2013 Men’s Lax Season Preview
March 6, 2013
By John Boccacino/Director of Sports Information
Keuka College’s men’s lacrosse team has won two straight North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) championships, and while the Storm lost talent on both offense and defense, head coach Jason Paige’s squad returns plenty of veterans and should once again be in the mix for the conference title.
Keuka easily defended its championship in 2012, capping off an 11-4 season (8-1 NEAC) by rolling past Medaille College 17-5. It was Keuka’s third straight appearance in the conference championship game, and the Green and Gold’s ninth straight win over a NEAC opponent dating to the regular season.
The Storm graduated their top two scorers: attackmen Gino Marcello (Rochester, NY/Churchville-Chili), who earned first-team All-NEAC after scoring 59 points (40 goals, 19 assists), and Chris Redington (Tully, NY/Tully), who scored 33 goals with 10 assists.
But plenty of talent returns for Paige, who enters his 14th season leading the Green and Gold with a career record of 97-74, including conference titles in three of the last four seasons.
“The stats we lost are big, but hopefully the guys can step up and fill those shoes,” said Paige, a Penn Yan Academy graduate and Washington College standout who was enshrined into his alma mater’s Hall of Fame last fall.
“We will have less experience on attack, we don’t have quite as many returners there as we do in the midfield, but hopefully they can gel together and help us move forward.”
Among the returners, juniors Scott Miller (Penn Yan, NY/Penn Yan) and Zachary Koczent (Geneva, NY/Geneva) earned first-team All-NEAC at defense and midfield, respectively.
Miller started all 15 games on defense for a Keuka team that allowed only 7.73 goals a game, with seven games allowing five or fewer goals. Miller caused a team-most 26 turnovers while scooping up 40 groundballs, third-most on team.
Koczent was Keuka’s best performer at faceoffs, winning 152 of 241 (63 percent) on the year, including going 88 of 129 (68 percent) in conference play.
Sophomore James Voigt (Penn Yan, NY/Penn Yan), senior Mike Crumlish (Hilton, NY/Hilton) and sophomore Anthony Luppino (Penn Yan, NY/Penn Yan) are the Storm’s top returning scorers.
Voigt, a midfielder, scored 40 points (26G, 14A); Crumlish, an attacker, scored 36 points (17G and a team-most 19A); Luppino, a midfielder, added 32 points (25G, 7A) with 61 groundballs, second-most on the Storm. Luppino earned third-team All-NEAC.
Sophomore midfielder Derek Pfeiffer (Lee Center, NY/Rome Free Academy) scored 11 goals (including six man-up goals) with five assists; classmate Cory Gray (Seneca Castle, NY/Midlakes), an attack, added six goals and nine assists in 11 games; junior Nick Judge (Clifton Springs, NY/Midlakes), a midfielder, contributed nine goals, four assists and 33 groundballs; and classmate Mike Donals (Livonia, NY/Livonia), an attack, scored 10 goals with two assists.
Junior Kenny Cannon (East Syracuse, NY/East Syracuse-Minoa), a midfielder, added four goals and seven assists while sophomore Stephen Ruggles (Corning, NY/Corning), also a midfielder, chipped in with six goals, four assists and 34 groundballs as the Storm outscored their opponents 209-116 (an average of 13.93 to 7.73 per game).
Among the newcomers, Paige expects attackers Connor Latimer (Whitby, Ontario/Genesee Community College), a junior, along with freshmen Matt Beebe (LaFayette, NY/LaFayette) and Brendan King (Auburn, NY/Auburn) to be immediate contributors.
Latimer twice earned National Junior College Athletic Association All-American honors at GCC, including first-team during the 2012 season when he scored a school-record 66 goals. He finished his GCC career with a school-record 217 points.
“Connor is actually a very accomplished leader on the field who played against high-level competition at GCC, and I think he definitely will be the quarterback of our offense,” Paige said.
“He’s done a great job helping some of the younger attackmen figure out what they need to do to be successful in college, and his skill level really helps him perform at a high level for us.”
The defense, led by Miller, senior Dustin Kiellach (Webster, NY/Webster Schroeder), juniors Brandon DeCaire (LaFayette, NY/Lafayette) and Justin Strain (Hamburg, NY/Hamburg) should once again be stout.
In goal, sophomore Eric Saltrelli (Webster, NY/Webster Schroeder) played in 13 games and made 10 starts in 2012. He posted an 8-4 record with an 8.11 goals-against average and a 60.4 saves percentage while making 137 saves.
“In just one year, Eric mastered our defense and he is able to make the calls on the field that we need from him,” Paige said of his goalie.
“Eric’s No. 1 attribute is he does a good job saving the ball, but he also brings energy to our team. He’s a big-energy player who tends to motivate the players around him with the plays he’s able to make.”
There is one rule change of note heading into the 2013 season. Unlike in past years, substitutions will be conducted on the fly, meaning an added emphasis is placed on midfielders to hold their own on both offense and defense instead of excelling in just one area.
“The pace of play will pick up considerably and our midfielders now have to be a two-way middies because there’s no extra time to get off the field if you’re an offense only guy,” said Paige, who needs three wins to earn his 100th career win.
“I’m hoping that really helps us in the long run. We have a lot of midfielders who can play both ways and that’s the style of game we want to play, an up-tempo game where we push the ball in transition. We want to pressure the defense and take advantage of these transition opportunities with the new rules.”
Keuka opens the season with a tough non-conference game, hosting perennial power R.I.T. at 1 p.m. Saturday at Penn Yan Academy’s turf field. The Tigers are ranked seventh in the latest NCAA Division III national rankings.
The Storm are on the road for non-conference games against Emmanuel (Mass.) College on March 16 and Alfred University on March 20. The Green and Gold’s home opener is at 2 p.m. March 23 vs. rival Elmira College.
“Our goals are to win more games and have a better performance in the month of March, to use some of our experience to play at a higher level as a team in the month of March,” said Paige, the winningest coach in program history and the longest-tenured coach on campus.
“Goal two is to do well enough in the league to make the conference tournament, and it’s all about small steps, one day at a time. We have to figure out our system from one end of the field to the other, and it’s about executing. Our big focus is to be able to execute to our potential for 60 minutes instead of a half here or a quarter there. RIT is one of the top teams in Division III and right out of the gate we get to see what the speed of the game is going to be like with a top-level opponent.”
Keuka opens the NEAC portion of its schedule on the road against rival Morrisville State on March 30 before hosting four straight conference games April 3 through April 13.
The team will hold its annual Senior Day and Parents’ Day contest at 1 p.m. April 20 against Penn State-Abington. The NEAC postseason tournament, which features the top four squads, runs May 1 and 4.