Sports

Gural ’16 kickstarts fast-paced offense for men’s lacrosse

Senior leads No. 3 Bears over top-ranked Yale, powers offense with faceoff success

By
Staff Writer
Friday, April 22, 2016

Will Gural ’16 has been a key offensive weapon for the Bears, recording two goals and two assists in an upset win against then-top-ranked Yale.

In 2013 and 2014, Will Gural’s ’16 first two seasons at Brown, the men’s lacrosse team had two middle-of-the-pack, 8-6 seasons. Then Gural took over as the team’s face-off man.

The difference has not been hard to see. In Gural’s first full year on the job, the Bears went 12-5, with Gural converting almost 60 percent of the face-offs he saw. This year, they’re 11-1, ranked third nationally. Gural has been even better — his face-off percentage is up from just under 60 percent to almost 70 percent. He has added four goals and five assists since appearing in only eight games his sophomore season and has become integral in the Bears’ attack.

The Bears defeated then-top ranked Yale in an upset victory Saturday, notching their first win over the Elis since 2009. Gural was a central piece in the win, recording two goals and two assists, as well as 19 out of 27 successful face-offs. He also scooped 11 ground balls, leading the team.

For the oft-unsung contributions of a successful face-off man to the Bears’ offense, as well as his two goals and two assists against Yale, Gural has been named The Herald’s Athlete of the Week.

Herald: First off, can you tell me about your background in lacrosse?

Gural: I’m from Philadelphia; I played at Haverford High School growing up. I guess I’ve been playing since about first grade, so I’ve been playing for a while. Then obviously, four years here at Brown — I’d say it’s the best team I’ve ever been on, which says a lot, because I’ve played for some pretty great teams in the past. It’s been a lot of fun to be playing here, and being on the best Brown team in recent history is pretty cool as well.

How did you become a face-off guy?

I was just a regular midfielder up until about 10th grade. And then at my high school, I think we had 12 senior Division I commits in the grade above me when I was a junior, so I started coming in early and working with my coach on face-offs, and just kind of rode that wave, and it became something that I started to get pretty good at. Obviously I got recruited for it, kept working at it, so it worked out well. I would just say, it’s one of those positions where a lot of it is technique, and getting enough reps and enough practice. So, because I saw what was an opportunity for me to get on the field, I started doing it, and then I enjoyed it, and it worked out for me.

You’re 11-1 with the postseason coming up. What have you thought of the season?

It’s a great season. It kind of went as we expected — we knew we had a good team coming into this year. We opened with a scrimmage against Syracuse, we’d only had four practices, and we played them really close. They’re obviously a great team, so we knew that we had something special after seeing that result, but it’s awesome to be 11-1. Obviously the loss to Bryant was unfortunate, but you learn a lot from a loss, and it’s going to help us correct some things that we might have needed corrected for the postseason. But now we finish out Ivy League play and then have a big game against UVA down in Georgia. It’s the same mentality in all these games: taking it one game at a time, trying not to overlook anyone and making sure we come out of this stretch prepared for the postseason.

What’s the team’s mindset? How do you guys feel?

We feel good. Coming off of Providence, it was a little sloppier than we would have liked, but the energy was there. It was a good team effort. A lot of guys stepped up and made plays when we needed to make plays. The mindset is just on to the next one, prepare for Cornell — how can we get a win at Cornell? — and go from there. They’re a good team, traditionally a really good program, and you can never count anyone in the Ivies out. We’re expecting a good game from them.

Cornell and Dartmouth coming up — what kind of games do you expect from those two?

We expect the same type of games we’ve seen all season. A lot of teams try and game plan for us, because we have a pretty unique style. We have a fast play, we really like to push it in transition, so we’re just going to continue to do what we do no matter who the opponent is. That’s what it comes down to: playing our style, executing our game plan and making plays.

You’re a senior; this is your last push with the team. Tell me about your four-year career at Brown.

It hasn’t always been like this at Brown. My first two years here, we had 8-6 seasons, so just above average. Last year was the first year we took the talent that we had and really made something of it, getting an Ivy League championship and making it to the tournament. This year, it’s really about being the best team in the Ivy League, having nothing up for interpretation. It’s been a roller coaster; I think it’s helped our team, though. We’ve been in the position where we haven’t always been a traditionally great program. We’ve been good but not a national powerhouse, so to have experienced both sides of it, we know what it’s like to lose games, we know how that feels. We really embraced the fact that we have a great program this year, and we’re going to do whatever it takes to win it all.