Sports

Nationally ranked men’s lacrosse deploys fast-paced offense

After stellar 2015 season, Bruno prepares for another chance at Ivy, NCAA tournaments

By
Senior Staff Writer
Friday, February 26, 2016

Jack Kelly ’16 looks to make a pass. The senior goaltender was a Third Team All-American last season and will be a key piece for the Bears as they vie for another Ivy League title and NCAA tournament appearance.

After making it to the NCAA tournament last year for the first time since 2009, the men’s lacrosse team is looking to take another leap forward this spring. Expectations are certainly high for No. 9 Bruno, coming off an Ivy League regular season championship.

“We got a good taste of the Ivy league tournament and the NCAA tournament,” said Head Coach Lars Tiffany ’90. “Once you’ve been exposed to that, you don’t ever want to not be part of that again. It’s like we got invited to this great party — we want to go back to that party. We want to be part of that social scene.”

Bruno’s hopes of making it back to the end-of-year festivities got off to a good start last weekend, as it took down Quinnipiac handily by a final score of 20-7. The fast-paced offense that the team implemented last year under the direction of Assistant Coach Sean Kirwan was firing on all cylinders.

Last season, Bruno had the fifth-highest scoring offense in the nation. The attack was led by Dylan Molloy ’17, who was the top-ranked scorer in the nation, with 3.65 goals per game. Saturday, the junior picked up right where he left off, recording five goals in the season-opening win.

Also returning to the team’s offensive front are Henry Blynn ’16 and Kylor Bellistri ’16, the team’s second- and third-highest scorers last year, respectively. 

Even though the high-octane offense proved to be extremely effective in 2015, the Bears made it a priority over the offseason to improve, Tiffany said. The team spent a lot of time working on fitness and incorporated a new weightlifting program to get in the best possible shape.

“In order to play the fastest tempo in Division I lacrosse, our bodies need to be in top shape so we can continue to bury teams with our style in the fourth quarter,” Blynn said.

But the Bears were not only impressive on the offensive end last year. Bruno led the nation in ground balls per game thanks to the superb play of Alec Tulett ’17, who ranked 24th in the nation. Caused turnovers were another strong point for the team, with Larken Kemp ’17 coming in at fourth in the country. Kemp was selected as a second-team All-American for his efforts in last year’s campaign and has already been named to the Tewaaraton watch list this season, along with Molloy. The Tewaaraton award is college lacrosse’s equivalent to the Heisman trophy in college football.

In the net, Jack Kelly ’16 was one of the nation’s best goalies in 2015. Kelly ranked 14th in the country in save percentage and was selected as an honorable mention All-American. The senior will look to supplant his legacy this year as one of Brown’s all-time greats before he steps through the Van Wickle Gates in May.

Also graduating at the season’s end is face-off specialist Will Gural ’16, who posted the 12th-best draw percentage in the nation last year. Gural saved his best for the end of the season, when he won 16 of 20 face-offs in the Bears’ Ivy League tournament contest against Yale. He then bested the nation’s top face-off man in their NCAA tournament tilt against eventual champions Denver.

While the crop of retuning upperclassmen may be impressive, Tiffany pointed to the importance of some of the younger guys on the squad as well. He highlighted Jake Miller ’18, who blossomed into a legitimate offensive contributor toward the end of last season, and Alex Santangelo ’19, who got the start at defense last weekend against Quinnipiac.

With a strong Stony Brook team on the docket tomorrow, the Bears will look to continue to take advantage of their talented roster and keep things headed in a positive direction.

“I don’t want to speak too soon, but I believe that this team could make it further than any Brown team has gone in history if we stay focused and strive to improve every week,” Blynn said. “There are nothing but good things to come for this special group.”