Two-time defending North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Champion Morrisville State College men’s lacrosse will open the 2017 schedule Wednesday afternoon, hosting SUNY Geneseo in non-conference action, on Drake Field on the Morrisville State campus. Face-off is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
Eighth-year head coach and reigning NEAC Coach of the Year, Jason Longo, returns to guide Morrisville State into yet another exciting season after finishing its second straight undefeated conference slate, and 22-1 league compilation over the past three years.
The Mustangs, who have registered an overall record of 37-13 the past three seasons, will have no small feat ahead of them for the upcoming season, however, as new faces will need to fill some pretty big voids left by graduation last spring.
Morrisville State returns three of their top five leading scorers, though, including senior captain Kyle Shannon (Stanhope, N.J.) and all-conference selections, Nick Geswaldo (Lafayette) and Logan Peters (Yorktown Heights).
The three versatile offensive threats combined for 82 goals and 37 assists and will again look to lead the high-powered attacking unit, that a year ago averaged 23.1 points per game.
Morrisville State will have a new offensive look in 2017, surrounding strong sticks from the returning class with firepower and speed in its newcomers this season. According to Longo, “We have a strong group of players competing for a starting position on the attack line, and look forward to seeing what they can contribute to the team’s success this season.”
All-conference selection Noah Greger (Danbury, Conn.) will return alongside returners Trevor Jones (Lafayette) and Brendan Boles (Goshen) to the defensive unit, who in keeping theme with the rest of the Mustangs, will have a new look according to Longo as they enter 2017.
“Our defensive unit is playing really well, allowing us to implement multiple systems we can throw at our opponents this season,” said Longo.
One of the biggest challenges that lie ahead of the Mustangs in 2017 is having to find the replacement for three-time All-Conference and two-time Defensive Player of the Year Chris Fiore (Staten Island) in net. Currently, there is a three-way battle for the starting position, one that Longo remains positive about.
“At this point, we are really liking what we see from our competing goalies, especially from returning senior Tyler Catalfano (Rochester), junior Dan Sherlock (Tully) and freshman Nick Martino (Tully).”
The Mustangs defensive unit allowed a mere 8.34 goals against average just a year ago, allowing only three teams to get past them throughout the season.
“We have the drive and determination to bring our program to new heights,” said Longo of the 2017 squad. “We are focused on what we can control, and have big goals as a team.”
“As with any other team opening the season, we want to be able to compete for the conference title (a third time) and be selected for the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament,” he continued. “But it’s going to take a lot to reach these goals, including learning as much as we can from our non-conference opponents to prepare us for the NEAC schedule.”
“If we push ourselves during conditioning and training, learn our new system, dial our sticks in, and play together as a unit then our goals will be accomplished and we will see ourselves where we want to be at the end of the year.”
Taking a new approach to strategy this season, Longo has also made some arrangements in his coaching staff, in an attempt to maximize the team’s playing ability collectively.
Fourth-year assistant Tim Barth will work with the defensive unit, while Tyler Gale will concentrate on goalie play, face-off and wing play. Longo, who played attack at Onondaga Community College and LeMoyne, will again be at the forefront of the offensive unit.
“We purposely schedule tough non-conference teams, to better prepare us for when it truly matters,” said Longo about the season opener that features SUNY Geneseo, a team that took the opener just a year ago down to the final two minutes of the fourth quarter for the 12-11 decision in favor of the Mustangs.
Morrisville State will again face a State University of New York Athletic Conference opponent Saturday, heading down the road to SUNY Oneonta, before facing the SUNY Oswego Lakers on the 11th.
All three will prepare the Mustangs for a rematch with preseason ranked 18th by USLacrosse Magazine, SUNY Cortland, on the 21st.
Morrisville State will wrap up March non-conference play with a home bout with Kings College on the 23rd, followed by a visit to the North Country, to SUNY Potsdam.
The Mustangs will open the 2017 conference tilt Saturday, April 1 on their home turf against Medaille College, kicking off the conference schedule that will see NEAC semifinalist Bryn Athyn roll into town on the fifth.
Morrisville State will hit the road for two straight, Wells on the7th and Cobleskill on the 12th, before returning to Drake Field for the final two home conference contests against SUNY Poly on the 15th, and a Route 20 showdown with cross-town rival Cazenovia on the 19th.
Morrisville State will roll into rival territory on the 22nd in a rematch of last year’s championship final with Keuka College, before wrapping up the regular season on the 29th at Hilbert.
“We have a lot of surprises in store, and hope our fans enjoy the new style of lacrosse we will be bringing to the Mustang Valley in 2017,” said Longo.
The complete schedule, roster and live game links can be found on the college’s athletic website atwww.morrisvillestateathletics.com.