After an outstanding performance last spring, the Wittenberg University men’s lacrosse team enters the 2011 season with more confidence than they had in past years.
The Tigers ended their season with one of the best records in the program’s history, finishing with a 10-5 record and 4-1 in the North Coast Athletic Conference, not to mention beating rival Denison, winning the conference title, and making the playoffs for the first time ever.
“Coach expects us all to be disciplined,” said goalie and team captain Mark DeOliveira. “He expects winners.”
This season the Tigers look to win the conference title outright, after having to share it last season with the Ohio Wesleyan Battling Bishops. They have also challenged themselves to not only make the playoffs again, but to progress further into the tournament.
In order to achieve these goals, Head Coach George Harris has his players spending countless hours watching film and working with assistant coach Mark Morrell on top of their regular practice.
Some key players that graduated last spring include Ted Winders, Mike Derrenberger, Jeff Boucher, and 3-time captain Jeff Capella. DeOliveira is sorry to see them go but said that there are many returning athletes this year who are ready to fill the shoes of players like Capella and Winders.
Offensively, the Tigers still have a handful of scoring threats including seniors Mitch Cohagan, Matt Lord, Brady Christensen and Matt Snider, and all were among the top five scorers last season. Others include senior Chris Gibson, junior Jimmy Luckino, and sophomore Alex Previte who was last season’s NCAC newcomer of the year.
On defense, Wittenberg returns seniors Dan Gaines, Ryan Spain, Adam Ansel and junior Will Emery. Senior Kevin Pfotenhauer and junior Mike Cocking will be running long pole for the Tigers and also the team’s utility man, Danny Johnson, will return in the spring.
DeOliveira and junior Spencer Baker will continue to compete for the goalie position this season. The senior captain said that having two talented goalies is good competition and keeps them playing their best throughout the season.
“Whoever is getting it done will play.”
The Tigers will open up their season away at Washington & Lee on Feb. 19 and their first home game is Saturday Feb. 26, at 1 p.m. against the Sewanee Tigers.
(Ben Groff / firstname.lastname@example.org)