As the men’s lacrosse season nears its end, the team has won nine out of its last 10 games.
Senior face-off specialist, Blasé Mantineo, has led by example this year. Through 15 games, Mantineo is ranked #2 in the country in face-off percentage and top 15 in the country in ground balls.
This year’s Red Hawk team has been able to win the lion’s share of ground balls and face-offs this year, helping the Red Hawks to play consistently in the Skyline Conference. Assistant Coach Shane Carmody commented on why the team has played so well over the course of the season, in which the Red Hawks improved from an 0-6 record to 9-7.
“Ground balls [lead to] extra possessions,” said Carmody. “I think Blasé Mantineo is the best face-off [specialist] in the country and having [players] like Ryan Young, Nick Snow, Jon Rice and Aaron Loschiavo to pick up those ground balls has allowed our offense to get in a groove.”
The second player on the Red Hawks to be named player of the week is explosive forward, Matt “The Hammer” Haemmerle, who has amassed a gaudy 72 points through the first 15 games this year.
“We’ve gotten better at our riding and cleaned up our clearing,” said Carmody. “Turn-overs are a big thing. We [want] to make sure we’re not just throwing the ball away and value our possessions.”
The Red Hawks have had no problem gaining possession, something that Carmody attributes to winning face-offs and ground balls.
In conference play, this year’s team has shown a balance of experience in the midfield and on defense. Senior goalie Lucas Jones has held his opponents to five goals in five of his last seven Skyline Conference games started. Senior midfielder James Clarke has a goal in five of his last seven conference games. Also, freshman Jon Rice has stepped up big for the Red Hawks, registering a point in each of his last five conference games.
The 2017 Red Hawks have excelled in the finer details of lacrosse, like possession and discipline. Senior defender and co-captain Ryan Young was a part of three previous teams that won the Skyline Conference Tournament.
“Always, I think during the conference we find out who we are,” said Young. “We’ve gained a lot of confidence [playing conference games], where earlier in the season we were piecing our team chemistry together.”
Young said finding identity has helped the team to be successful this year.
“Every year we’re a different team. We have a different identity, and going through the conference, we’ve [been able to piece] it together, [and] this puts us in a good position going forward,” said Young.
After a 21-5 victory against Purchase College at home on Monday, April 26, the Red Hawks finished up with Skyline Conference play for the 2017 season. The Red Hawks had one final tune-up against Union College Wednesday, April 26, before the Skyline Conference tournament begins on April 29. They lost that game 11-12.
The Red Hawks will play the winner of the Farmingdale State/Kean game on Saturday, April 29. Farmingdale lost to Montclair State last week and will be itching to play against their conference rivals again.
“With lacrosse [not having] much of a professional market, [seniors] have to know that this is the year,” said Carmody. “Our team is starting to realize when everyone’s on the same page, we can make a run in May and make some noise in the [NCAA] tournament.”