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Men’s lacrosse to open season hosting Quinnipiac

Bears excited to debut with young squad against Bobcats in home opener Saturday

The men’s lacrosse team will aim to start the season off on the right foot with a contest against Quinnipiac University at home Saturday.

It will be the first game in a season full of competitive matchups for the Bears, including clashes against the defending national champions, Yale, No. 5 Cornell and No. 11 University of Virginia.

The Bears closed the 2018 season with an overall record of 6-9. The team also finished 3-3 in Ivy League play, earning the number three seed in the Ivy League Tournament before falling to Cornell 7-4 in the semifinals.

Bruno’s return to Stevenson-Pincince Field has been long anticipated. The team came back to campus early from winter break to run captain’s practices, and began official team practices Feb. 1. Though the Bears lost a strong group of seniors in the class of 2018, this year’s squad features a core group of 31 returning players, many of whom have multiple seasons of starting experience.

Beyond the returning upperclassmen, the team is also excited about its new additions to both the roster and coaching staff.

“We brought in a lot of great freshmen, and there’s going to be a bunch that see a lot of playing time this year,” said Phil Goss ’20. “We’re also adding two great new coaches to the two great ones we had before. We brought in Coach (John) Svec and Coach (Michael) Higgins, who’ve brought some new approaches to defense, goaltending and faceoffs, and we’re really excited about what they have to offer.”

Defensively, the team is anchored by Goss, who has been recognized as one of the top goalies in the nation since earning his first start for the Bears as a first-year in 2017. Goss earned First-Team All-Ivy honors last season after leading the Ivy League in saves with 197. He was also named an Inside Lacrosse Preseason Media Second-Team All-American this year.

Other names to look for defensively on this year’s squad include Alex Santangelo ’19, who was second on the team in caused turnovers last season, Michael Brown ’20, who led all field players in ground balls last year, and Jackson Caputo ’21, who saw limited action in his first year due to injury but is anticipated to have a big role this season. Jason Simaan ’20 and Matt McShea ’21 are expected to handle face-off duties for the Bears.

While the team will need players to fill the shoes of the five defensemen who graduated last year, Brown fans can expect to see the same dynamic offense of the 2018 team. Four of the five top goal-scorers from last year’s squad — Mike Panepinto ’19, Luke McCaleb ’20, Jackson Newsome ’19 and Carson Song ’19 — return this season. The former two will serve as co-captains for the team in its 2019 campaign.

“It’s an incredible honor to be elected captain by my teammates. The biggest thing I want to do is just lead them how they want to be led,” McCaleb said. “Our coach always says ‘on good teams coaches lead, on great teams players lead.’ … I think our seniors and some of our juniors have done a great job really instilling that into the team.”

The NCAA has instituted various rule changes for 2019, including the introduction of an 80-second shot clock, and allowing players to leave their feet when shooting around the crease. The Bears’ already fast-paced style of lacrosse looks to capitalize on these new rules.

“We traditionally play pretty fast. (Head Coach Mike Daly) came from Tufts and started a style of play there where it’s run-and-gun, getting up and down and taking great shots — kind of controlled chaos,” McCaleb said. “Being able to have that shot clock … and get a bunch of transition goals — that’ll really be great for us.”

Beyond playing fast, the focuses of this year’s squad include attention to detail, playing as a team and focusing on the present, McCaleb and Goss said.

“In college lacrosse, anyone can win on any given day, so it’s kind of about how good of a team you are,” Goss said. “We’re focused on playing together, playing as a unit. We say, ‘one team with one heartbeat.’”

With an experienced group of attackmen and middies, depth on defense and an All-American goalie, no bar seems to be too high for the Bears this season. For now, though, the team is focused on the present.

“Our biggest goal is just focusing on what’s right in front of us rather than looking too far down the road,” McCaleb said.

As the Bears open the season this Saturday, they will commence Ivy League play against Harvard March 16.



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