Green Terrors defensive about task

March 08, 1994|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Sun Staff Writer

At one end of the field, Western Maryland men's lacrosse coach Keith Reitenbach finds a wealth of experience. At the other end, the opposite holds true.

The Green Terrors open their 1994 season Saturday afternoon against Lynchburg (Va.) College with a veteran defense and a talented, but unproven, offense. It leaves the Green Terrors with a wait-and-see attitude coming off a solid 10-3 mark in Reitenbach's first season.

"If you go by the old cliche 'defense wins championships,' we should be all right. I'd like to think we'll be in every game," Reitenbach said.

"We're inexperienced at the other end of the field, so we'll rely on our veteran defense in the early going while the offense gets its feet wet."

The second-year coach is looking for his veteran defensive corps to hold the line and a relatively inexperienced offense to find an identity.

It all starts with senior goalie Mark Brunco, who's starting his third season in the Green Terrors' cage. Last year, he came up with 141 saves and allowed 67 goals for a .678 save percentage.

"Last year, he was the starter but we also played some of our other goalies. This year, Mark is going to have to be more of a 60-minute man," Reitenbach said.

"He provides good leadership, is a great stopper and gets our offense going with his outlet passes. He had some big games in our biggest wins last season."

Brunco has his top five defenders back in front of him from last year's 10-3 team.

Senior co-captain Chris Cutler emerged as the Green Terrors' top defender in the second half of last season after being slowed by an early season injury. Senior Keith Abel is an aggressive defender who's a significant threat going up field with three goals and two assists last year.

Junior Rob Doeller started every game last year at close defender; senior Pat Bonner was awarded the team's Most Improved Player last year, his first playing lacrosse, and senior Shane King is the Green Terrors' fifth reliable defender back.

Four of the Green Terrors' top five scorers from last year graduated, leaving Reitenbach with plenty of holes to fill up front. Sophomore Dean Coccia is the one scorer who is back, coming off a 24-goal, 33-assist freshman season -- second best onthe team.

"This year is going to be a big test for him," Reitenbach said.

"Last year, he had the luxury of having Joe Furnari and Brian Sattler on the starting line with him. He had the third defender on him and was able to take teams by surprise. This year, they'll be looking for him."

Junior Mike Marsico (11 goals, nine assists) also will run up front with Coccia. Both also will run a shift at midfield.

Senior co-captain Ken Higgs (Westminster) will anchor the midfield. He was sixth on the team in scoring last year with 16 goals and seven assists.

The Green Terrors will go with three midfield lines with one freshman on each. Scott Hall (Liberty) will run on the first line with Higgs; Scott Schenzer and Dan O'Kelly also will see regular shifts. Sophomore Brian Volk, a transfer from Towson State, also will play a key role in stabilizing the midfield.

Lynchburg, ranked 14th in the U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association's coaches' Division III preseason poll, is one of six opponents ranked among the top 20 the Green Terrors will face in their 14-game schedule -- including three in their first five games.

Reitenbach believes the tough early schedule will make the Green Terrors a better team once the Centennial Conference schedule begins.

"The nice thing about youth is the optimism that goes along with it," Reitenbach said.

l "The tough early tests will put us in position to be competitive in our league. Anytime we're in position to win our league puts us in potential to play in the postseason. To be the best, you have to go up against the best. We may take some lumps at the start, but we like the direction our program is headed."

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