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.
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.
“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.”
The final day of March has arrived – can you believe it?
I can’t, but what I can say is it has been a busy few weeks in the NCAA D-III lacrosse world – hopefully, you have stopped by to read our various player perspective interviews, along with our weekly notebooks this month! – but before we usher in a brand new month, along with the second half of the season, I thought we could revisit some of the storylines (and yes, headlines, too) from the past few weeks.
Salisbury University Women’s Lacrosse is off to a fast start
Let’s begin with Salisbury University, specifically the women’s team, which recently scored its eighth-straight win, as well as its third conference victory. The Sea Gulls are averaging 15 goals per game – so far, they have deposited 124 shots – and appeared to be in mid-season form earlier this month when they beat The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), 14-8.
Seniors Alexis Strobel (12 goals and 37 assists), Lydia McNulty (21 goals and three assists), and Julie Talbert (11 goals and two assists) have highlighted the Sea Gulls’ impressive attack, which has also received a boost from sophomore Erin Scannell, who has recorded career-highs in goals (26) and points (27).
With five games remaining, the Sea Gulls appear to be the team to beat in the Coast-To-Coast Athletic Conference (C2C) – one game to watch next month is Salisbury’s regular-season finale against St. Mary’s College, which has won three of four contests thus far. The Seahawks’ lone setback occurred earlier this month against Salisbury (14-10 setback).
John Carroll University boasts two NCAA D-III Goal Scorers
Skyler Blake and Colleen Grombala of John Carroll University are currently leading all NCAA D-III lacrosse players in goals – yes, I know this can change with games set to commence later today and this evening.
The Gents recently restarted their lacrosse program and defeated the University of Dallas earlier this month – the win is certainly a step in the right direction for the Maroon and White, which is currently the only NCAA squad in Louisiana.
As of this afternoon, Centenary boasts a 1-8 record but I’ll be rooting for them in their next two contests against Southwestern University and Dallas.
Averett University men’s lacrosse has shown improvements in its fourth season
The four wins are the most for the Cougars, who are scheduled to compete this Saturday, April 3 against William Peace University. This will be the first of two meetings between the two schools this season.
As of this afternoon, first-year Liam Taylor leads the Navy Blue and Yellow with 24 points on 18 goals and six assists.
Keep your eyes on Christopher Newport men’s lacrosse next month
The one-goal win over the Hornets was the first for Christopher Newport in four attempts (Lynchburg would even the season series six days later with a 12-5 win).
Despite a recent loss to Lynchburg, Christopher Newport has looked quite impressive this month – they are scheduled to face some challenging foes in Colorado College, Salisbury University, and Washington and Lee University over the next few weeks.
The Captains and Sea Gulls will square-off this Saturday, April 3 in Maryland with a face-off set for 4 p.m. I would highly recommend streaming the game.
The Washington and Lee women’s lacrosse team has won six-straight contests and will commence the second half of their schedule tomorrow when they visit Shenandoah University. After visiting the Hornets, the Generals will play four more contests before competing in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Tournament.
The George Fox University women’s lacrosse team will enter the second half of their schedule with a 7-0 record – the Bruins recently scored back-to-back wins last weekend against Willamette University. Andrea Garcia-Milla highlighted her team’s seventh win with six assists to go with five ground balls and one caused turnover.
The first weekend of New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) action is set to commence this Saturday, April 3 with three contests. Trinity College men’s lacrosse will visit Connecticut College at 11 a.m. followed by Bates College women’s lacrosse visiting Colby College. Connecticut College women’s lacrosse will entertain Tufts University at 3 p.m.
SUNY Cortland men’s lacrosse will enter the month of April with a 2-1 record – they recently defeated Clarkson University, 11-9, thanks to four goals and one assist from Zak Jones.
The Blue and White have now won seven consecutive meetings against the Orange and Black since 2014.
Gavin Gray and Jonahan Maisonave each recorded one touchdown in the win while the Berry defense finished with four interceptions and forced two fumbles. Devin Grier led the Vikings defense with three interceptions and Jack Carroll produced a team-high 13 total tackles, including nine solo stops and two tackles for a loss of seven yards.
Miles Thompson, Jacob Wood and Tajae White each recorded one touchdown for Hendrix.
Prior to Berry and Hendrix meeting in the SAA title game, Trinity University beat Birmingham-Southern College on the same field by a score of 38-15 – the game was played at War Memorial Stadium in Arkansas – while Centre College topped Austin College and Millsaps College beat Rhodes College on Sunday.
All eight teams will be idle until next school year, but Berry should be able to continue its spring season momentum into next fall, as well as be the early-season favorite to win its sixth-straight SAA title.
Other news and notes from a busy weekend of spring football:
The Wilmington College football team began its spring season with a come-from-behind win over Capital University. Quarterback Kyle Barrett capped a 16-play, 99-yard drive by tossing his second touchdown of the evening to Itika Wynn Jr. with 39 seconds remaining before the Wilmington defense denied Capital a chance to respond on its final series.
Brevard quarterback Eli Carr tossed a season-best four touchdowns in his team’s second-straight win over Huntingdon while completing 12 of 20 passes for 194 yards. One week earlier against Averett University, the Asheville, North Carolina native recorded a career-best in passing yards (212).
The Bluffton University football team scored its second-straight spring victory last Saturday, as well as third win of the 2020-21 school year as the Beavers topped Anderson University, 35-27. Bluffton’s current 3-0 mark matches its start from 2016, which saw the Purple and Gray finish its campaign with a 7-3 record.
CJ Seling was beaming just two days after the Centenary College of Louisiana men’s lacrosse team scored its first varsity win over the University of Dallas. And he had a good reason to smile.
The Gents’ three-goal (7-4) victory over the Crusaders was the culmination of both commitment and hard work by a group of student-athletes that Seling welcomed to a school, which recently relaunched the men’s lacrosse program as a club team in 2019 before competing at the varsity level one year later. And despite playing just six contests last spring before the current Covid-19 pandemic sidelined the squad, Seling began to notice his unit improve from week-to-week – he considered this some serious growth for a young squad that is currently made up of two seniors, eight sophomores, and eight freshmen.
That growth, which Seling highlighted in a phone interview on Tuesday, was on display Sunday against a Dallas squad that was limited to four goals on 13 shots. The Centenary offense produced a season-best 56 shots while Mark Temple and Jacob Miller combined for four goals and three assists.
Said Seling, “To keep a team to four goals was huge for us … (it shows) the growth (from the past two seasons), but also the potential we have for moving this program forward.”
Indeed, Seling’s squad has potential for more success – perhaps Sunday’s win could be viewed as a turning point for the state’s only NCAA Division III program that recently returned to the practice field with smiles from ear to ear. Seling and his team know there is still a lot of work to be done, but winning that first game in program history is exciting.
“No win is ever easy as you still have to go out and execute,” Seling explained, “but our guys did that and we’re proud of them.”
The Gents will attempt to continue their recent momentum tomorrow, March 12 when they visit Huntingdon College with face-off scheduled for 8 p.m. eastern, 7 p.m. central time.
News and Notes from the NCAA D-III Lacrosse World
The New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) announced plans to return to the field this spring, which means it is possible that we could see some lacrosse games played, beginning next month. However, for lacrosse games to occur, at least six schools must commit to a shortened season that would run from mid-April to mid-May.
It’s been roughly a year since the Alfred University men’s and women’s lacrosse teams competed, but the plan as of this afternoon is for both teams to return to the field this week.
Both teams are scheduled to entertain Elmira College over the next two days – the men’s team will face-off against the Soaring Eagles at 4 p.m. this afternoon while the women’s team will play on Saturday, March 13 at 3 p.m.
The USA Southmen’s lacrosse preseason coaches polls were announced earlier today – Pfeiffer University is expected to win the East Division while Piedmont College is the favorite in the West Division. Greensboro College and LaGrange College each secured one first-place vote.
The Capital University women’s lacrosse team recently scored their fourth-straight win on Wednesday with a 21-2 victory against Heidelberg University. Brianna Rampi highlighted the win with six goals while Brooke Delara recorded a season-best eight points on seven assist and one goal.
Capital will attempt to capture its fifth-straight contest on Saturday when they visit John Carroll University for their fourth Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) meeting of the season.
The Centennial Conference (CC) announced its spring schedule today with men’s and women’s lacrosse games set to begin next Saturday, March 20.
Finally, a quartet of Eastern Connecticut University men’s lacrosse players earned weekly honors from the Little East Conference (LEC) on Monday, March 8, including Shane Haggerty, who was tabbed the Rookie of the Week after tallying nine points on six goals and three assists in a pair of early-season contests.
While it seems hard to fathom, four weeks of NCAA D-III spring football is in the books – yes, four weeks! – which means it is time to unveil our weekly Noontime Sports Team of the Week for Monday, March 1, 2021.
As always, thanks for stopping by to read today’s Team of the Week, and make sure to come back later this week for more spring football posts.
Noontime Sports D-III Spring Football Team of the Week (March 1, 2021)
Anthony Avila (Mary Hardin-Baylor): Avila enjoyed a successful day of kicking the football last Saturday against Southwestern – he converted all seven extra points, along with a 42-yard field goal for 10 points before tallying eight kickoffs for 414 yards with two resulting in touchbacks.
Dakwa Davis (Texas Lutheran): Against Sul Ross State, Davis led all defenders with 11 total tackles, including six solo stops and four-and-a-half tackles for a loss of 15 yards. He also registered a half sack for a loss of five yards.
Cameron DeArman (Birmingham-Southern): DeArman was a player to watch on the Birmingham-Southern defense last weekend against Centre by posting eight total tackles, including four solo stops and two-and-a-half tackles for a loss of 22 yards. He also recorded one sack for a loss of 16 yards to go with four quarterback hurries.
Trentin Dupper (Centre College): Duper tallied 286 yards of total offense and four touchdowns last weekend in his team’s second spring game against Birmingham-Southern. Duper completed 14 of 25 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 38 yards and one score.
Gavin Gray (Berry College): Gray led Berry to its second-straight spring victory over Rhodes by completing 15 of 21 passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns while adding 10 yards on three carries.
Cameron Gieseman (Bridgewater College): In his team’s spring football season-opener against Shenandoah, Gieseman recorded nine points on three extra points and two field goals (longest was a 32-yard boot) along with four punts for 151 yards with two kicks landing inside the Horets’ 20-yard line. Giesman also recorded six kickoffs for 360 yards with three touchbacks.
Billy Higgins (Ferrum College): Against Emory & Henry last Friday, Higgins produced a game-high 11 total tackles, including two tackles for a loss of six yards and on sack for a loss of four yards.
Akeem Jackson (Mary Hardin-Baylor): Against Southwestern, Jackson produced 13 total tackles, including nine solo stops, four tackles for a loss of one yard, and one sack for a loss of four yards. Additionally, He recorded one forced fumble in his team’s 52-7 victory.
Tyler James (Austin): James amassed 320 yards of total offense, including 56 yards on eight carries. He completed 23 of 34 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns in his team’s second spring football game against Hendrix.
Julius Johnson (Louisiana College): Johnson led the Louisiana College defense against East Texas Baptist with nine total tackles, including five solo stops, two-and-a-half tackles of of nine yards and one sack for a loss of eight yards. He also recorded one interception (10 yards) in a six-point victory (23-17).
Kyle Jones (Hardin-Simmons): Against McMurry, Jones completed 15 of 24 passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for a game-high 71 yards on nine carries.
Grayson Overstreet (Emory & Henry): In his team’s spring season debut, Overstreet rushed for a game-high 196 yards on 32 carries and two touchdowns.
Donovan Pinnix (Emory & Henry): Against Ferrum, Pinnix turned in an impressive performance on defense with seven total tackles, including five solo stops and two sacks for a loss of 19 yards, along with one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Gavin Stone (Randolph-Macon): Stone enjoyed an impressive spring football debut last Friday by tallying seven points off four extra points (all made) and a 35-yard field goal to go with four punts for 154 yards, including three boots that landed inside the Guilford 20-yard line. Stone also recorded six kickoffs for 266 yards with one kick resulting in a touchback.
Miles Thompson (Hendrix College): Thompson racked up 316 yards of total offense, including 244 through the air on 22 of 26 pass attempts. He tossed two touchdowns against Austin while adding 72 yards on 10 carries.
Kip Vanhoose (Hendrix College): Vanhoose rushed for a game-high 94 yards on 10 carries and three touchdowns while catching three passes for 37 yards and one score.
Duncan Varela (Pugent Sound): Against Pacific Lutheran, Varela registerd 168 yards of total offense and three touchdowns. He rushed for a game-high 131 yards on 20 carries and one touchdown and caught three passes for 37 yards and two scores.