Men’s Lacrosse Season Preview: Promising Sophomore Season for Coach Grossman

Molly Bloom

The men’s lacrosse team’s 2012 roster features a mix of experienced returning players and a host of underclassmen who will see action early on in their college lacrosse careers, giving them an opportunity to make immediate impacts on the program.

“As a freshman, it’s great knowing that you can contribute right away to the success of a team,” said first-year goalie Nate Duletzke. “I’m pumped to be part of a potential breakout year for Oberlin lacrosse.”

One of the biggest positives coming from the talented first-year class is a pair of excellent goalkeepers, Erickson Andrews and Duletzke. After a string of bad luck and injuries for the goalies last season, having two options for the cage will be a big asset to the team. The two bring very different skill sets, but Head Coach Topher Grossman believes both could have the possibility to garner serious minutes in the net.

“Andrews is smaller, but he is very quick. He has the ability to make plays around the goal. Nate is bigger and has a good clearing game. Having the two opens up a lot more options for us,” said Grossman.

On the defensive end, the Yeomen return a number of standouts, including seniors Matt Fineman and Ted Pallis, and sophomores Kirby Livingston, Paul Paschke, and Noel Myers. These defenders provided a strong base around the cage and were excellent in the groundball game last season. Myers was honored by the North Coast Athletic Conference and named to the honorable-mention team for his outstanding efforts. First-year defender Brian Schupack “will [also] see a lot of time,” according to Grossman.

Fellow first-year Sean Higgins is another player who has to potential to make a difference. A skilled midfielder, Higgins has been noted as a player to watch for in his college debut. According to senior co-captain Fineman, Higgins “is not only very athletic, but has the fastest shot on the team. He is a player that any team will have to respect.” As a scoring threat, he will be extremely useful, even though the Yeomen are far from lacking in that department.

The Yeomen are returning five of their six top scorers from last season: seniors Dylan Holmes and Daniel Fineman, juniors Thomas Hake and Connor Jackson and sophomore Mickey Fiorillo. The five combined for a total of 96 goals and 156 points in 2011, offering a lot of depth to the attack. Grossman, who was the 2011 recipient of the NCAC Coach of the Year award, is excited about the offensive possibilities.

“We have seven or eight guys that we can feel really good about putting in there,” said Grossman. “Last season they were just starting to scratch the surface of what they are able to do.”

In particular, co-captain Jackson will be looked to as a team leader. He had a breakout year last season scoring 24 goals and boasting a team-high 46 points. Jackson is not only a strong attacker with a fantastic drive and finish, but as Fineman noted, “He has been a major driving force in making kids take the next step to a competitive team” — something Coach Grossman emphasizes.

“Our guys are excited for the year, and they are excited to take the next step for the program,” said Grossman. “The young guys are in our program to change the culture.”

Though many count the Yeomen as having the potential to rise up as a top competitor in the NCAC, Jackson indicates a different thought process. “We don’t really talk about potential on the squad because it doesn’t matter what the team has the potential to do, it only matters what we do. We [have] got a whole team of talent, it’s just going to be a matter of bringing it for sixty minutes on game day and executing,” said Jackson. “We are going to get ‘Ws.’ That’s why we’re out here.”

The Yeomen start off on Feb. 25 in an away match versus Aurora University, and their first home game will be at 7 p.m. on Mar. 14 against Albion College.