The Susquehanna University men’s lacrosse team is looking forward to continuing its efforts to establish itself as a national contender. The Crusaders are coming off their first-ever Landmark Conference championship and subsequent appearance in the NCAA Division III Men’s Lacrosse tournament.
It is a new year, though, and the 2014 squad enters the season with much optimism as the program welcomes a strong group of newcomers along with an experienced group of upperclassmen. Head coach Stewart Moan strongly believes the program is poised and ready to propel itself forward to contend at the conference and national levels. Many young players with collegiate minutes under their belts are ready to become major contributors, along with some new talented faces that are expected to contribute and help the team achieve their goals.
The attack will be led by returning All-Conference senior Austen Lein (New Vernon, N.J./Madison) and fellow senior Pat Brogan (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield) (returning after missing last year due to injury) as well as junior Phil Lapone (Essex Fells, N.J./West Essex) and sophomore Ryan Buckley (Stony Brook, N.Y./Ward Melville).
Lein started all 19 games a year ago and was an All-Landmark Conference performer. Of his 32 goals, three were game winners and he finished with 22 assists for a 54-point campaign. Lapone, meanwhile, finished with six goals in 15 games, including six starts.
While the team will no doubt miss the play of All-America midfielder Marcus Cheatham ’13, the 2014 midfield group is a deep one with a host of talented players. Among those expected to lead at the position are senior Chris Minghenelli (Voorhees, N.J./Eastern Regional), junior Carmen Raroha (Voorhees, N.J./Bishop Eustace) (19 points in 2013) and sophomores J.A. Howland (Lititz, Pa./Warwick), Jake Calder (Lutherville, Md./Dulaney), Greg Rabiecki (Maplewood, N.J./St. Peter’s Prep), Greg Budd (Kinnelon, N.J./Kinnelon) and Adam Fox (Brookfield, Conn./Brookfield). Freshman Andrew Kontra (Mountainside, N.J./Oratory Prep) looks to contribute to the offense, as well.
Raroha had 12 goals and seven assists last year while Minghenelli picked up three goals, including two man-up scores, and two assists. Calder appeared in 16 of 19 games and added one goal and two assists while Howland, Rabiecki, Budd and Fox combined to appear in 47 games.
Defensively, the midfield will be led by senior Matt Brady (Charlotte, N.C./Providence) who will also be joined by junior Connor Boyland (Long Valley, N.J./West Morris Central). Brady recorded 23 ground balls and added two assists while Boyland made 14 appearances as a sophomore.
Moan is very encouraged about the returning defenders. Overall, the defense has a good mixture of youth and experience, led by sophomores Kade MacGregor (Centreville, Md./Queen Anne’s County) and Corrie Van Haasteren (Raymone, Maine/Hebron Academy), senior co-captain J.B. Montanye (Reisterstown, Md./Loyola) and classmate Jake Farrell (Downington, Pa./Bishop Shanahan) .
Montanye, in addition to helping anchor last year’s offense, also added eight goals (two game winners) and two assists. Farrell had 22 ground balls a season ago in addition to seven caused turnovers while appearing in all 19 of the team’s games.
MacGregor started 17 of 18 games as a freshman, had 55 ground balls and 28 caused turnovers. Van Haasteren, meanwhile, also played in 18 games and added 25 ground balls and 12 caused turnovers.
The long pole midfield position will be led by senior Peter Donley (Pittsburgh, Pa./Pittsburgh Central Catholic), who started 12 of 15 games a year ago. In addition, sophomore Seth Kaltrider (Brookfield, Conn./Brookfield) is also developing quickly and looking to contribute.
The goalkeeping duties will be led by returning junior Jared Knowlton (North Salem, N.Y./Kent School) who had strong fall practices and is looking to lead the Crusaders this spring. Knowlton played in eight games and started four of them last season with a .531 save percentage. Along with Knowlton is talented sophomore Ted Benoit (Newtown, Conn./Newtown) who played in six games and started one last season. Having two outstanding goalies gives SU great depth at this position.
The 2014 season gets underway on Feb. 22 with a game at Lycoming. Spring break will take the team to Shenandoah and Randolph-Macon and Landmark Conference play gets started on March 22 when the Crusaders host Drew.
Susquehanna ends the season with three home contests over the final four games, including a Senior Day matchup with Scranton on April 17.
Susquehanna University will rely on a combination of experience and depth along with new, young talent to challenge for a top spot in the Landmark Conference Tournament. They have to be more consistent against the top teams in the region if they are to make this a reality. The competitive schedule should help to prepare the Crusaders for any postseason competition.