The Susquehanna University Men's Lacrosse team is looking forward to continuing its efforts to establish itself as a national contender. After finishing the 2016 season with a school-record tying 12 victories and a fourth consecutive trip to the Landmark Conference Tournament, the River Hawks will look to build on the excitement and experience from last year.
The team enters the 2017 season with optimism as the program welcomes a strong group of newcomers, along with an experienced group of upperclassmen.
"I think the program is poised and ready to propel itself forward to contend at the conference and then national level," said head coach Stewart Moan who enters his 10th season at Susquehanna and 28th season overall. "Many young players with college minutes under their belts are ready to become major contributors, along with some new talented faces, eager to contribute and help the team achieve their goals."
The attack will be led by returning senior Chet McLaughlin (40 points/last season) who will move down from midfield, along with junior Alec Tzaneteas (40 pts) who was a 2nd Team All-Landmark Conference player last season and freshman Preston Ouellette.
McLaughlin and Tzaneteas combined for 52 goals and 80 points as the River Hawks set school records with 181 goals and 290 points in 2016. The duo also recorded nine of the 12 game-winning goals and had eight of the 18 man-up goals for the team.
The midfield will be deep with a host of talented and experienced players. Led by junior Andrew Porzio (28 points) and sophomores Erik Lanyi and Jake Smolokoff. Senior James Harabedian also returns and looks to contribute as well as sophomores Jack Donnelly, Jack DiGregorio and freshman, Kyle Watts. Defensively the midfield will be led by senior co-captain Stephen Fickett. He will be joined by sophomore Louis Pillari.
Susquehanna returns two top face-off men from last season. Fellow juniors Jake Purnell (.625%) and Pierce Mead (.595%) both had outstanding seasons and are continuing to improve. The River Hawks combined to win a school-record 63.2 percent of their face-offs last year.
Overall, the defense has a good mixture of youth and experience, led by senior Kai Benson, junior James Tsilionis, sophomore, Dan Murphy and will be supported by juniors Alex Weightman and John Vitti who will have opportunities to get quality minutes this year as well.
"I am excited about the returning defense," said Moan. "We have a good mix of players and after a great effort last year, I think they could be even better."
The defense limited opponents to a near record setting goals against average allowing just 7.11 goals per game.
The long pole midfield positions will be led by sophomore James Abramo and freshman, Jake Fox. Kevin Flatley, Doug Adams, and freshman, Erik Wilhelm are also developing quickly and looking to contribute.
The goalkeeping duties will be handled by sophomore Dylan Abplanalp who had a strong season last year, and was voted Landmark Conference Rookie of the Year after recording 12 wins with 166 saves and a 7.15 goals against average. Along with Abplanalp is talented freshmen Josh Weaver and Jon Pierce who also played well in the fall practices.
"While it's exciting for the team to achieve such great success on the field, we are equally excited with the work our team did off the field," said Moan. "Susquehanna had 12 Landmark Conference Academic Honor roll members, which is the most from any lacrosse team in the conference. Our 3.1 team grade point average was the highest it has ever been and concluded the ninth consecutive year that the team has increased its overall team GPA. Kade MacGregor received the men's lacrosse Senior Scholar-Athlete award, which is given to one senior men's lacrosse player in the Landmark Conference, a first for a Susquehanna player. The men's team has also continued to make its presence known in the Selinsgrove community with numerous community service projects completed last year and in the Fall.