the lines for the Panthers after transferring from NCAA Division III Stevens (N.J.), was closer to being Lacrosse Magazine‘s Preseason Player of the Year than you’d probably guess (ASU Dylan Westfall was given the honor). From the moment he showed up in Orange County – including the national semifinals in 2010 when he brought the Denver crowd to its feet with the rare LSM trifecta of goal-faceoff-win-goal in the span of about 10 seconds – he has owned the position. He put a cap on it with 12-goal, three-assist campaign along with a mind-numbing 158 ground balls.
Defense – Ian Anderson, Senior – Arizona State The defense just needs to hold on until the offense matures. That was the mindset for the Sun Devils this spring, and thanks to Anderson, they were able to do just that. Leading a unit that held opponents under double-digits for the first seven games of the season, Anderson gave his team some breathing room to set up their eventual run to the semifinals. The Devils have had an epic three-year run since 2010 and Anderson has been as big a reason as anyone for that success.
Defense – Wes Binder, Senior – Michigan State The rugged Spartan pole gets better every season, and this year was certainly his finest as he led Michigan State to cusp of one of the biggest upsets in tournament history before losing to top seed Cal Poly in the quarterfinals, 10-9. Binder does well getting the ball off the turf (team-leading 52 ground balls), but can also use his length (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) to give the top attackman in the country very little room to breathe.
Defense – Hayden Porter, Junior – Colorado State How do you quantify what a defenseman is able to accomplish? With Porter, it’s pretty easy: 3.75. That’s the amount of goals the Rams gave up on average in the four tournament games in Greenville even though their last two contests came against prolific offenses from BYU and Cal Poly. All of the CSU poles are solid, but Porter is undoubtedly the top dog (and he finished second in ground balls with 46), and could shut down any type of offensive player the MCLA has to offer.
Goalie – Brad Macnee, Junior – Colorado This spot has been the unquestioned dominion of Arizona State’s Dylan Westfall, but Macnee has moved to the fore this season. The Buffs record doesn’t look so hot – they finished at 7-8 – but they were only that good because of Macnee’s ability to thwart even the most prolific offenses. In six of CU’s eight losses, he held the opponent to under 10 goals, and his numbers for the season (62.4 save percentage; 11.2 saves per game) stack up with anyone in the country. Macnee’s efforts in the biggest games – 12 saves in a 5-4 win over ASU and 18 stops in the 11-9 triumph against BYU (the game that got the Buffs in the MCLA tourney) make him the pick here.
Player of the Year – Ted Ferrin, Brigham Young
If your memory is long enough, the rise of Ted Ferrin isn’t really a surprise. Back in 2007, when Ferrin was a pre-mission rookie, he dropped a four-spot in the national title game against Oregon, helping the Cougars win their third national championship. Ferrin’s second national championship last spring (when he scored three more in the finals) simply confirmed that the two years atrophying in Croatia on his “Mormon vacation” couldn’t slow him down.
Missing out on a third national championship certainly stings, especially with the tools he had around him, but the numbers he posted this spring against that level of competition will go down in program – and MCLA – history.
Coach of the Year – Marc Lea, Cal Poly
The Mustangs’ 21-2 record, No. 1 seed in the tournament and appearance in the MCLA championship game was a pretty fun ride. Those accomplishments were enough for Lea to take home the well-deserved MCLA-sponsored coach of the year kudos. He did one other thing that makes him my pick, as well.
He snapped a historical trend.
Cal Poly looks like a beast now, but the Mustangs have been lightweights. They’ve had decent seasons, won the WCLL a couple of times, and even had seven previous appearances in the MCLA tourney. Poly’s record in those visits: 1-7. Other than their 13-8 win over Florida State in ’06, the Mustangs have nearly played as many consolation contests as live tilts at nationals. All that changed this year with a run to the brink of the national championship, thanks to Lea.
Was it the coaching? The recruiting? Program culture? Scheduling? All of the above is the correct answer, and all are linked to Lea. He’ll be tasked again next year to fill some significant holes in the Mustangs line-up, but everything’s different now. Poly is no longer a lightweight, and they have a championship-caliber coach.
NCAA Lacrosse: Impact Of Western And Canadian Lacrosse Players Has Increased Number Of Men’s Teams Competing For National Championship
“…this post-Stanwick/Canadian box inspired two-man era, teams just don’t necessarily need a premier Rabil-like midfielder, or a Powell-like attackman to draw slides and generate offense. Now, it’s all picking, re-picking, screening and big-little games from behind…”
Obviously, the spread of lacrosse has made more quality players available for more teams. And it’s not just raw athletes still trying to learn the sport. Slick-sticked offensive studs like Baum, Loyola’s Mike Sawyer (Waxhaw, N.C.), Hopkins’ Lee Coppersmith (Boca Raton, Fla.), Virginia’s Rob Emery (San Francisco, Calif.), Cornell’s Roy Lang (Mill Valley, Calif.) and North Carolina’s Thomas Wood (Dallas), all made an impact this season. And coaches continued to outsource various offensive duties to Canadians with alarming regularity.
Not only is there more talent, particularly offensive talent, to go around for more programs. Offensive sets have become smarter and more efficient and not as reliant on unique kinds of players.
In the early parts of the century, scoring goals in the post-season meant having premier athletes who could always run by their guy. Because those types of players are rare and generally easily identifiable in high school, they usually end up playing for a couple programs with history or warm weather or both. That’s why the Tewaaraton winner was almost always an offensive stud who just led his team to the championship. Ned Crotty, Mike Leveille, Kyle Harrison, Mike Powell and Matt Ward all fit the mold.
So a team like Denver can put the rest of the country on notice with a heavy dose of box influenced pick-and-rolls. Or Maryland– who relied on those grinding two-man games that could make paint dry — reached the final despite not having much of a bonafide offensive star. Loyola won the title when its two best offensive players, Eric Lusby and Sawyer, were of the planted-feet, catch-and-shoot variety.
The media-friendly “parity” meme has been hashed and re-hashed. Usually there hasn’t been much to pin it on other than some early-season upsets or a rogue school making some playoff noise. Whether Loyola’s win was just be a right mix of lock-down defensive midfielders, veteran leadership, and some slingers on offense, or the ushering in of a new era remains to be seen.
But as the nation’s talent base grows and early recruiting makes it even harder to identify who the best kids are; and as offenses continue to find ways to score settled goals without “Rabil-esque” midfielders, winning will likely be even harder to contain to the upstate New York, ACC or Homewood sightlines.