After closing out the 2011 season with a 7-7 record, the Geneseo men's lacrosse team will be looking to rebound from their first finish at or below the .500 mark since head coach Jim Lyons' first year with the team. A year ago, the Knights had their season cut short by second seeded SUNY Potsdam, 18-17, in the semifinals of the SUNYAC tournament, ending their streak of eight straight title game appearances. Rival SUNY Cortland went on to win their fourth straight conference title against Potsdam in the finals.
This season will most likely be about rebuilding for Lyons who will lose six starters including two-time honorable mention All-America attack Craig Lange, who led the team with 51 points on 18 goals and 33 assists and two-time honorable mention All-America defender Joe May, who paced the defense with 25 groundballs and a team-high 22 caused turnovers. Lange and May were elite talent, however, coach Lyons is confident that the 2012 squad will be a better overall team. At times during the 2011 campaign Lyons believed his team got away from their game plan systematically and relied a little too heavily on their stars. This year, although growing pains are to be expected, the strong work ethic, team-first mentality and productive atmosphere surrounding the players are all positive signs, according to Lyons.
At attack, the Knights will rely heavily on senior Brendan Kurpis (Yorktown) who led the team with 34 goals in 2011 and could easily end his career in the top five all-time at Geneseo. Sophomores John Wettack (Mercer Island, WA/Mercer Island) and James Purpura (Pittsford/Sutherland) and junior Brent Doerflein (Amherst) will also play consistent minutes at attack for the Knights. First years Steven Cregan (Rochester/Brighton), a very savy player according to coach Lyons, Sam Thompson (Queensbury), a good off the ball finisher, Brent Lawless (Massapequa Park/Massapequa) and Cory Gleasman (Clinton/Clinton) will see time at attack with an opportunity to develop.
According to coach Lyons, if Geneseo's offensive midfield can find their comfort zone and learn to play more efficiently together, they could be the defining aspect of the team. Senior Jeff Watson (Camillus/Marcellus) has the potential to be a dominant middie for the Knights. Watson, along with junior Tim Burgess (Syracuse/Westhill) and talented first year Steven Aziz (Jamesville/Jamesville DeWitt), will get a majority of the playing time, while juniors Tim Hayden (Phoenix/Baldwinsville) and Andrew McNulty (Huntington Station/Walt Whitman) will get consistent minutes. First year midfielder Pat O'Brien (Huntington) will also warrant some attention, as he brings a lot of high expectations to the Knights. Geneseo's depth in the midfield is very strong with seniors Mike Fandrich (Auburn) and Tim Besio (Camillus/West Genesee), sophomores Greg Harris (Huntington Station/Walt Whitman) and Yanni Dischley (Dix Hills/Half Hollow Hill West), and first year Andre Keating (Ithaca) all battling for playing time.
Junior Frank DiSanti (Melville/Half Hollow Hills East) will continue to manage face-offs for the Knights, with sophomore Joe Cicio (Northport) and junior Chris Topping (Webster/ Schroeder) providing occasional relief.
Junior John Felix (Scarsdale), who coach Lyons described as a blue-collar player, anchor of the defense, and one of the hardest workers on the team, leads the defensive midfield, which also includes junior Bob Masica (East Aurora), who will spend time at long-stick mid, and sophomore Kyle Kerrigan (West Islip). After hitting the weight room hard in the offseason, junior Jeff Dunworth (Katonah/John Jay) comes into the season in great shape and will look to make his mark at long-stick midfield, while two-sport athlete, sophomore Connor Fedge (Bellport/Bellport), helps to round out the squad. Coach Lyons believes that Fedge, a member of Geneseo men's basketball team, has the ability to be the best athlete on the field.
Despite the graduation of May and Joe McCormack, who scooped 27 groundballs and caused 12 turnovers a year ago, the Knights still look deep on the defensive end as senior Derek Drance (Huntington/Harborfields), who tallied 30 ground balls and 18 caused turnovers in 2011, will lead the unit. Like May a year ago, Lyons cites Drance as a guy who is more than ready to step up and be the leader on the defensive side of the field. Sophomores Jules Zidi (Yorktown/), Kyle Johnson (Long Beach), and Erik Waltz (Kirkville/East Syracuse-Minoa) will get time at defender with senior Tom Gordon (Bay Shore/West Islip) handling the majority of man-down situations. First years Matt Emmenegger (Briarcliff Manor/Briarcliff) and Dom Infanzon (Port Jefferson Station/Comsewogue) display a lot of promise at defender and will be groomed throughout the season.
In his first year in net, sophomore goalie Ryan Zaremba (Bay Shore/West Islip) posted a 9.74 goals against average and .525 winning percentage, playing 763 out of 847 minutes. However, Zaremba, junior Michael Greubel (North Merrick/Mepham) and sophomore Adam Perri (Auburn) entered winter workouts in fierce competition for the starting job, with Zaremba eventually earning the edge. Coach Lyons expects to see dramatic improvements from Zaremba, who is just three years removed from backstopping West Islip High School to a State Championship. Greubel currently holds the reserve job with Perri in the third position.
The Knights open up their season on Wednesday, Feb. 29 against Lycoming at Monroe Community College.