by Jac Coyne | MCLA.us
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- With many of the slots going to the same teams every year, Bridgewater State brought a breath of fresh air to the 2016 MCLA National Championships powered by Under Armour. The Bears exited in the first round at the hands of eventual champion St. Thomas, depriving fans of getting a good sense of Pat Welsh's crew.
Would you like to get to know the Bears better? Well, grab a sandwich and a comfy chair as you take this 38 minute deep dive into BSU's run-up to the tourney.
The Bears will certainly be the favorites to repeat in the PCLL, even without the services of clutch scorer Andrew DaSilva due to graduation. BSU will be aided by the return of All-American netminder Joe Marmion. Whether they can elevate the PCLL's national status is another question.
The Northeast's finest have a combined 1-9 record at the national tournament -- the one win coming from Briarcliffe (#RIP) in 2011 -- and haven't been particularly competitive. Welsh has created a winning culture in southeastern Massachusetts, so good things could be in store.
Team: Bridgewater State
2016 Record: 7-4
Conference record/finish: 4-0 / PCLL Champions
Finish at Nationals: First round
Head Coach: Patrick Welsh (3rd year)
Steve Hogan – He was a faceoff middie and captain, earning second team All-American honors and first team all-PCLL. Hogan won 76 percent of his draws along with 66 GBs and 14 goals. Hogan was the heart and soul of the team and could be counted on to play 30-40 minutes a game. His dominance at the faceoff X meant that BSU could control the pace of play.
Andrew DaSilva – The attackman earned honorable mention All-American honors and was first team all-PCLL after scoring 30 goals and dishing 12 assists. When the Bears needed a goal, DaSilva was the go-to scorer. He single-handedly kept BSU in the WPI game, scoring the four goals the team had through three-quarters of the contest. He added his fifth and sixth goals in 5 minutes for the come-from-behind, 10-9 win.
Patrick Egan – He grabbed 46 ground balls from his midfield position. Egan defined what it means to be a BSU lacrosse player. He led by example in the immeasurable aspects of the game. The intangibles he brought, along with the fact that he was the very definition of the term “punt return clear,” was a key to much of the Bears' success.
Joe Marmion -- The junior goalie was an HM All-American last spring while also earning PCLL Defensive POY honors. He posted 60.0 save percentage along with 24 GB’s and one assist. Marmion is a leader by example. His solid play in goal kept BSU in many early season games in 2016 and allowed the offense to find its identity.
Nate Rock -- The senior captain was a second team all-PCLL pick after scoring 18 goals, dishing out four assists and gobbling up 37 GBs. Rock is the hardest working player on the team and a true leader. BSU will look for him to breakout offensively his senior year and set the emotional tone.
Griffin Girard – The senior captain swingman (A/M) scored seven goals along with three dimes. One of BSU's most talented offensive players, Girard is expected to generate offense from up top and take on the responsibility of being the leader of the midfield corps.
Best Moment of 2016
Reaching the MCLA National Tournament and winning the Pioneer Collegiate Lacrosse League Championships for the first time in program history were big milestones. However the best moment of 2016 was our come from behind 10-9 win over Worcester Polytechnic Institute. We had a 5 goal deficit with less than 6 minutes remaining in the game. We had begun the spring 0-3 in MCLA play and our season was truly in the balance. It was this improbable victory that spurred the team on to 10 straight wins, the PCLL D2 Championship and our trip to Southern California.
Biggest Challenge Facing Bridgewater in 2017
In 2015 we missed going to the National Tournament by one goal in the final minute of the PCLL championship game. We determined at the start of fall practice in 2015 that our singular goal was to win that final game and represent our league in SoCal. Our biggest challenge in 2017 will be finding our team's identity and continuing to build upon the program’s successes of the past two seasons.
Why the Bears will be better in 2017
Our entire 2016 defensive corps, including the PCLL Defensive Player of the Year in goal, will be returning intact for 2017. We have depth and experience on defense and will rely on them early in the season to keep us competitive while our offense gels as a unit. Fortunately the team’s success over the past several years has led to tremendous interest in our program, resulting in the addition of a number of new players that will push our veterans for playing time. This competition should result in a much stronger and more focused team.
This year we are challenging ourselves early in the season with games against good D-I programs and nationally-ranked D-II teams. It is important to the long-term success of the program to develop a culture of excellence. To that end, we’ve raised our expectations and have seen our players and coaching staff work harder through the summer and fall, both as a team and individually, to get better. We believe that this commitment to excellence will ultimately allow us to attain and exceed all of our team goals.