By Jim Wrobel
Special to GoHolyCross.com
The Holy Cross men's lacrosse team returns 26 letterwinners, with eight of 10 starters and nine of its top 10 point producers. Holy Cross (3-12 overall, 0-6 Patriot League in 2009) also returns the majority of its defense and welcomes nine talented freshmen. With a group of upperclassmen that have a wealth of game experience, a talented group of underclassmen and the opening of a brand new field, there is a lot to be excited about for the 2010 Holy Cross men's lacrosse season.
The Crusaders return eight starters from last season but also welcome the return of senior captain Edison Parzanese (Edgartown, Mass.) who missed all but three games last season due to injury. Parzanese, who has been one of the strongest and most dynamic offensive players at Holy Cross in recent years, will look to have a big senior season.
Adding to the anticipation of the start of the 2010 season is the opening of Holy Cross Field. The new field is a synthetic turf facility which is the home of both Crusader lacrosse teams. The all-weather, state-of-the-art field - complete with lights, a lacrosse specific scoreboard, a press box and bleachers - is a field that everyone in the program is very excited about. "Everyone is really looking forward to playing regular season games on the new field," said sixth-year head coach Adam Pascal. "We had a great fall season on the field. The new surface, the lights and the sound system are all great. It is one of the best venues in the league and it has a great area for the fans. It was awesome to see the commitment from the college and the alums to give us this facility which really adds to what we have to offer to future student athletes."
Pascal loves the atmosphere that new field has created around his program. "With some teams playing in football stadiums, we have a more small college type home field where fans can see the game up close and give us a nice home advantage," said Pascal. "I think the view of Worcester is the best from the field. Also the surface is a lot better to play on then the traditional astro turf. The field is good for recruiting in that it is very attractive to prospective student-athletes."
The senior class of Tim Barrar (West Chester, Pa.), Kevin Connolly (Concord, Mass.), Kenny Minor (South Hadley, Mass.), Mike Nagle (Timonium, Md.), Parzanese, John Rapport (Wyckoff, N.J.), Chris Smirti (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.) and Connor Sweeney (South Salem, N.Y.) will be a key factor in the success of the team. "Our eight seniors are very important to our team," said Pascal. "Five years ago they all came from successful high school programs. I told them they would get a chance to get this program going in the right direction and they have done exactly that. Having these guys around also really helps the younger guys step up."
The Holy Cross offense is expected to be strong this season with its top five goal scorers coming back from last season. "We return a lot of ‘fire power' but we also have a lot of competition for offensive positions," said Pascal. "For the first time here we are having strong competitions in practice."
A big strength of the team will be its defense as Holy Cross returns the majority of its defensive unit. "Last year at Bryant for the last game of the season for both teams, Zack Greer was four points away from the setting the all-time NCAA scoring record and the defense led by Barrar held him to one goal and two assists for three points, so he didn't set the record on us," said Pascal "I know the defense was happy about that. We are going to have to lean on those guys on the defense this year as we expect a lot from them."
Pascal is very happy with the attitude of the team which led to a productive fall season. "The team has taken on the personality of our seniors which has brought a great work ethic to the players," said Pascal. "What I took from the fall season is that we have a lot of talent and there will be a lot of competition for playing time. We won our scrimmages and the players got confidence and everyone was in great shape."
As always Pascal uses practice to determine who will see playing time in games. He sees the depth of the team and the competitions in practice as two other strengths. "When you can only play a certain amount of people on the field at the same time during a game you make the decision to who is going to play based on performances in practice," said Pascal "When you bring in great freshmen that immediately generates competition. We have a lot of athletic players we just need to put them in roles that they can succeed in."
The Crusaders will look to captains Barrar, Minor and Parzanese for strong leadership. "All three players are different," said Pascal. "Parzanese is a very focused leader, Barrar leads by example and Minor has a good combination of leadership. It is great that they are three different types of leaders. They were voted captains by their teammates so we expect to take their confidence and spread it out through the team."
The nine juniors of Douglas Broussard (Floral Park, N.Y.), Brandon DeLisio (Woodstock, N.Y.), Colin Flood (Bay Shore, N.Y.), Conor McKenna (Summit, N.J.), Matt Moran (West Henrietta, N.Y.), Matt Petri (Morristown, N.J.), Anthony Quinn (Port Washington, N.Y.), Justin Rowley (Liverpool, N.Y.) and Eamon Troy (Summit, N.J.) will be looking to become leaders. "Our junior class is very good," said Pascal. "They give us a lot of depth and there are a lot of players who have seen a ton of game action. We expect this class to have a big season."
Sophomores Matt Boylan (Kings Park, N.Y.), Ricky DeCicco (Manhasset, N.Y.), Nick Doyle (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.), Brent Ferraro (Islip, N.Y.), A.J. Guarente (Gaithersburg, Md.), David Henry (Davidsonville, Md.), Tom Hines (Manchester, Mass.), Colin McGeehin (Newtown Square, Pa.), Andrew Morici (Manhasset, N.Y.), Greg Peterson (West Hartford, Conn.) and Nick Rabiecki (Maplewood, N.J.) will look to continue to contribute to the team. "Last season, the sophomores got good experience in seeing what needed to be done in practice to get on the field in games," said Pascal. "This class is very tight knit and I would expect them to compete and contribute in games."
Pascal is very excited about the freshman class of Jack Curran (Verona, N.J.), Ian Garrahy (East Greenwich, R.I.), Myles Gillespie (Rye, N.Y.), John Hannan (Manhasset, N.Y.), James Kennedy (Summit, N.J.), Tim Pond (Port Washington, N.Y.), Daniel Schmader (Radnor, Pa.), Kip Stillman (Guilderland, N.Y.) and Matt Ward (Massapequa, N.Y.). "These nine freshmen know that if they have good practices they will see the field during games and I expect to get contributions from them this season," said Pascal.
With the addition of some new playing formations, Pascal has been stressing in practice the need for the team to be more vocal. "We need to have better communication on the field," said Pascal. "Especially when we are putting in new defensive and offensive formations the players need to know where their teammates are. At the start of the season we really need more talking on the field."
The Crusaders return a strong group at attack led by Parzanese. He has the most points with 94 and assists with 55 of any current Crusader. As a freshman and sophomore he led the team in both points and assists, and despite only playing three games as a junior he ranked fifth on the team with 13 points and eight goals, while he was fourth in assists with five. "Edison has an awesome work ethic and we expect him to have a big senior season," said Pascal.
McGeehin is coming off an outstanding freshman season in which he led the team in points with 28 and in goals with 21, while he ranked second on the team in assists with seven. He was named Patriot League Rookie of the Week twice, earned New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Co-Player of the Week honors and won the team's Joseph M. Murphy III Rookie of the Year award. "Colin is a very good shooter," said Pascal. "An emphasis this season will be to generate shots for him. We want to get him the ball a lot."
Smirti, who has the most goals of any current Crusader with 47, ranked second on the team with 18 goals and 21 points last season. "Chris has the ability to find a way to score a lot of goals," said Pascal. "He is very important to our success on offense." Flood is another key player at attack as he ranked fourth on the team with eight goals and was fifth with four assists last season. "Colin is one of the toughest players I have ever coached," said Pascal. "His toughness leads to goals."
DeCicco will be looking to contribute to the offense. "Ricky had a great fall season," said Pascal. "If he gets knocked down he gets right up." Kennedy is expected to contribute right away and was very impressive at the fall scrimmages. "During the fall he played on man-up situations," said Pascal. "We expect him to compete right away and contribute as a freshman."
The Crusaders return a lot of depth in the offensive midfield led by Minor and McKenna. Minor, who was named the team's 2009 Offensive Player of the Year, had a career-best 15 goals and a career-best six assists for a career-best 21 points last season. He was tied for second on the team in points, while he was third in goals and assists. "Minor has been a big player for us for four years here," said Pascal. "He started off as a defensive midfielder but has become one of our top offensive players."
McKenna, who led the team with a career-best 11 assists and was fourth with a career-best 14 points last season, is expected to continue to be a strong set up man. "Conor has matured as a lacrosse player and is a go to guy for us," said Pascal. "He is also a key player for us in man-down situations."
Moran, who has 10 goals and seven assists for 17 career points, has moved from attack to midfield. "In the midfield he can control the tempo of the game," said Pascal. "We think he can really help us in this new position."
Nagle, who has spent time between attack and midfield, has really impressed Pascal since he arrived on campus four years ago. "Mike has probably made the biggest improvements of any one on the team during his four seasons here," said Pascal. "He has spent a lot of time in the weight room. He is a great leader and a great kid. We are looking for a big season from him."
Rabiecki and Morici are coming off solid freshman seasons and will look to continue to contribute on the field. "Both these players had great freshman years," said Pascal. "Nick is very athletic and we expect him to get even better. Andrew really came on at the end of the season. He has a great ability to dodge and has very good hands."
Rowley is expected to contribute in the offensive midfield this season. "Justin had a great fall season," said Pascal. "He is a tough player and a good finisher." Pascal has also been impressed with Hines. "Tom is playing the best lacrosse since he got here," said Pascal. Gillespie, Hannan and Pond will be looking to have strong freshman seasons. "Myles has great goal scoring ability," said Pascal. "He is a good dodger and he can really drive to the goal. John is a really confident and athletic player. When I was recruiting Tim I noticed his uniform was always dirty and he was always around the net meaning he was working really hard. He will also take faceoffs for us this season."
In the defensive midfield, Petri and Troy are expected to be major contributors. "We are expecting Matt and Eamon to be big for us and lead the defensive midfield," said Pascal. Ferraro has been moved from offense to defense. "Brent is really fast, athletic and quick," said Pascal. Freshmen Stillman and Curran will look to have solid rookie seasons. "Kip has great stick skills and Jack who we also moved him from offense to defense is a very physical player," said Pascal.
Defense will be a major strength for the Crusaders led by Barrar, who has played 40 career games with 29 starts. "Tim is our shut down guy and he is a great leader," said Pascal. "We put him on the opponent's best offensive player."
Along with Barrar, Rapport is expected to have a strong senior season. He has played 42 career games with 31 starts. "John has great hands and has great anticipation as he is very good in getting the ball to our offensive side of the field," said Pascal. Connolly is a senior leader. "Kevin is a great kid to have on the team," said Pascal. "He comes out every day and gives it his all which is great for the underclassmen to see."
Broussard has started in every single game during his career and is a key to the success of the defense. "Douglas leads by example and fires up the team," said Pascal. Quinn and Henry are also major factors on defense. "Anthony keeps getting better and is important to our defense," said Pascal. "David is one of the most physical players on the team." Doyle, Peterson, who was named the team's 2009 Most Improved Player, and Schmader will also contribute to the defense. "Nick is a great teammate and is great in the weight room," said Pascal. "Greg intercepts a lot of passes and will play man-down for us. Daniel is a big physical player that will help us."
Ward, who Pascal describes as "very fast," is expected to be strong as a long stick midfielder this season. Guarente, who was the team's main faceoff man last season as a freshman, is expected to be a major factor on faceoffs. "A.J. got better as last season went on and we expect him to win a lot of faceoffs this season," said Pascal. "He is also in charge of our Big Brother program so that shows what type of character he has." Pond will also take faceoffs this season as well.
Sweeney, who will represent Ireland in the 2010 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Men's World Championship in Manchester, England in July, will be the starting goalie for the Crusaders this season. "Connor has been waiting three years behind three-year starter Jimmy Harrison," said Pascal. "He is really excited for the opportunity to be the starter this season. He wins player of the week in practice a lot. He is also a good leader." DeLisio and Garrahy will also look to contribute in goal.
The Crusaders will once again play a tough schedule. "We play a lot of Ivy League teams and also being in the Patriot League our schedule is always very challenging," said Pascal. Holy Cross will start the season with three straight road games with St. John's (Feb. 20), Yale (Feb. 27) and Marist (March 2). The Crusaders' first home game will be versus Harvard (March 6), while they will then play at Dartmouth (March 9). After the Patriot League season opener at home versus Colgate (March 13), Holy Cross will meet Hartford (March 17), defending Patriot League Tournament champion Navy (March 20) and Lehigh (March 27) all on the road.
The Crusaders will then play five consecutive home games as they will take on Bucknell (April 3), Vermont (April 6), Lafayette (April 10), Quinnipiac (April 17) and Bryant (April 20). Holy Cross will conclude the regular season at Army (April 24).
The Patriot League Tournament will take place on April 30 and May 2, on the campus of the regular season champion. The top four teams in the final regular season standings will qualify for the tournament.