Preview: Veterans Poised to Turn Men's Lacrosse Program Around

Monday, February 18, 2013 - page 2

Ian Jones has started the offense for the Muhlenberg men’s lacrosse team many times by winning a face. In 2013, he will try to help the Mules pull off an about-face.

Jones is one of four senior captains for a Muhlenberg squad that looks to re-establish itself in the Centennial Conference, one of the strongest men’s lacrosse leagues in Division III. After making the CC playoffs in 2008 in only their sixth season as a varsity sport and contending for a spot in 2009 and 2010, the Mules have won only two CC games in the last two seasons. Last year, they dropped their final 11 games to finish at 2-12.

Ian de Ruiter
The only Mule to have played in all 41 games over the last three seasons, de Ruiter leads active players with 37 career caused turnovers.
The team is scheduled to open up at Montclair State, one of the opponents it defeated last year, on Wednesday.

“Last year is definitely a lot of motivation,” acknowledged Jones. “We’re trying to make a fresh start, but at the same time, we’re conscious of what happened.

“We have a lot to prove,” he added. “Everyone knows it and wants to do it.”

A big step will be to keep winnable games from getting away. In nine of their 12 losses last year, the Mules were ahead, tied or within two goals at halftime.

“The big thing we’re working on is positive energy,” said Jones. “It’s contagious just like negative energy and emotion is, so when something doesn’t go our way we just want to forget about it and move on to the next play. Our biggest challenge is ourselves.”

The four captains in charge of the attitude adjustment bring games that don’t need much adjusting.

Jack Reilly
Reilly is tied for fifth in program history with 28 career assists and leads active Muhlenberg players with 57 career points.
Jones takes over as the primary faceoff man, a position he held at the start of last season. He has won 55.4 percent of faceoffs in his career and ranks fifth in program history in career faceoffs won (165) and ninth in ground balls (107).

Midfielder Doug Rheiner is the team’s most dangerous offensive player. He tied for the team lead with 32 points en route to earning All-CC honorable mention last year. Jack Reilly will be the primary feeder on offense after ranking seventh in the CC in assists per game as a junior.

Ian de Ruiter, who led the Mules with 23 caused turnovers last year, heads a veteran defense. He also brings some international experience from a stint with the Dutch National Team last summer.

The four captains – one attackman, one midfielder, one defenseman and one specialist – represent a senior class that has seen plenty of action over the last three seasons. Midfielders Michael Carpetto (10th in program history with 103 career ground balls) and AJ Diaz (five goals last year) and defensemen Zach Weiner (13 caused turnovers last year) and James Coleman (10 caused turnovers last year) are all veterans who would like nothing better than to go out with a winning season.

“We were recruited off that 2008 team that made the playoffs, so that was our expectation coming in,” noted Jones. “The seniors feel like we haven’t accomplished that over our first three years, and our disappointment in not making the playoffs might be our biggest strength.”

Among the returning non-seniors who will be expected to contribute include sophomore midfielder Jon Thomas (17 goals, 4 assists last year), junior midfielder Casey Gill (3 goals), sophomore attacks Austin Akner (1 goal, 2 assists) and Jason Mertz, junior attacks Matthew Gallo and Tom Glancy and junior longstick middie Jason Monroe.

The team’s most competitive position may be at goalie, where four players are battling for the starting spot. Sophomore Adam Schlauch, who started five games last season, has the inside track.

As usual, the CC is expected to be challenging, with three teams ranked in the preseason top 20. Muhlenberg also plays an ambitious out-of-conference schedule, with two opponents that made the NCAA Tournament last year. All in all, the Mules’ 15 opponents combined for a .593 winning percentage in 2012.

“I think the experience is going to help us,” said Jones. “All these guys know the level we need to be at. We’re working on it every day, and we’re getting closer.”