The Coast Guard men's lacrosse team enters their second season at the varsity level with high hopes for the 2016 season. The Bears return 14 players from last season's team that went 4-10 overall and 2-5 in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) play. Coast Guard brings in 18 talented freshmen who will be looking to make an immediate impact on the men's lacrosse program.
The weather has already cooperated better this season for the Bears as they have been able to practice outside and get a better feel for game like conditions earlier in the year.
"We really could not get to any situational lacrosse until spring break last season," commented second year head coach Ray LaForte on the better weather during preseason. "Being outside, the team had been able to settle in better."
Starting on the defensive side of the ball, Coast Guard has depth in the goalie position as sophomore Kurt Caminske returns from last season registering three of teams four wins and posting a 9.99 goals against average with 74 saves in 10 appearances.
Joining Caminske will be freshmen Trey Johnson and Connor Hailey.
"We clearly have three college level goalies for the upcoming season," added LaForte on the trio of goalies.
Sophomore John Behnke is the only returning starter for the Coast Guard defense from last season. He will be joined by two freshmen, Ryland Chapman and Mike McCaslin to make up the starting back line. Freshman Tom Bleifuss will split time between defense and being a long stick midfielder.
"We are talented, but young. They (the back three) will wind up playing against guys with a lot of college experience, so they will need to be able to learn quickly," said LaForte about the defense.
Senior Jeff Bors will highlight the Bears defensive midfield, moving up from defense, for the 2016 season. Bors has good control with the long stick through the midfield last season and was third on the team last season in ground balls (34) and first in caused turnovers (13).
"The whole reason we moved Jeff (Bors) up to long stick middie is because he is the best guy with the ball on ground," said LaForte about Bors.
Joining Bors in the defensive midfield is senior captain Kyle Carosotto who was second on the team with 38 groundballs and senior Robert McKenna who will be sliding into a more defensive role this season.
Coast Guard will look to replace all conference face off specialist Nick Chicoine from last season with several new faces. Freshmen Colin Cashin has shown great speed in the circle while freshmen Jeff Porter and Matt Nagle will also take face offs this season.
The Bears have been lucky enough to have Major League Lacrosse (MLL) player, Adam Rand working with the team this season. Rand has been one of the top face off specialist in both NCAA and MLL history.
Through the attacking midfield, the Bears will have a mixture of young and old as senior Justin Huemme and brother, sophomore Matt Huemme will be joined by sophomore Alec Groff, 2015 Coast Guard lacrosse rookie of the year, freshmen Anthony Wyler and Benner Guertsen. Justin Huemme was second team all conference last season leading Coast Guard with 22 goals, seven assists and 29 points, while Matt Huemme had 13 goals, six assists and 19 points.
Wyler comes in as one of the top players from Maryland playing at The Boys' Latin School and will be another scoring option in the midfield for the Bears. Guertsen is a large, athletic body with great awareness in the midfield and he will force defenses to make matchup decisions.
The Coast Guard attack will see a number of contributors. Junior Blaise Curtis has had an excellent preseason while senior Trent Moon has improved immensely since last season. Freshman Jack Pope will join Curtis and Moon as a scoring threat early on in his career. Freshmen Cole Hudson and Ian Logan will also be contributors, getting runs at attack.
Coach LaForte also spoke highly of his senior class, helping bridge the gap between the large freshmen class and the veteran group. Senior Louis DePaolis has been a go to guy for many, if not all, of his teammates.
"The spiritual leader of our team is Lou DePaolis," commented Coach LaForte. "Whether he could play basketball or not you would want him on the basketball team, whether he could play football or not you would want him on the football team. He is a magnetic personality among his peers."
When asked about the team captain (Justin Huemme and Carosotto), LaForte said, "Carosotto and Huemme are an ionizing group of captain. They have opened the door for 18 freshmen to show up, feel welcome and contribute. Without their ability to surround the group, we would be in trouble. They are really good captains."
The Bears looks to blend a strong veteran upper class with a talented group of freshman who will be in the hunt at the end of the season for a postseason berth. Coast Guard opens their season on February 24th when they host Becker College in nonconference action.