Review & preview: McDaniel men's lacrosse

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

June 13, 2014|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

Here is the third 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. Thursday’s visit was with Hood. Friday’s visit is with McDaniel.

REVIEW

The good: The 2014 campaign was not as kind to the Green Terror (6-9 overall and 3-5 in the Centennial Conference) as coach Matt Hatton might have hoped, and a contributing factor was an offense that scored just 9.3 goals per game. But the unit averaged 11.7 goals in its final six contests compared to 7.8 in the first nine games, offering Hatton a reason to be optimistic.

“I think part of it is continuity within the system and playing with each other and settling into roles and being healthy,” he said. “I think the other part of it is, getting the right pieces on the field and allowing them to get comfortable in the system and comfortable with each other. I don’t think there was any question that down the stretch, we were playing our best offense.”

**Freshmen made an immediate impact for the team. Defensemen Will Kroppe (35 ground balls and 18 caused turnovers) and Alex Hanna (16 GB, 6 CT) were starters, and Kroppe marked opponents’ top attackman. Attackman Timothy McNichol recorded 20 goals and seven assists as a reserve, attackman Troy Becker added eight goals and three assists, and faceoff specialist Zach Bicho won 54.5 percent (164-of-301) of his draws and collected 95 ground balls.

“I think the biggest positive we could take away is that at times, we played at a really high level and we were playing a lot of freshmen,” Hatton said. “We started three or four freshmen pretty consistently and when you look at the way lacrosse works and you include faceoffs and everything else, you can probably add to that number. So we were pretty young, and we return a lot of guys. I think the reason we weren’t as successful as we wanted to be was because we couldn’t sustain that level of play long enough to win against quality opponents. But there were times when there were glimpses of playing a really high level of lacrosse.”

**With sophomore midfielder Jason Lawrence slowed by a broken rib, there was a void to fill, and junior attackman Patrick Serio accepted the challenge. Serio (Marriotts Ridge) led McDaniel in goals (29) and points (35) after a 2013 season in which he registered just four goals and two assists. Serio’s emergence was a welcomed sight for Hatton.

“I really felt like he came into his own and played his role pretty close to perfect in terms of what we wanted from that attack position,” he said. “So I thought Pat did a really nice job.”

The bad: For the second consecutive year, the Green Terror was left out of the Centennial Conference tournament. Qualifying for the league postseason was no walk in the park as Ursinus, which went 5-3 in the conference, lost a tiebreaker with Gettysburg for the fourth and final berth in the Centennial tournament. But that was of little consolation to Hatton.

“Our measurement of whether or not we’re successful is, are we competing in the postseason, and that’s the first step,” he said. “Obviously, it’s disappointing that for two years in a row, we haven’t been back to the Centennial Conference semis, and that’s not where we want to be.”

**The program’s bid for a spot in the conference tournament was derailed by losses in its final two games of the season. McDaniel battled Ursinus to a 5-5 tie after three quarters before the Bears scored seven of the fourth quarter’s eight goals to cruise to a 12-6 victory. And the team owns a 15-10 advantage 12 seconds into the final period against Gettysburg before the Bullets scored the final six goals to escape with a 16-15 decision. Hatton said the Green Terror’s young roster was unable to close the deal in both contests.

“I think our youth really showed and our lack of experience in critical moments like that surfaced and really cost us,” he said. “In retrospect, those two games cost us the opportunity to play in the Centennial Conference tournament. So we’re disappointed.”

**The defense continued to step backward. After surrendering an average of 8.4 goals in 2012 and 10.2 in 2013, the unit allowed 12.3 goals this past season. While there were several veterans like goalkeeper Christian Dallmus and short-stick defensive midfielders Ryan Weiss and Kevin Nicholas, junior defenseman Drew Cortese (14 GB, 11 CT) joined Kroppe and Hanna as first-time starters on close defense, and freshman Emmett Turley (17 GB, 9 CT) lined up at long-stick midfield.

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