by Jac Coyne | MCLA.us
DURHAM, N.H. -- Under the watchful eye of Ben Clark, the New Hampshire men's lacrosse program has been steadily moving back into a position of making the national tournament -- something they haven't done in 15 years (2002).
Know what else Coach Clark has been doing in Durham? Somebody got a new GoPro and drone this offseason! (Rated: PG-13)
UNH Lacrosse Blue/White Scrimmage 2016 #unh #lacrosse #mcla
A video posted by Ben Clark (@bcclark303) on
The electronics upgrade will hopefully help the Wildcats solve Pioneer Collegiate League League rivals Boston College and UConn, which are the two biggest culprits in keeping UNH from reaching its ultimate goal.
The margin is very small, however, as the Wildcats lost to BC, 12-10, on the road and actually beat UConn in the regular season finale, 10-9, before bowing to the Huskies in the PCLL semifinals a week later, 11-10, in overtime.
There are some holes to fill, especially on attack, but many of the pieces are in place for UNH to scratch its 15-year itch.
Team: New Hampshire
2016 Record: 8-3
Conference record/finish: 4-1/ PCLL semifinalist
Head Coach: Ben Clark (7th year)
Brendan Maloney -- He was the PCLL Offensive Player of the Year from his attack position as well as a third team All-American. Brendan (along with Tom LoMedico) shaped the character and attitude of UNH lacrosse for the better part of three years. He was always a threat to score, but his ability to win ground balls and his ferocity in the riding game were what set him apart.
Tom LoMedico -- The captain was a first team all-PCLL attackman and earned HM All-American kudos. Similar to Brendan, his leadership and willingness to do whatever was best for the team are the first things that come to mind with LoMedico. He was a threat to score from either side, as he could shoot 90-plus MPH righty or lefty, and his goals always seemed to come in the biggest moments.
Matt Markowitz -- The Wildcats goalie earned HM all-PCLL honors. After enduring three years backing up exceptional goaltenders, he finally had his chance to take the reins last year and he excelled. His biggest strength was in the clearing game, which is one of the most important parts of the game at UNH. He was always calm and confident, and he commanded tremendous respect from his teammates.
Taylor Maniatty -- The senior captain was a first team all-PCLL midfielder and third team All-American after scoring 24 goals along with six assists. He's a great scorer and exceptional athlete. Maniatty's leadership presence is second to none, and his ability to take over a game will be a big reason to watch UNH in 2017.
Sam Stanton -- A second team all-PCLL middie after notching 16 goals and 16 dimes. Stanton's ability to score is obvious to anyone who has seen him play, but his ability to see the extra pass makes him especially dangerous.
John Ahonen -- The sophomore long-stick middie is a great athlete who is relentless on ground balls, good in the clearing game, and loves doing the little things. He will set the tone for the defense.
Best moment of the 2016 season
Our win against Utah Valley was a big one, not only because UVU is a great team, but the circumstances surrounding our travel made it particularly challenging. Canceled flights, a game the night before against Utah, and being halfway across the country set up a few easy excuses if we lost the game, but we showed tremendous mental toughness in surviving UVU. On a side note, that whole trip was a pleasure - the hospitality shown by Utah, UVU and BYU was amazing.
Biggest challenge facing UNH in 2017
Although we have shown no shortage of it in the past few years, my answer to this question will always be mental toughness. It's just so important to understand the ebb and flow of the game, and to stay in the moment and trust your skills. I always worry about conveying that to the team. I am, however, more optimistic than I've been in a long time on that front. The past few senior classes have understood that point so well that it's really changed the culture of the team, and it's nice to see it being infused in the freshman class.
Why the Wildcats will be better in 2017
The team has been getting better and better, and there's no reason to think it will stall out this year. We have exceptional leadership, and there is competition at nearly every position, which I believe will bring out the best in everyone.
Our overall theme is that we are swinging for the fences this year by putting together the most challenging schedule we've played in a long time. Everyone on the team, from the coaches down to the rookies, are dedicated to making this a year to remember.