GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Florida men's lacrosse team announced four captains for the upcoming 2020 campaign.
Senior defensive midfielder Hayden Parks and senior attackman Kerry Thomas along with junior defensemen Parker Beeson and Mike Connelly have been given the “C” by their teammates.
Following the departure of both 2019 captains, Florida spent its fall shaping a new team identity. Determining which players would carry the weight of formal leadership was one of many critical exercises in setting the stage for the spring.
“I’m a firm believer in the old axiom: ‘Good teams are led by coaches, great teams are led by players,’” said Florida coach Garrett Hanrahan. “What excites me most about this captain group is that all four of these guys looked at what happened last season, said 'We can be so much better,’ and took action starting with themselves. Each one showed up to fall ball in better shape, with better stick skills, and playing the game at a higher level.”
Thomas is coming off a career-year where the New York product scored nine goals and recorded 13 assists. With the loss of two of the team’s leading goal-scorers from last season, Thomas looks to prove himself as an elite goal scorer and playmaker in 2020.
Parks, a Tampa product by way of Tennessee, took his game to the next level last season by exceeding expectations on the ground. Parks upgraded his ground ball ability off the faceoff wing and in transition. His hard-hitting style will surely cause issues for opposing teams looking to cross the midline easily.
“Hayden has always been an elite athlete, and he has improved as a lacrosse player every year since joining our program,” Hanrahan said. “He’s carrying on a tradition of great d-mid play here at Florida, not just with his own play but with his mentorship of the underclassmen who will continue on after he leaves. It’s reassuring to any coach knowing you have a d-mid you can trust completely to do his job and to get a stop late in a game.”
The tag-team duo of Connelly, a third team all-SELC defenseman in 2019, and Beeson will be trouble for attackmen looking for the easy 1-2 play. Connelly’s ability to hide his stick and deflect balls in the passing lane is a talent few players possess. Beeson’s high lacrosse IQ will play an important role in ensuring the Gators remain disciplined in their off-ball defense.
“Connelly and Beeson are two of the best communicators on the team,” Hanrahan said. “Connelly has a nose for causing timely turnovers and Beeson is the kind of back-pipe anchor you want corralling your d-mids and protecting the middle. Best of all, both guys absolutely bring it at practice.”