Men's lacrosse looks to a fresh start
Last year, when the Norwich men's lacrosse team lost all of its conference games, finished last and ended the season with a losing record, is old news for the Cadets.
This spring, the majority of the roster is freshmen, but that doesn't stop the Norwich men's lacrosse team from working hard and believing anything is possible.
"We have a really good team this year, despite having a lot of freshman. We also have some really good upperclassmen," said Jordan Lewis, 22, a junior communications major from New Orleans, La.
Coming off a losing season is tough for any team. Despite its record from last season, the Cadets have big dreams.
"Our goals and dreams are just like every team in the country: we want to win our conference, win a conference title, and play in the NCAA tournament," said Jesse Mattson, 25, a communications major from Essex Junction, Vt.
"We have a lot of freshmen on the team but we are going to be pretty good. Coach Anderson did a good job in recruiting for this year," said Caleb Fournier, 18, a criminal justice major from Sabattus, Maine.
This year's roster has 19 out of 34 players who are freshmen, plus eight transfer students. None of the returning players have a guaranteed spot in the lineup.
"The intensity level in practice is high every day. We are all competing for a spot to play," said Mattson.
"I didn't get to practice because I injured my foot. But from being a spectator, practice was pretty intense and our goal of making the playoffs looks attainable," said Judd Baggett, 18, a criminal justice major from Newtown, Conn.
With the pre-season winding down, the Cadets have been logging in their practice hours and waiting to see what this team is made of in their opening game March 6 at Anna Maria College.
"Practice can get a little hectic. We have a lot to accomplish in so little time and with so many players it takes a lot of planning from the coaching staff. Next week I look forward to seeing our progression," Anderson said.
"Coach Anderson is pushing us real hard in practice. The freshmen we have are catching on pretty quickly and bringing the intensity to every practice," Lewis said.
Although the Cadets are optimistic, they have a challenging schedule ahead of them. Their talent and team chemistry will be challenged when they play top-ranked Springfield College in early April.
"We want to focus on the quality of lacrosse. Last year's team was learning the game and this year our guys know the game better," said head coach Neal Anderson.
"We have a talented team, and in order for us to win we have to buy into coach's system and come together as a team," said Arron Canarelli, 18, a sports medicine major New Hartford, N.Y.
"We are going to face some tough teams this year. Springfield College is ranked in the top 20 and number one in the Pilgrim League," said Paul Mastronardi, 19, a criminal justice major from Bayport, N.Y.
"Springfield is a great team but we have to focus on Norwich lacrosse and continue to come to practice every day and get better," Lewis said.
Eight is this year's magic number for the Cadets. The team is confident that their offense can produce enough shots in order to score eight points a game on a consistent basis.
"Just like in basketball, a team aims for a certain score and if they surpass that score they feel like the game is theirs as long as the defense can hold the opposing team to under the score they aimed for" Anderson said.
"Magic eight is our goal and Coach uses that as motivation in practice to keep the team going," Lewis said.
For every three shots on goal, one scoresaccording to Coach Anderson. So in shooting for eight goals a game, the Cadets have to average about 24 or more shots a game while holding their opponent to less.
So far the Cadets are very confident that their goals can be reached heading into their matchup against Anna Maria.
"This is going to be an exciting season for our team. We hope that the student body comes out and supports us," Lewis said.
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