NEW LONDON, Conn. – It will be unchartered water for the Coast Guard men's lacrosse team this season as they played their final season at the club level and will be elevated to NCAA status and will compete in the New England Women and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) for the upcoming season.
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The Bears final season was the most successful in the school's club lacrosse history as the team went 11-5 overall and 3-1 the Pioneers Collegiate Lacrosse League (PCLL) winning the program's first ever Pioneers Collegiate Lacrosse League Division II championships to earn an automatic bid the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA) national tournament for the second straight year.
Coast Guard looks to replace Eric Schmid and Stuart Carley, who accounted for over 40 percent of the teams goals from last season. Senior midfielder captain Patrick Dreiss looks to shoulder the load as he is the team's top returning goal scorer with 23 goals and 23 assists.
Also looking to make a significant impact on the offensive end are junior Justin Huemme, freshman Matt Huemme, and junior Trent Moon. Sophomore Blaise Curtis will also rotate with Moon between midfield and offense. Not only are they promising goal scorers this group will also look to make it difficult for opposing defenses to clear the ball out of their own end.
"Dreiss and Curtis both have high Lacrosse IQ. They see the field well and move well off the ball. Much of our offense will run through them," said first year head coach Ray LaForte.
The Bears do have stability in the faceoff circle as senior captain Nick Chicoine is coming off a season where he won 227-316 face offs he took in the PCLL. Chicoine will also look to collect a large number of ground balls and keep possession in the Bears favor.
Joining Chicoine, Dreiss, and Curtis through the midfield will be juniors Robert McKenna and Louis DePaolis. Both McKenna and DePaolis are strong, athletic players that will not only be able to hold and distribute the ball on offense but will also be stingy on the ball defenders.
Junior Kyle Carosotto will be valuable for the Coast Guard midfield on the defensive end. Carosotto is another power player who has been solid through early season training and will be a consistent player for the Bears on the field.
Sophomore Quin Hatchcock has also shown great improvement over last season and will look to log valuable minutes for Coast Guard while senior Zach Wells will be an important part of the Bears transition play.
Junior Jeff Bors, sophomore Nicholas Mombello, and junior Mason Totri will see the bulk of the time on the defensive end. Bors, Mombello and Totri all help keep a strong defensive shape and will give up very few easy goals.
Freshman Kurt Caminske along with sophomore Ryan Carpenter will both be competing for playing time this season as both players bring different strengths to the team and have played well during early season training.
"I am optimistic for the upcoming season," said LaForte "We have a number of strong, athletic players who are excited to get the season underway. We are all counting down the days to our home opener against Norwich on March 21st."
Freshman that could have an immediate impact on the upcoming season is John Stastny as a long pole midfielder, Alec Groff as a defensive midfielder, and defensemen John Behnke. Ben Gonski will find time up top playing on the crease and will look to be a goal scoring option off the bench.
"The team has come together well and has bought into the being a varsity team," commented LaForte on the upcoming season. "Our team motto is bottom up, top down and our team philosophy is a palms down approach meaning no blaming anyone and internalizing all mistake to yourself. We can all get better and I believe we will."
Coast Guard opens their season on the road against arch rival Merchant Marine on February 28th at 1:00pm. The team's first home game will be on March 21st against Norwich at 1:00 pm.