The Springfield College men’s lacrosse team has commenced 2014 with a 4-0 start. They’ll look to extend their current winning streak to five-games tomorrow when they travel to Schenectedy, New York to take on Union College, which defeated the Pride last season.
Earlier today, Noontime Sports caught up with head coach Keith Bugbee to talk about the Pride’s early success, along with their senior leadership and defense.
On the season thus far: “I’m very proud of my team. It’s a senior team with good leadership and I think we’ve had to grind out some wins (thus far). I knew the Western New England game wasn’t going to be easy because they were sort of desperate for a win and we had beat them the last two years in a row, so I think they were coming in almost like a wounded animal. We had to beat them because they weren’t going to beat themselves. I thought they played well. We have another tough one tomorrow against Union, another game (we’ll) have to grind out, but these are great victories for us because this is how a championship (team) is built.”
On the team’s last contest against WNE: “The WNE game is a little different from every other game because I know their coach, I know half their roster and I recruited a lot of kids he has on his roster, so we both have a lot of local kids. We know each other really well and they’re always great games.
“(Against the Golden Bears), I thought were a little tight early in the game, especially on the offensive end and I think they just settled down (as the game progressed). We usually stay on the field at halftime and we go into the backend corner and do our thing, but for some reason we decided to go inside and we hardly never do it unless its crazy weather. I am not saying (our halftime location) won us the game, but we managed to refocus our attention, but we weren’t playing bad. I thought we rushed our offense and I thought we didn’t have rhythm or flow to our offense (in the first half).
“The WNE goalie (Brandon Body) was playing really well. I felt we were playing a lot of defense and quick offense, but I thought the second half we played more like we have done in the two previous games with a little more ball control, a little more flow and we got guys moving without the ball. We were also able to take some better shots. We just seemed to fall back into a good rhythm. In the third quarter we had the ball more, which was nice, but in the fourth quarter we got some quick shots and there were a couple really nice goals.”
On tomorrow’s game against Union: “Union is a very, very good team. They beat us last year at home and they have a very good goalie (Stefan Basile). I think their strength is on the defensive end because they have a really solid defense, but they certainly have guys that can take advantage of opportunities, while also scoring goals, too. They’re really good athletes, but they’re a lot like us. I would say they push the ball when they can and Paul Wehrum is a good coach. His kids play hard for him, so it’s going to be a tough game. I really, really think it’s going to be two grinding teams and I also think it’s probably going to be a low scoring game, too. Hopefully we don’t give up a lot of goals, but I think it’ll be a great challenge for us on the road.”
On what’s worked this year prior to last season: “Two years ago we had a total senior team. I really liked the 2012 team a lot. They went into overtime with Stevens in the NCAA tournament and beating Middlebury by 11 goals – that was a really similar team to this team. (Our team now) is senior oriented, very focused and then last year’s team – I kept calling them young, but then halfway through the year I stopped calling them young because it wasn’t so much that they were young. They weren’t young, but (our juniors, who started) played behind seniors for two years. Last year was the first year for majority of my players (having a chance to compete) and being in the limelight, so we handled some growing pains, but I thought last year we got a little bit better (each day). All in all, it was a year to get some guys some experience. We did not a nice job in our league and we beat Wesleyan at the end.
“We now have 12 seniors this year, a lot of them playing key roles. We have (two seniors) in net that really playing like senior goalies, along with senior middies and attack men like Murphy and Lynch, they’re both playing well. We have a senior at the face-off X, so key positions all around. They don’t seem to take a day off because they practice hard every day and they show up for every game and they know this is their last time to see a Nazareth or a Stevens Tech or a Middlebury, so the urgency is there, I don’t think they want to end their last game on a loss. I am really happy for them and I hope (this current trend) continues, but I think they also like the challenge (of our non-conference schedule).”
On the team’s seniors: “The seniors are just a great bunch. They’re all leaders, including Devin Abad, who has become a really good two-way midfielder, along with Ryan Murphy and Ryon Lynch. Matt Giannelli at defense is playing like a true senior, leader and captain. He’s done a fantastic job on defense and we’re excited to see him step up each game and have a big challenge. Both goalies are competing like heck right now. Bob Maher and Connor Nash have been splitting a lot of time over their whole careers. They’re both supportive and I am proud of both of them for that.”
On the team’s defensive play this season: “WNE is a perfect example. If we can hold a team to seven goals then that’s pretty good, so if they can do that they’re then allowing the offense to score. I don’t ever want to be in a game where we’re trying to outscore the opponent because that’s risky. They’re just a good unit and they’re sliding well and it is just a really good unit. It’s cliché, but defenses will win championships, no question. If you try to outscore an opponent that’s not the formula because you have to hold them down and not let them score at will.”