Villanova Lacrosse 1997 Season Outlook
In 1996, the Villanova men's lacrosse team finished out the season with an 8-7 overall record. Taking into consideration a demanding schedule that included such powerhouses as Maryland, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Penn State and Rutgers, the season was indeed one to be proud of.
No matter who the opponent, the Wildcats held their own, keeping final scores close throughout the entire slate. To cap off the season, they went on a run that saw them post five wins in their last six contests. For Coach Marks, the hope is that last year's success will prove to be a source of confidence that will serve as the building block for 1997's young squad. In what is expected to be an extremely successful season, the '97 'Cats will be depending a great deal upon the guidance of its six seniors.
After losing 12 seniors from last year's squad, those six young men will be called upon to be the core of the team, utilizing both their experience and leadership abilities. "We have a good core group of six seniors who will be surrounded by some good returning players and also a very large and talented freshman class," says Marks. What should also work in the Wildcats favor this season is the fact that they are returning at least one player at very postion.
Leading the offensive unit will be junior attacker Jeff Huber, whose six goals and nine assists made him a major contributor in '96. Senior captains Kevin Gillespie and Paul Schroeder will be the ones to look for in the midfield. Last season, Gillespie started in all 15 contests, tallying a total of six goals and 10 assists, while Schroeder was right behind him with 10 assists of his own to go along with five goals.
All three will be counted on to pick up the scoring void left by last season's graduating seniors, Allan Bernotas, Patrick Cocks, Owen Cosgrove, Mark Nagle, and Craig Scornavacca, who compiled a combined 82 goals and 37 assists for a total of 119 points. On the defensive end, attention will fall upon the third senior captain, Eric Hintenach who also started in all of last year's contests. Senior Andrew Fabrizio and junior Brendan Kennealy will compete for the top goalie spot. Both, however, will have big shoes to fill after the loss of last season's standout goalie, Marc Cadin, who boasted 219 saves in '96. Marks will also be relying heavily on Brian Rhodes.
Beginning his junior season in the midfield for the Wildcats, Rhodes is considered to be among the top face-off men in the country. With all of this experience working for Villanova, there will, as always, be a new crop of Wildcats to keep an eye out for in '97.
This season's roster features 17 freshmen, each of whom appears to have the potential to go a long way throughout the next four years. "Our freshman class is very talented, yet lack game experience on the collegiate level," says Coach Marks. The head coach does, however, believe that a few of the freshmen could make an immediate impact on this season's team. Among them are attacker Tom Hourican and midfielder Jack McTigue.
Both were among the top 40 graduating seniors in Long Island in '96. Another freshman to look for on the attack is Justin Loonie, an All-New England player from Longmeadow, Mass. He, along with midfielders Eric Dauer, a Virginia State All-Star who scored 70 goals last season and Clayton Greene will look to boost the Wildcats offense. From a coaching standpoint, things will pretty much stay the same for Villanova. With his return, Coach Marks also brings back John McConaghy in the assistant coaching position. In a small change, last year's assistant coach, Stowe Milhous, will not be returning for this season.
Moving up to take his place will be 1996 graduate assistant coach, Matt Wojnovich. In '97, the 'Cats will once again play a very demanding schedule that includes Johns Hopkins and Maryland. Despite the hard fight ahead of them, they still forsee great success. Coach Marks seems to have little doubt that his team will be more than able to hold their own and compete with every opponent. "We have always played a very demanding schedule. To be considered a top program, you must play all the tough opponents. As our younger players get more and more game experience, we will be an exciting and fun team to watch."