Men’s lacrosse opened its season on Saturday at Colby. It was a hard fought game but the Ephs eventually lost 9-8 in double overtime.
The Mules started the game with a quick first goal and continued their offensive momentum. Colby scored another three goals to Williams’ one, putting the Ephs in a 4-1 hole through most of the first half. However, the Ephs did not count themselves out, rallying back with three goals of their own to enter the break with the game tied at 4-4.
In the second half Williams and Colby traded goals, and completed regulation with the score knotted, 8-8. Despite strong and aggressive efforts by both the Ephs and the Mules, the first overtime period ended scoreless. Late into second OT, Mule Drew Piekarski netted his third goal of the contest to end the game, 9-8.
Rookie David Hawley ’11 scored three goals for the Ephs in his collegiate lacrosse debut. Attack man Dixon Hargrove ’08 added two goals and two assists for the Ephs. Other goals were scored by Kevin Connolly ’09, Andy Camposeo ’08 and Tim White ’09. Goaltender Michael Gerbush ’09 had nine saves in the Ephs season opener.
The team wound up with a record of 8-6, 6-3 in the NESCAC last year, its best finish in three years. Additonally, last year was the first time in school history that the Ephs reached the NESCAC semifinals.
Last season the Ephs had historic wins against Amherst, Middlebury and Tufts. The Ephs overcame the Jeffs at Amherst for the first time in ten years. Along with their first win over Middlebury in 14 years, Williams also became the only team in the NESCAC to defeat Tufts in conference play.
The 2008 season looks promising for the team and for Head Coach George McCormack, who is in his fifth season. Four returning players received All-NESCAC honors last season and nine of the Ephs top 10 scorers from last spring return as well. The Ephs have plenty of senior leadership, as eight seniors will guide a team loaded with first-years and sophomores.
The Ephs’ senior leadership is most noticeable at the attack position with Michael Vrla ’08 and Hargrove. Both players were named First Team All-NESCAC last spring. Hargrove led the team in points with 41, recording a team-high 29 assists in the process. Vrla led the team in goals with 31 and was second only to Hargrove in total scoring with 35 points.
Complementing these two will be attack man White, who finished last season with 20 goals and ten assists of his own. Hawley, who scored three goals in Saturday’s game against Colby, should also be someone to watch this season.
The team’s mid-field will be led by co-captains Mike Lewen ’08 and Camposeo. Connolly, who had 15 points last spring, will also return this season. Ryan Powell ’09 will lead the mid-fielders on the defensive side of the ball along with Adam Benjamin ’10, Dylan Schultz ’11 and Jay Petricone ’11.
Defense for the Ephs will be led by co-captain Nick Fersen ’08 and Second Team All-NESCAC honoree Brian Morrissey ’09. Notable underclassmen include Andrew D’Ambrosio ’10, who played in 13 of the 14 games last season. Rob McDonald ’11 will also be fighting for a starting spot.
Anchoring the position in goal is returning starter and Second Team All-NESCAC player Gerbush, who had a .621 save percentage last season. Backing up Gerbush in goal is Stephen Vrla ’10, as well as rookies Henry Mills ’11 and Brian Malchoff ’11.
“I think we played an overall aggressive game but we made too many mistakes,” Hargrove said. “We are looking to improve upon executing our game plan. A lot of guys were pretty upset about the loss but it will serve as motivation for the rest of the season.”
The Ephs will look for their first victory of the season at Tufts on March 15.