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Muhlenberg College

Saturday, February 20, 2010 - page 4

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Season Preview
men’s lacrosse cleared for play

The Muhlenberg men’s lacrosse team, along with the women’s team and other campus volunteers, worked frantically the last two days, shoveling a considerable amount of snow in an effort to get Scotty Wood Stadium ready for play.

Their efforts were successful, and the Mules will open their 2010 season just one day later than scheduled when they host Stevens tomorrow at 3:00. Now the heavy lifting begins.

Muhlenberg is coming off a season that showed both
Sean Delany
Delany started three games last year and recorded a goal and three assists.
what could be and what could have been. The Mules tied for third place in the nationally competitive Centennial Conference (their highest finish ever) but missed the playoffs on tiebreakers. Included in the team's final record of 5-8 were four losses by a single goal, three coming to teams that made the NCAA Tournament.

Muhlenberg returns an experienced team of 25 veterans and has added 17 newcomers to its roster. The increased depth has already paid dividends.

“Every practice has been really competitive,” said co-captain Sean Delany, one of six seniors. “Everyone is fighting for a spot on the team. Nothing is set in stone, from the goalies to the defense to the midfield and attack, and even to the faceoff guys. It’s great to have that competition.”

The added depth should come into play in games as the Mules compensate for the loss of two first-team All-CC players. “Last year we were predictable,” commented Delany. “Teams knew [first-team All-CC selection Nick] Fletcher was our go-to guy on offense and [two-time All-American John] DeLuca was our shutdown defenseman. This year I feel a lot of teams won’t know where we're coming from.”

On attack, the Mules return sophomore Corey Aferiat, who led the team with 24 points on 14 goals and a team-leading 10 assists as a freshman. He will quarterback the offense and look to build on a very strong first year. Fellow sophomore Alex Ardolino played primarily in the midfield in '09 and contributed six goals and two assists. He will add explosive athleticism to the unit.

Junior Brent Siebold has enjoyed two excellent
Al Carpetto
Carpetto’s lone goal of 2009 was a big one, as it helped the Mules break a season-opening six-game losing streak with a 4-3 double-overtime win at Swarthmore.
years and leads all active players with 51 career points.

“In the attack we have a lot of athletes, and we are trying to utilize all of them,” noted Delany, who will play both midfield and attack and is one of the strongest player on the team.

Muhlenberg’s midfield will be led by senior captain Ari Jacobson and sophomore Clint Watkins. Jacobson finished the 2009 season with 12 goals and five assists. He is athletic and is going to be an all-around leader on the field. Watkins is a young and talented offensive midfielder who has the potential to become a dominant player for the Mules. He contributed 10 goals and two assists in his first year.

Delany and fellow senior Al Carpetto will compete with juniors Zachary Armstrong and Charlie Helm for consistent playing time in the midfield. Helm can shoot the ball and is anxious to get on track. Armstrong is an athlete who can do many things well.

A large group of sophomore midfielders will all
Ivan Brown
Brown was part of a defense that allowed an average of seven goals over the final nine games of the 2009 season.
contribute in situational play for Muhlenberg. Two of those sophs, Nick Rispoli and Charlie Pianko, will compete with Jacobson and several freshmen for faceoff duties.

The Mules will play defense in the midfield with experience and talent. Numerous players will compete, including sophomores Kyle Sullivan and Chase Nadell. Both are tremendous athletes; Sullivan looked like a budding star in fall workouts, and Nadell is coming off an all-conference football season.

Senior captain Matthew Schroeder anchors the defense. A leader on and off the field, he is focused on finishing his athletic career as one of the great leaders in this young program's history. Fellow seniors Ivan Brown and Will Garrity are talented, experienced and athletic. All three played significant roles for last year's defense. Juniors Tom Brant and Andy Curley had impressive years in 2009 and gained invaluable experience and motivation. Sophomore Jonathan Fritog is very talented and looks to earn playing time down low.

An outstanding group of defensive newcomers will add depth to a veteran core. This is the most complete defensive unit, from top to bottom, since the program's inception.

Returning between the pipes for Muhlenberg is junior Mike Horowitz, who started the final nine games of the 2009 season and had some terrific performances. He will be pushed by three other goalies on the roster.

As usual, Muhlenberg faces a difficult schedule, with three teams that participated in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Stevens is the defending ECAC Metro/South champion. The 2009 schedule, which was rated as the 18th-most challenging of the 156 Division III lacrosse programs by laxpower.com, included too many close games that ended in losses for the Mules. If they are to make a statement in 2010, they are going to have to figure out how to finish some of those tightly contested games.

“We talked about getting off to a good start in the first five minutes of the game,” said Delany. “We didn’t do that last year. This year, we are going to try to dictate the game more.”

With their field all ready, the Mules have a chance to get their season off to a good start tomorrow. "We’re very excited," Delany said.

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