Review & preview: St. Mary's men's lacrosse

A look at the 2014 season for the Seahawks and a glimpse into 2015

June 11, 2014|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

Here is the opening installment of a series that checks in with the eight Division III programs in the state to give a glimpse into the past and the future. Teams are scheduled to appear according to the chronological order in which their seasons ended. So Wednesday begins with a visit with St. Mary’s.

REVIEW

The good: The 2014 campaign did not go the way the Seahawks (7-10 overall and 3-4 in the Capital Athletic Conference) had planned, but the season got off to a good start with a 12-8 victory on Feb. 18 over a Roanoke team that had been ranked eighth in a United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association preseason poll. St. Mary's also trailed then-No. 7 Washington College by just one goal before falling, 12-9, on March 5 and dropped a 13-11 decision to then-No. 14 Monclair State 10 days later. Moral victories aren’t very satisfying, but coach Chris Hasbrouck appreciated his players’ efforts.

“I can point to starting the season by going down and beating Roanoke, a perennial Top 10 team,” he said. “That’s two years in a row that we’ve beaten them. I look at some other games – Washington College with less than three minutes to go in the second half, and it was a one-goal game. Washington College was a national semifinalist. So I feel that we can certainly compete with anybody in the country. We learned this year that it’s a very fine line between winning and playing at a very high level, which we are capable of doing, and not finishing out and losing some of those games.”

**An offense that averaged 10.3 goals last season was supposed to take a step back after the graduation of attackman Patrick Mull (19 goals and 37 assists in 2013). But the unit actually improved with 11.5 goals per game, and Hasbrouck credited a group of returning players with maintaining the offense’s high standards.

“I think it was having a good core back, guys that know the system,” he said. “I think that was a testament to guys coming back in better shape, guys coming back stronger, guys working on their stickwork and shooting. We were running the same things, the same offensive sets.”

**St. Mary’s found several freshmen who got extensive play this past spring. Defenseman Mike Freiji (Loyola High) recorded 14 ground balls and 11 caused turnovers in 10 starts before breaking his right arm. Attackman Patrick Regan racked up 12 goals and 11 assists despite sitting out a few games due to concussion-like symptoms, and defenseman Javier Flores amassed 19 ground balls and six caused turnovers while making eight starts. And Hasbrouck is high on three rookie midfielders in Luke Eshleman, Greg Louzan and Michael Becraft.

“We had a couple freshmen get some minutes that we were hoping they would get,” Hasbrouck said.

The bad: The Seahawks became the first team in Capital Athletic Conference history to lose their opening game in the league tournament after winning the championship the previous year. Falling to Frostburg State (twice), York and Mary Washington reaffirmed Hasbrouck’s season-long contention that the CAC was quickly becoming the toughest conference in Division III.

“One of my kids came in and said, ‘Coach, we just didn’t believe that everyone was better [than they were in the past],’ and everybody is better,” Hasbrouck said. “Look at [Christopher Newport] knocking off Salisbury for their only loss of the regular season to us losing to Frostburg. The conference is incredibly competitive.”

**While the offense improved from 2013 to 2014, the same could not be said for the defense, which surrendered 11.3 goals per game this past spring after allowing an average of 9.0 goals last season. Hasbrouck was quick to praise the play of goalkeeper Zach Blewett and other members of the defense, but conceded that the unit missed the presence of defenseman Justin Harty, who graduated last year after compiling 37 ground balls and 30 caused turnovers.

“That was just a big void to fill and we paid the price there a little bit,” Hasbrouck said. “I think that was the main difference. We like our athletes back there. Salisbury’s capable of scoring a heck of a lot of goals, and we held them to 11 goals, and we felt that was a very, very winnable game for us. That’s one of those things where I think we’ll come out of this year stronger defensively because we went through some growing pains. But I think it’s going to make us a tougher and more resilient defensive team.”

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