With the release of the Landmark Conference Men’s Lacrosse preseason poll showing The University’s team sitting at third, the young athletes are hungry to prove they belong on top. Scranton falls just below the Catholic University of America and Elizabethtown College, which the team lost to in last year’s Landmark Conference championship semifinal game.
There are a lot of new faces gracing the men’s lacrosse team this year, including 13 first-year players and two new coaches. Michael Hofmeister joins the team as the head coach and Andrew Hauk joins as the assistant coach.
Despite the abundant novelty, many familiar faces return. The team returns its top six scorers, including seniors Matt Carfaro, Conor Carey and Patrick O’Rourke; junior Tim Dolan and sophomores Connor Kirkwood and Michael Elefonte.
Senior Adam Drury also returns for his final season. Being named honorable mention All-American and a first team all-conference player just last year, Drury is one of the greatest faceoff specialists in the country for NCAA Division III lacrosse with a win percentage of .733.
Senior midfielder, and captain, Carey spoke with The Aquinas about his team as they look ahead to their season opener today at 4 p.m.
AQ: The preseason poll just came out and you guys are ranked third, how are you feeling about that?
Carey: I think we can definitely be number one by the end of it.
AQ: Is it a motivator for you guys, not being number one?
Carey: Yeah definitely, we think we can be the best. We think that we can definitely beat the two teams ahead of us.
AQ: Catholic and Elizabethtown are in front of you, and you guys ended up losing to Elizabethtown in the semifinals last year. Is that going to be a really big game?
Carey: Yeah– they lost a lot of players this year – but both Etown and Catholic will be really big games…They’ve been our rivals for the three years I’ve been here and we haven’t beaten either of them since [my] freshman year.
AQ: Who do you think your toughest competitors will be this year, either conference or nonconference?
In conference I’d say Catholic, and also Etown. Out of conference we play Cortland who’s ranked sixth right now and then we play Montclair State in our last game who’s also ranked.
AQ: Are you confident about your season opener against Wilkes?
Carey: Yeah…We’re ready to play and for the season to stat.
AQ: How is the new coaching staff affecting team chemistry?
Carey: It’s good! It’s way better honestly. We play faster, we score more in practice and practices are more fun.
AQ: Are things switching up a lot from last year to this year?
Carey: Yeah, play-wise. We’re much better offensively and we just play so much faster.
AQ: How does losing eight seniors affect the team?
Carey: It’s not too much [of an effect]. Defensively we take a hit because our starting goalie, our best defense man and one of our best long-pole middies; we lost those three. But offensively we return like 90 percent of our scoring or something like that, so offensively we don’t take a hit.
AQ: Are there any games that you’re looking forward to? More than just toughest competitor…
Carey: Drew, because our [previous] coach left to go to Drew. So we’re going to kill them.
AQ: So is everyone pretty much on the same page? Gunning for Drew?
Carey: Yeah. And then just our conference games, too knock off those ranked teams.
AQ: Do you have goals you’re looking to achieve as a team?
Carey: I mean obviously [overall] to win a Landmark Championship and to win in the tournament, and then a specific goal we have is to score double digits every single game, and average double digits. And then just not to lose.
AQ: Is there something that you’ve been focusing on the most as a team in these practices leading up to the season?
Carey: Getting everybody on the same page so we can play as fast as possible. So we don’t have to think about ‘Oh where should I be?’ just we’re already there so we can execute perfectly.
AQ: So getting everyone on the same page… because there are a lot of freshmen is that difficult?
Carey: We do have a lot of freshmen, but I think it’s more of: once they see that everyone else is on board they can kind of follow the way everyone else is doing it. I’d say just getting everybody on board is more like… I think we all understand what we have to do, it’s just a matter of coming together and executing it.
The Royals open their season today at Wilkes University at 4 p.m. Their first home game is Saturday when they take on Marywood University at 1 p.m. on Fitzpatick Field.