Category: College Sports News

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It’s All About “Experience” In Year Two for the SUNY New Paltz Men’s Lacrosse Team

Dwayne Stewart is in his second season as the head coach of the SUNY New Paltz men’s lacrosse team. (PHOTO COURTESY: Sarah Swift)

By Matt Noonan

Dwayne Stewart seemed ready for his next challenge. 

After assisting Ryan Kuhn with starting a men’s lacrosse program at Lincoln Memorial University as both an assistant coach and offensive coordinator from 2015 to 2018, Stewart was ready for his next challenge, coaching a first-year varsity squad at the State University of New York at New Paltz

“I was excited because I was going to be the leader of a team,” said Stewart, who is currently in his second season with the Hawks. 

Being involved with a new program seemed “normal” to Stewart, who has aspirations of one day winning a championship – “I want to do that fast,” he said when introduced as the school’s first-ever men’s lacrosse coach on August 9, 2018. Stewart has won a championship before when he played midfield at the University of Albany in 2013 but as of Thursday morning, the Copiague, New York native seems determined to provide his squad with as much playing and practicing experience as possible this season.

SUNY New Paltz’s inaugural campaign was cut short last spring due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, but the Hawks enjoyed a successful start, winning two of four matchups, including the team’s first varsity contest against Elmira College.

Stewart and the team used the lockdown, as well as the past few months to begin planning for this season – so far, the squad has competed twice, and despite dropping their initial State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) clash to the State University of New York at Plattsburgh (SUNY Plattsburgh) on Monday, Stewart and the Hawks were able to gain a better understanding of what they must work on, so they can be better prepared for future league matchups.

Joseph Bradbury attempts a face-off in his team’s first contest of the 2021 season last month. (PHOTO COURTESY: Sarah Swift)

“It was great to see the level of play (in the SUNYAC),” Stewart said of his team’s recent outing with Plattsburgh. “I am sure my guys learned a lot.”

The Hawks will gain more experience as the season progresses – in fact, they will learn a lot more over the next few weeks when they compete against other league foes, including the State University of New York at Potsdam (SUNY Potsdam), a team they will see next Monday, as well as later this month. But beyond the offensive and defensive reps, Stewart also plans to use these next few weeks to “instill” a team culture, as well as improve the system he is currently teaching the Hawks.

Like any coach, Stewart knows his system – and yes, his team’s goals – will be tweaked over time. But as for his vision – well, more his dream for where the Hawks can go from here is something his young team already believes in.

“You know, I pretty much sold them a dream (for this new program when I was hired in August of 2018) and they believed that dream and vision,” said Stewart when reflecting on his time the past few years with the program.

“We had a really strong showing (last February) against Elmira, and after we got that first win, along with an overtime win against SUNY Purchase, the team really started to buy into that message. And they’re feeding (into it more and more) as a second-year program.”

Player Perspective: Caleb Holdridge (Coast Guard Academy)

Caleb Holdridge recorded seven points on six goals and one assist last Saturday in his team’s season-opening win against Springfield College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Coast Guard Academy Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com

One year after leading the Coast Guard Academy men’s lacrosse team in goals (17) through six contests, Caleb Holdridge picked-up where he left off last weekend by leading the Bears with seven points on six goals and one assist in his team’s season-opening win against Springfield College.

Holdridge, who grew up and played high school lacrosse nearby in Waterford, Connecticut, admitted he did not anticipate logging that many points in his team’s first contest since last March. Instead, the second-year attackman gave credit to his offensive teammates, who he believes will also enjoy similar success later this spring.

“Our offense this year is very versatile – we have numerous people who can score, finish and get an assist,” said Holdridge, who also scooped three ground balls while recording one caused turnover last Saturday. “In our game against Springfield, we had seven people come out with a point, so I think that in itself is impressive.”

Indeed, the Bears’ opening day performance was impressive as every member of the Blue and Orange contributed to the program’s second win against Springfield, including Matty Johnson, who netted the go-ahead and eventual game-winner with 2:05 remaining in the fourth quarter, and Will Iorio, who concluded the game with two tallies and three assists.

Noontime Sports recently caught-up with Caleb Holdridge to discuss his team’s first win of the 2021 season, but also their outlook for this Saturday’s home date with Babson College.

This may sound like a simple question, but what changed for you (and the offense) in the second half as your team outscored Springfield, 6-3, during the final two frames to secure an opening-day win?

I think the second half is when we finally showed what we had been working on in practice.

The first half was just getting the jitters out and settling our nerves because nobody had played a game in over a year, so it was a surreal experience being back on the field playing against a different colored jersey again. However, once this feeling passed and (my teammates and I) settled in, we were able to display our team’s true potential. We were all able to operate on the same page, and I think this was especially shown in the fourth quarter (when we outscored the Pride. Our offense put away four goals (during the final frame) while our defense did not give up a single point. They also had two crucial stops at the end of the game.  

With your team playing a limited number of games this spring, how important was it to earn that first win? Additionally, do you believe an opening-day win against Springfield will provide the squad with some extra momentum heading into this week’s contest against Babson?  

I think it was a major momentum builder especially with the number of young players we had getting in the game and producing (on both ends of the field).

Dan Lucas recorded 12 saves in his first collegiate start and stood on his head in the fourth quarter with a doorstop save. Ryan Flynn and Dan Zarillo each recorded their first goals, and Gunnar Brodfuehrer won 60 percent of his face-off attempts. All four of these guys are sophomores, too, so I think it is a major confidence booster when we can produce from everywhere on the field no matter the grade or experience.

Wins like this are extremely impactful to get the ball rolling for the next game and even more so with a shortened season.  

What must you and the team continue to do this week as you prepare for your second game? Any adjustments on the offensive end?  

Given it was our first game in over a year, there are definitely areas we need to clean up, but that is also the best part because we have yet to show our true potential. And while this was only our first game of the season, we were still able to show impressive production on both sides of the field. We believe we still have a lot to work on, but it was a good start to this shortened season.

Finally, tell me about returning to the field last weekend. What sort of emotions were both you and your teammates experiencing when stepping onto the field to play a game for the first time in roughly a year?  

It was definitely a surreal experience being in that type of atmosphere again. The week leading up to the game felt a lot longer than it was and I would get goosebumps every time I thought about the game. But once I caught the first pass it was such an easing feeling where it finally felt like something was back to normal in this era of Covid-19.  

D3 Lacrosse Notebook: Springfield’s Sarnacki Shines In Season-Opener

Kate Sarnacki recorded eight points on seven goals and one assist in Springfield College’s season-opener last Saturday against Babson College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Springfield College Athletics)

By Matt Noonan

Kate Sarnacki could not have asked for a better start to her fourth season with the Springfield College women’s lacrosse team.

The Granby, Massachusetts native tallied seven goals and one assist in her team’s season-opener last Saturday against Babson College before Taylor Pichel netted the game-winner in overtime on a free position attempt.

“I had no idea what to expect going into that first game, especially against Babson,” said Sarnacki, who also recorded three caused turnovers and captured one draw control. “I wasn’t sure how their defense would come out, and if we would have to make adjustments if they threw a face guard (at us), but they just let us play and we were able to put the ball in the back of the net.”

While Sarnacki led all scorers with seven goals, Springfield received additional contributions from Taylor Pichel (three goals and one assist) and Katie Martel (three goals). First-year Maddy Roy recorded her first collegiate goal and classmate Colleen Browne picked-up her initial win between the pipes with seven saves.

Springfield’s opening-day win should certainly provide the Maroon and White with some momentum heading into their next few games – Springfield, as well as the Beavers, are playing a conference-only schedule this spring with each team competing in five contests. The Pride are currently one of three teams in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) that boasts a 1-0 record as both Coast Guard Academy and Wheaton College captured their initial contests of the 2021 season last weekend.

With four games remaining, Sarnacki, along with her teammates, know each matchup is critical in accomplishing their overall goal of winning a conference championship.

“I think it’s even more important with a shortened season because it sets the tone,” said Sarnacki, who has netted 115 goals in 44 contests with the Pride.

“In a normal season, the first half of your schedule is against non-conference opponents so you have time to figure out what works and what you need to adjust to prepare for conference play. This year, we don’t have that time or luxury, so scoring an opening-day win boosts our confidence as a team, but also fuels us to keep getting better every day because we know what we are capable of (doing on a weekly basis).”

Springfield will visit Coast Guard this Saturday in what is certainly an important contest for both squads. The Bears defeated Emerson College last weekend by a score of 17-9, and will attempt to erase memories of a 12-8 setback in 2019 that saw Sarnacki record four points on three goals and one assist.

Said Sarnacki, “We will definitely work to improve our transition game a little bit, and focus on discipline so we can limit our yellow cards on Saturday. Our main focus will be to continue improving all over the field while continuing to enjoy this opportunity to play together.”


News and Notes from the NCAA D-III Lacrosse World

Player Perspective: Kat Walton (Capital University)

Capital University’s Kat Walton recently became the all-time points leader when she recorded eight points on six goals and two assists in the Crusaders’ win last week against Ohio Northern. (PHOTO COURTESY: Capital University Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com

Kat Walton knew she was closing in on Kara Hines‘ all-time points record (248 points) with the Capital University women’s lacrosse team, but she may have not know that it would only take her six games this spring to establish a new record after registering six goals and two assists last Wednesday in her team’s 21-9 win over Ohio Northern.

“I knew (before) our season started that I was close (to Kara’s all-time points record) and there was a chance I could break it,” said Walton.

Walton not only broke the record, but recently established a new mark of 262 points after tallying 11 goals and five assists in her team’s last two outings.

Stacey Florence, who is the head coach of the Crusaders, announced at halftime last Wednesday that Walton had broken the record – she also presented the Pickerington, Ohio native with a game ball.

Said Walton, “I absolutely would not have this record without my teammates.”

In addition to becoming the all-time leader in points, Walton also became the second student-athlete in the program’s eight-year history to reach 200 goals last Saturday when she completed her hat trick in the second half of her team’s 22-10 win over Baldwin Wallace.

Noontime Sports recently caught-up with Kat Walton to discuss the Crusaders’ current campaign, but also what it means to be the all-time leader in points.

Tell us about last Wednesday’s record-setting performance against Ohio Northern. How were you able to produce a season-high eight points on six goals and two assists?

As a team, we were really fired up coming off of a loss (to John Carroll University). We knew what we needed to do – we needed to execute and play our game, and we wanted to make a statement. We knew that driving to goal was going to be our biggest threat that night and it just worked out that I had a hot hand.

Looking back on the past four years with the Capital women’s lacrosse team, did you think it was possible that you would break Kara Hines’ all-time points record?

I truthfully did not know if it was possible as I was and still am surrounded by so many talented players.

I played with Kara for two seasons – my first season was cut short due to an injury after six games, but I was able to see how talented she was, but also that she set the bar high.

From your perspective, how has the season gone thus far? Did you anticipate your team would win six of seven contests to start the season?

We are having a great season. As a team, we are all just happy and thankful that we are playing again after losing last year (to the Covid-19 pandemic). Every game we go into we want to win of course, but also have fun because that is when we play our best lacrosse.

We are about to enter the second half of our season, so I am expecting to see a lot more wins coming from our team.

What must you and the team continue to do to improve week-by-week and game-by-game?

We need to learn something new about ourselves as individuals, but also as a team. I think each week we must continue to improve our chemistry. We are learning more and more about what we like to do on the field, but also how we can set each other up for success on offense and defense.

Finally, being that this is your final season, what would it mean to end your time with Capital by capturing the program’s first-ever Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) Tournament title?

To win our first Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) tournament title would mean everything to our team. Every single year our goal is to win the conference tournament and sadly, we have fallen short, but I truly believe this team has the heart to do it.

I came back for my final year to play with my best friends and to win the conference tournament championship, and I am positive this is an attainable goal.

D3 Lacrosse Notebook: Lynchburg Looks To Continue Its Early-Season Success

Nicki Santora netted five goals, including the game-winner in double-overtime in Lynchburg’s 13-12 win over Mary Washington last Saturday. (PHOTO COURTESY: University of Lynchburg Athletics)

By Matt Noonan

It’s been an exciting few days for the University of Lynchburg women’s lacrosse team, which scored an impressive double-overtime win last Saturday against the University of Mary Washington before securing the final spot in this week’s Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) D-III poll.

The Hornets’ win over the Eagles was their first in their last 13 attempts and should provide Lynchburg with some additional momentum heading into their next contest on Wednesday, March 24 against Christopher Newport.

Lynchburg’s 3-1 start is a testament to a trio of graduate students – Kelsi Trevisan, Carly Sandler, and Nicki Santora – who have combined for 44 points on 32 goals and 12 assists. Additionally, senior Leah Dumas has been a player to watch, especially last weekend when the Kennebunk, Maine native posted season-bests in points (five) and goals (four).

As a team, the Hornets are averaging 21.5 points per contest – they produced season-highs in goals (22), assists (11), and points (33) in their season-opener against Averett University last month before combining for 17 goals earlier this month against Meredith College.

Lynchburg is currently one of four teams in the Old Dominion Conference (ODAC) that has won at least three games thus far – Ferrum College has won four of seven matchups while Washington and Lee and Roanoke College each boast identical 3-0 records.

Washington and Lee, which is ranked third in the latest IWLCA poll, has also enjoyed a successful start to its 2021 campaign, as well, winning three-straight contests while averaging 22.00 goals per game.

The Generals, who are currently in first place in the ODAC, will look to extend their early-season winning streak to four games on Saturday when they visit Mary Washington for a 12 p.m. opening draw.

Allie Schwab is one of many players to watch on the Generals this season – she currently leads the Blue and White with 20 points on 10 goals and 10 assists, and is second in the ODAC in that same category behind Ferrum’s Erin Reynolds (16 goals and five assists).

Washington and Lee might be the favorite to win the conference crown later this spring, but Lynchburg is one of a few teams in the ODAC to watch over the next few weeks – the same could be said for Randolph-Macon College, Shenandoah University, and Roanoke College.


News and Notes from the NCAA D-III Lacrosse World

  • Franklin & Marshall is this week’s top team in the latest IWLCA Poll – the Diplomats, who were previously ranked second in the Top 25 coaches poll, will play their first game of the 2021 season next Saturday, March 27 against Ursinus College.

  • The Salisbury University women’s lacrosse team has enjoyed an impressive start to their 2021 season, winning five-straight contests, including back-to-back games against ranked opponents: Mary Washington and St. Mary’s (Md.). Salisbury will host The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) on Saturday, March 20 with opening draw set for 1 p.m. TCNJ enters the game with a 1-0 record.

  • As of this afternoon, it appears as if just two members of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) will be playing games this spring. And they are the following: the University of Redlands and Chapman University. Both schools will play each other four times next month – it is possible we could see a fifth match-up on Saturday, May 1 – but as of now, the Bulldogs of Redlands will keep their focus on their initial foe of the 2021 season: Cal Lutheran University.

  • US Lacrosse Magazine republished a must-read from Lindsey Farrell, a former student-athlete with the McDaniel College women’s lacrosse team, about how the school made her who she is today.

  • Congrats to Kat Walton of Capital University, who recently recorded her 256th career point in the Crusaders’ recent win over Ohio Northern.