The University’s Men’s Lacrosse kicks off their season this upcoming Saturday against Emmanuel College. The Lions finished last season with a record of 7-7 while Emmanuel finished at 3-10. Two time defending national champions Limestone come to town the following Saturday on Feb. 20 followed by a number of tough non-conference games “I am looking forward to our non-conference schedule this year, in particular our games against Limestone, Pfeiffer, and Colorado Mesa,” said Head Coach Brad Jorgensen.
The Lions will finish the season with a competitive Sunshine State schedule. Along with Saint Leo University, the rest of the SSC is comprised of Tampa, Florida Southern, Lynn, Rollins, and Florida Tech. 2016 is anticipated to be the most tightly contested season since lacrosse’s inception into the Sunshine State Conference.
“The competition within the conference is a good thing, the parity amongst the lacrosse teams is now on par with the other sports within the conference. It is also a positive that we will have five games every season that can help boost our strength of schedule,” said Jorgensen.
The Lions enter 2016 with a veteran lead roster. The Lions return 77% of last season’s scoring output, including last season’s top three scorers. The Lions’ offense will be led by last year’s leading scorer Dylan Yonts who had an impressive 38 goals and 10 assists last year, with the 38 goals tying a single season record. At the midfield the Lions will be led by fellow seniors Matt Weller and Chad Marino. Freshmen Charlie Kurtenbach, Justin Robinson, and Pete Bashar are expected to make an immediate impact on the offensive end.
The Lions also return a great deal of talent and experience on the defensive end of the field. This year’s defensive unit has a lot of experience coming back, the unit is expected to have a number of players seeing significant playing time.
“This is a very deep defensive unit that is really starting to gel,” said Jorgensen.
Senior goalkeeper Dave Moore and faceoff specialist Will Cothron have been vital cogs over their tenure at the University.
“These two guys have been as solid as it gets throughout their four years,” said Coach Jorgensen.
Moore is second in school history in saves with 370. Cothron holds the school record for single season face-off percentage at 70% which was tops in the nation, and the single season record with 119 ground balls. Moore has been an all-conference performer since his freshman year, and Cothron is poised to have a big year after battling with injuries throughout the 2015 season.
The Lions will have plenty of opportunities to prove themselves this season as they play four preseason nationally ranked teams, including the aforementioned Limestone Saints who are pre-season number one.
“It is always exciting to get a shot at the champs, especially at our house,” said Jorgensen.
The Lions will also go on the road to take on nationally ranked conference rivals Tampa on April 1 and Florida Tech on April 15. Last year, Saint Leo University lost six games by two goals or less.
“We were only a few goals from contending for a spot in the NCAA tournament, if we can learn to be on the other side of those games we will have a very successful season,” said Jorgensen.
The University enters the 2016 season tied for fifth based on the SSC preseason coaches’ poll, but despite that the Lions have high aspirations. 2016 is a year in which every team in the conference has a legitimate chance to contend for a SSC Championship. The Lions have won two conference championships while a part of the Deep South conference, but will be looking to hoist their first ever SSC championship in 2016.