With the spring athletic season right around the corner, the Mercyhurst men’s lacrosse team has received several high preseason rankings, have raised expectations for the upcoming 2014 season.
The Lakers rank second in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) Coaches’ Preseason Poll, voted as favorite to win the Eastern Conference Athletic Conference (ECAC) for the 2014 season and received third ranking in Lacrosse Magazine’s NCAA Division II 2014 preseason rankings.
The Lakers preseason accolades can be referenced to an exciting 2013 season.
The Mercyhurst men’s lacrosse team fought for an 18-1 2013 record, placing No. 1 in the ECAC conference after defeating Limestone.
The season resulted in an appearance at the NCAA championship game last May for the third time in school history.
Jake McAndrew, senior attackman and Captain, weighed in on the team’s reaction to the preseason rankings and the outlook on the team for the 2014 season.
“We don’t see the rankings as an indicator at all. We have a large senior class that has been successful and has learned to overcome adversity. We know coming in each year, we have the ability to win a National Championship. All of the rankings don’t mean anything to us.”
“So far the team looks good” added McAndrew. Despite the winter weather preventing the team from receiving full field time very much this year, “this team is the most prepared and in shape team I’ve been on.”
The Lakers have several freshman that are going to see significant minutes this year. Chad Levick and Keyan McQueen, both Canadian, are going to see significant time on man up opportunities. Also Kenny Nelson, another freshman, will be able to contribute at attack.
The biggest strength this year is the returning defense led by Andrew Wagner who was chosen as Lacrosse Magazine’s Division II Preseason Player of the Year. Wagner earned the William C. Schmeisser Award as Division II’s Most Outstanding Defender in 2012 and 2013.
The biggest weakness for the Lakers is the loss of Brian Scheetz on attack. He was a USILA Second Team All-American and leading scorer in program history.
“He was a one of a kind player,” McAndrew said. “I have been issued with taking over his role of quarterback of the offense. If I can learn from him and continue to mature, the offense should be able to continue to get better,”
McAndrew concludes with confidence, “the difference with this team is that the offensive guys who haven’t seen a lot of time in the past have shown the ability to step up and make plays, if that happens the team will be very successful this season.”
The Mercyhurst Lakers men’s lacrosse team, thinking past the preseason hype, is focused and ready to have another successful season. With a returning strong senior defense and a young talented offense, the Lakers are ready to repeat and capture last season’s prosperity.