Two in a row for Charlotte…time for a Playoff Push?

During the All-Star break it seemed as if the Charlotte Hounds playoff hopes were already gone.  Fast forward two weeks and all of the sudden the Hounds have beaten the best team in the MLL and gotten revenge against the Denver Outlaws in a 14-11 win.  The Hounds looked like a different team on both sides of the ball against Denver with dominant play and surprising performances from players such as Shamel Bratton.

The Hounds beat the Outlaws on Saturday thanks to a 8 goal 3rd quarter, stellar defensive play and excellent work at the face-off (won 20 out of 26 face-offs).  The Hounds controlled the tempo from the beginning, limiting the former Blue Hen John Grant Jr. to only a couple touches while the Hopkins alum Pierce Bassett made key saves throughout for the Hounds.  Over the past two weeks, the Hounds have given up an average of 11.5 goals per game, which would rank as the 2nd best defense in the league in terms of goals allowed.

Continue reading…

Rival Schools Excel on the Field and in the Classroom

“The Rivalry” dates back to 1884 in a football match up between Lehigh Mountain Hawks and the Lafayette Leopards resulting in pure domination for the Leopards. Since that day the rivalry has spanned across all athletics and academics. The power struggle in the Patriot League stems from these two esteemed institutions. The growing sport of lacrosse has always thrived as a game of strategy, talent and intelligence, where the majority of the schools hold their athletes to a very high standard.To be eligible for the Academic Honor Roll, a student-athlete must earn a 3.20 grade-point average in the spring semester and participate in one of the Patriot League’s winter or spring championship sports.

Both Lehigh (@LehighLacrosse) and Lafayette (@LafayetteMLAX) managed to send 16 players each to this list.

Lehigh sent Cody Triolo, a sophomore Civil Engineering student to the list with an impressive 4.0, while Lafayette sent a record freshman class of 8 players to the Academic Honor Roll list.

Lehigh posted this video the night before the big game:

This year the two teams faced off in April and the game provided nothing less than what the fans wanted. The game ended in an 11-10 thriller win for the Mountain Hawks.

To continue reading click below to see the full list of honorees. Follow this historic rivalry and many more @ConnectLax on twitter!  Continue reading…

Could a Trade push Cannons into the Playoffs?

With the second half of the MLL season upon us, teams are doing everything they can to escape out of the pile-up in 2nd place.  The Boston Cannons are doing just that as they flipped part of their future for some win now talent.  This past week, the Boston Cannons traded a college and supplemental draft pick in 2016 for Charlotte Hounds midfielder Josh Hawkins.  Hawkins, a valuable player on the Loyola 2012 Championship team, brings two-way speed, power and a knack for finding the ball.

Hawkins may not be the biggest name on the stat sheet, but is an intangible player that every team needs.  He had a breakout year with the Hounds last year as he played every game, recording 8 points and 32 ground balls.  He is considered by many a dynamic two-way midfielder who has a very strong defensive sense.  As Cannons head coach John Tucker said, “He is a very athletic midfielder that plays great defense, and puts pressure on opposing teams by pushing transition and causing scoring opportunities.”

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The Cannons currently rank 5th in ground balls and 5th in goals allowed, indicating that a spark on the defensive side of the ball could be the edge they need.  In the first game since the trade, the Cannons beat the Launch in a shootout 19-18, with Hawkins recording 2 ground balls and 2 goals.  Those numbers might not jump out, but his hustle and physicality could be what the already skilled Cannons need to move towards the top of a 5 way-tie in the standings for 2nd place.  With Hawkins joining former Loyola teammate Scott Ratliff in Boston..look for the “Rat” and “Hawk” to make some noise this second half of the season.

Comment below with your opinions on the Hawkins trade.  Is Hawkins the missing piece the Cannons needed?

Women’s Lacrosse Concussions: Should Helmets Be Required?

The debate continues over whether female lacrosse players should be required to wear helmets during games to prevent injury.

Those in favor suggest that it would do nothing but good in preventing serious head injuries amongst hundreds of girls a season. Stick checks and shots can be very dangerous and damaging to an athlete who is only wearing a mouth guard and goggles if struck in the head.

Those against the idea of helmet requirements say that other measurements can be taken in preventing these injuries such as proper teaching and enforcement of the rules. Many suggest that by requiring female lacrosse players to wear helmets, it may bring the style of play to a more aggressive level. Women’s lacrosse is a non-contact sport, so why should there be helmets involved?

Since 2001, US Lacrosse has led and continues to direct numerous initiatives that reduce the risk of head and other injuries for women’s lacrosse players. Those efforts include:

• Development of sport-specific protective eyewear and rules to mandate player use.

• Enrollment of 30,000 coaches in lacrosse-specific educational programs that include appropriate curricula for teaching safe play.

• Enrollment of 10,000 officials in lacrosse-specific educational programs that include rules and mechanics training.

• Investment of nearly $750,000 in research studies that result in recommendations to reduce risk of player injury.

• Rule changes to greater penalize stick checks near the head and other unsafe play.

• Development of a game-specific protective headgear standard through ASTM International, which was approved last month.

These efforts have all contributed greatly in reducing the injury rates in women’s lacrosse over the past decade, as evidenced by the findings in recent injury surveillance studies.

But are these efforts enough?

For more on maximizing player safety in lacrosse, visit uslacrosse.org/safety.

 

Stony Brook Adds Top Transfer

Stony Brook’s 2015 campaign ended in disappointment as the Seawolves fell to the high-powered Albany Great Danes 22-9 in the America East Championship game.  However, with the recent news regarding transfer Zach Oliveri…next year looks promising.

Oliveri, a former Umass Minuteman who just finished his junior season recently announced that he will transfer to Stony Brook and will be granted one year of eligibility.  Stony Brook is already returning 8 starters from last year and now seem to have filled the missing spot of an anchor behind the defense. The Seawolves gave up 10.83 goals per game and their rotating line of goalies had a 43% save percentage, which ranks far outside of the top 50 percentages in NCAA.h8llni72f6e2c1hr

The former high school All-American Oliveri brings serious talent and confidence to the table.  In Oliveri’s second game of his career at Umass he stopped 18 shots against then #4 North Carolina in a 12-11 win.  This past year was highlighted by his 15 save performance against the Tewaaraton award winner and #1 scoring offense in the country, Albany, in a 9-10 loss.  Oliveri finished the 2015 season with a 51% save percentage (41st in NCAA D1) and 10.34 GAA (34th in NCAA D1).  In his career at Umass he had a GAA (goals allowed average) of 9.48 and a 53% save percentage.

Oliveri, who was the starting goalie for USA U-19 gold medal team in 2012, will bring big game experience and higher efficiency between the pipes.  His statistics prove that he will be an upgrade for the Seawolves and could push Stony Brook deep into the NCAA Tournament.

Comment below if you think Oliveri is ready to carry Stony Brook next year.

The MVP for the First Half of 2015 Is….

The first half of the 2015 MLL season is in the books and like every sport at the halfway mark, it’s time to check in on the MVP race.

No I don’t think it’s Paul Rabil or Rob Pannell, the two-headed monster dominating for New York.  It isn’t the two year phenom Jordan Wolf out of Duke University who is tops in the league in points.  Instead, my pick is the man who starts it all for the Lizards, Greg Gurenlian, the Penn State alum.  Before you write me off for picking a guy who has a grand total of 0 points on the season and is a face-off specialist, listen to what he’s doing.

In Gurenlian’s 2014 season when he won the inaugural FOGO of the year, he finished with a 61% win percentage, winning 201-329 face-offs and led the league with 101 ground balls throughout the season.  In 2015 in just HALF the year he already has 105 ground balls and has gone 160-204 on face-offs, which translates to a 78% win percentage.  So in half of the amount of games he has 4 more ground balls than he did all of last year, a 17% higher percentage than the league record last year and is on pace to have 119 more face-off wins. Also, in 2nd place for amount of ground balls on the 2015 season is Brendan Fowler…with 57.  Gurenlian leads the 2nd best ground ball hunter in the league by 48!

Gurenlian is on pace to shatter personal records this season by a mile and could also set historic face-off numbers.  It’s very clear that Gurenlian is giving the Lizards an incredible amount of possessions, helping both sides of the ball to the best record in the MLL.  It’s unlikely for a face-off guy to win MVP, but goals and assists aren’t everything that make up a team…the Beast needs to start earning the respect he deserves.

 

Recruiting Insight with Sacred Heart Head Coach Jon Basti

Lacrosse being both the most attractive aspect of college and also one of the most misunderstood, Sacred Heart’s Coach Jon Basti weighs in on the demands and realities of playing for a Division I college program.

Coach Jon Basti is in his second season as the Sacred Heart men’s lacrosse head coach.

In his first season as head coach, he and the Pioneers went 6-9 and were 4-2 in Northeast Conference play, earning a berth to the NEC Tournament for two seasons in a row.

Being a 2002 graduate of Fairfield University, a member of the Stags’ 1996 and 1997 MAAC championship teams, coaching at Fairfield in the 2005 NCAA tourney and then again with Hartford in 2011, Coach Basti understands first-hand what it takes to compete and more importantly, be successful at the Division I level. With that said, we sat down with Coach Basti to hear about what to expect when aiming to play and study at the Division I level.

1. What advice do you have for players interested in Division I schools?

Look beyond lacrosse, lacrosse is a huge commitment and there are so many options available now. Your decision should be more about the school, academics and the atmosphere, not solely your lacrosse experience. Furthermore, you’ve got to love lacrosse, Division I is the best full-time job you’ll ever have, but a full-time job nonetheless. It is a battle and you have to understand that you may not see the field the first year or two and that you’ve got to forge through and take your licks because everyone surrounding you is just as talented. Do your research and make sure to have questions for the coach when speaking with them; one of the most important things as a coach is players and parents having questions about the program and the school to ensure both are the right fit.

2. What is the best way for players to get on your recruiting radar?

Email. I read every email that comes across my inbox and so does every other coach. Regardless of how old you are, make sure to include your highlight film and your schedule so that we know where to see you play live and when. Going to the prospect days of schools you love guarantees you being seen by the coaches of that school compared to going to one showcase. In regards to knowing the details of the prospect day such as, is that prospect day full for your position, simply reach out to the coach or contact listed for that camp / clinic. Regardless of your age, you are allowed to reach out to the coach and we can respond, as long as it pertains to the clinic only, not recruiting. One last tip is to include your number, year, position, and team in your email signature, it’s good habit and also useful for coaches.

3. What type of players do you primarily look for, a raw athlete or refined lacrosse player?

Depends on the year and what guys we have on the team already. We recruit very slowly to ensure each player is the right fit for our family and minimize the chances of transfers or a player not being successful. The biggest thing for us is consistent compete level, a player who keeps on fighting. We look for the “battle level” of a player, what does he do in the weight room, how is he in the locker room, how does he handle the difficult situations versus the easy situations. We want a grinder, regardless of how talented the player is because someone who is a hard-worker has developed good tendencies, which are molded over years of dedication.

4. What areas of player development would you recommend players focus on to elevate their game?

Three things: First and foremost, stick skills because we will teach you a system. Practice playing in tight spaces, picking up ground balls, communication and moving / focusing off-ball. I can’t stress enough the fundamentals are what will help to strengthen you as a player, the wall is your best friend and the number one way to improve your stick skills.

Number two and maybe even more importantly is watch Division I lacrosse, watch all the different styles of teams and players. Watch a Denver-style, Cornell-style, Albany-style, every school you possibly can so that you can see which team matches your style of play. In addition to watching each team, find a player that plays like you play and that you can emulate. Think to yourself, “this is a player that is similar to me that I want to be like.” Not every player can be a Mikey Powell or a Paul Rabil, not because of lack of talent, but more so the style of play is just different. If you are a shifty player, find a Division I shifty player that you can follow, if you are a big, strong dodger, find a big, strong dodger.

Lastly, make sure to maintain your consistency on the field. We can tell when someone is playing hard or just “going through the motions.” No matter who you’re playing, give it your best because you never know who is watching.

5. How has the accelerated recruiting landscape impacted your approach to recruiting? 

For us, it is somewhat of a myth since we recruit so slowly, but for certain programs it is very real. Certain players are looking for certain schools and that works to our benefit. A lot of players find their friends committing to schools and they get nervous, but again, we go very slowly to make sure they fit into our family and minimize the chances of them transferring halfway through their career. Making sure that a player has done their due diligence also helps with combating the early recruiting fears that some people have. If you’ve done your research, you know that there are plenty of options for programs to play great lacrosse at. Your decision to go to college is the most important decision of your life because it sets you up for the next forty years.

Early recruiting is what it is; you shouldn’t feel pressured and have to remain patient. Researching the majors, types of student body at the school, what internships are available, the alumni base, what study halls are available, what the city is like (country or urban), all of these things are just as, if not more important than the lacrosse aspect.

ConnectLAX is a third party recruiting service and not affiliated with or endorsed by Jon Basti or Sacred Heart University

Lacrosse Survey: Why 5,000 recruits in 2015 chose their travel team and how it’s helped with recruiting

We surveyed 5,000 recruits to learn what they’re looking for in a travel team and where they received the most or least help in terms of getting recruited. The survey was anonymous. It included 10 questions with the final two as open text responses (questions listed below). ~85% of respondents were graduating years 2016-2018.

Our suggestions / annotations based on feedback are in brackets.

Player development and the quality of coaching staff were most important for recruits. This is followed by tournaments attended. Roster size and cost / dues were only considered somewhat important. [Detailed coach bios on the team website.]

Travel coaches can see the full summary of this survey by joining our linkedin group “Lacrosse Travel Coaches (No Spam)” here.

Recruiting Insight from Coach Blair of CSU-Pueblo

The art of recruiting is just that, and art. It takes a special kind of artist to build a lacrosse program from scratch and at CSU-Pueblo, Coach Blair is doing just that. With having a brand new program, the approach to recruiting is a little different than seasoned programs where in a new program, finding players that will mesh together and build a strong base is crucial.

Coach Sean Blair Blair comes to CSU-Pueblo with a solid resume of not only playing and coaching in national tournaments, but also assisting in starting a new lacrosse program at an NCAA institution from scratch.

Prior to CSU-Pueblo, Coach Blair served as the assistant coach and defensive coordinator for Hope College when it began its first season of lacrosse in 2013 and finished with an 8-5 record. That first year, Coach Blair and the Hope lacrosse squad also secured a berth in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament and ending the season with a fourth-place finish.

Though building a new program may have a slightly different angle to that of a veteran program, the same themes in the type of player sought after, how to effectively communicate with the coach and also what is expected from the player.

What advice do you have for players interested in DII schools?

First and foremost, communication is vital. It is important to have your priorities at the forefront and know what it is you’re looking for not only in the lacrosse program, but also the school. It is also important to keep in mind that life is your resume, in other words, everything you put on social media reflects you as a person, player and student. Be mindful of what you post and what coaches can see because they may unpleasantly surprised with what they find. Grades are top of the totem pole because coaches want to see that you can get it done in the classroom. It is a big jump going from high school to college in terms of academics because now time management becomes much more prevalent. You don’t have someone watching over you all the time making sure you wake up for class or get your homework done on time, so attention to detail and responsibility become increasingly more valuable.

What is the best way for players to get on your radar?

Contacting us directly is the best way to get on our radar. Think of your highlight film as a cover letter for a job, it’s the first line of contact between you and us. Including your summer schedule is also very crucial because if we like what we see on film, we’re going to want to watch you play live. Show us that you’ve done your research on the school and not just the lacrosse program. Your decision to attend CSU-Pueblo goes beyond lacrosse and is going to be the first step in moving towards a life-long career and knowing that you’ve researched our academics helps us tremendously.

What type of players do you look for–raw athletes or refined lacrosse players?

Being a new program, we are looking for role-players. We don’t necessarily look for a specific “type” of player, but more of someone who for example, we know can be tenacious and versatile on the wing of a face-off, or someone who will be able to take control of the defense and lead his teammates on the field. Above all, we are looking not so much for the superstar, but more of the player who has strong abilities coupled with the desire to get better. There is a delicate balance between a player with natural ability and the player who has natural ability and a strong work ethic. Showing us that you’re willing to put in that extra time says a lot about what kind of player and person you to us. Stephen Curry didn’t become as smooth as he is for the Golden State Warriors by not putting in extra work when nobody is watching.

What areas of development would you recommend players focus on to compete at the Division II level?

Play, play, play. The more you get on the field against different types and styles of players, the more well-rounded you’ll become. Though wall ball is fantastic and helps to hone in your stick skills, being on the field and experience an array of different situations and different players helps you to grow substantially, especially if you’re playing at an elite level. Play field, play box, play 6 v 6, the more variety, the better.

How has the recruiting landscape impacted your approach to recruiting?

For us being a new program, it really hasn’t affected us substantially. We understand that it is a growing trend and that other sports also do it, but we are just mindful to position ourselves so that we leave the opportunity for all players to have a chance to attend CSU-Pueblo, from players earlier in their recruiting process to late-bloomers and transfers.

ConnectLAX is a third party recruiting service and not affiliated with or endorsed by Sean Blair or CSU-Pueblo.

Recruiting Insight from Coach Tierney of Hofstra

Choosing a college and corresponding lacrosse program is no easy task for players and families. If you base your decision on the fact that you look good in the school’s orange and blue colors or the fact that your girlfriend or boyfriend are attending that school, then you’re doomed. There are many more important factors to consider such as: major, cost, social environment, class size, geography, athletic commitment expectations and travel schedule. To begin the search for a 40-year investment, in other words, college, players and parents need to be realistic about which college and lacrosse program best sets up the student-athlete for long-term success.

When looking for the best advice, it’s helpful to speak to someone who has been through it all, but can also see things from your perspective. Hofstra head coach Seth Tierney is that person. He has been the head coach since August 2006. In 2015, he entered his ninth season at Hofstra and has led the Pride to 73 victories, a 2008 Colonial Athletic Association championship, the 2009, 2011 and 2014 CAA regular season titles along with berths in four consecutive NCAA Championships from 2008 through 2011.

Before he was a successful head coach, he had a historic career at John’s Hopkins between 1988 through 1991 and served as team captain as a senior. He helped lead Hopkins to the NCAA Tournament all four years, including an appearance in the 1989 NCAA title game. He received Hopkins’ Turnbull-Reynolds Award as a senior, which goes to the player most exemplifying leadership and sportsmanship.

As icing on the cake of experience and understanding, Coach Tierney also has both a son and a daughter who are in the midst of the lacrosse recruiting process. We had a chance to hear from Coach Tierney about his best pieces of advice on how to keep your “eye on the prize” and not only be smart about your college search, but more importantly, realistic.

What advice do you have for players interested in Division I schools?

Players need to understand that playing DI is similar to a full-time job. It’s easy to be wowed by the cover and glitz and glamor of Division I, but on the inside there is a lot of hard work, dedication and early mornings. If DI is on your mind, it’s best to instill a hard work ethic early on because as more and more talented players are emerging from different parts of the country (and Canada), work-ethic is becoming more of a differentiating factor.

What advice do you have for players entering the recruiting world?

Players in 9th and 10th grade are going to have different questions than players in 11th and 12th grade. What is important is to know what you’re looking for when you’re searching for schools and lacrosse programs. Understanding which majors are offered and how those apply to you and not just studying something to fill credits. Also know where you stand at an academic and athletic level and what level of commitment you are ready for, both in the classroom and on the field. It is important to be aware of what environment will set you up best for success. Do you focus better in a classroom with less than 20 students or are you more comfortable in a larger, lecture hall style classroom. Does the warm weather distract you or are you completely miserable in the winter. The same goes for lacrosse; do you want to be a part of a team where you are expected to commit a lot of time to the team and winning or is less demanding level of commitment something more fitting for you. There is no right or wrong, it’s just what works best for you. Finding the school and lacrosse program that suits who you are as a player and a person is what will make your college experience that much more enjoyable and also set you up for success later in life.

What type of players do you look for and where?

We find players both at high school games and showcases. We take into consideration the talent and competitiveness of each of the teams at these games and showcases and try to find when players are competing at their highest level. Finding a player who is a hard-worker is very important and that is the first question we will ask the club or high school coach. Not only do we want to know how a player performs in a game, but what they’re like at practice. Do they go hard and push their teammates to improve or are they lazy and simply rely on their natural talent. Hard work is instilled at a young age and no matter how talented a player is they need a strong work ethic to accompany that talent to stay ahead of the curve. It’s sometimes difficult to tell exactly how talented a player is at a young age, but one thing that can be seen is work ethic.

When recruiting, what defines a “Hofstra” player for you?

Hofstra players are a unique brand of guy. They are the kind of player that will do anything for a ground ball, beat the opponent to the hole and always looking to out-work someone. We recruit hard-working talent that wants to play this brand of lacrosse and not only be a part of a team, but more importantly is to be a part of a brotherhood. Having that brotherhood and leadership is what wins games and makes teams successful, knowing that you can rely on the guy next to you to do his job and that he is going to do the same for you.

How has the accelerated recruiting landscape impacted your approach to recruiting?

It has its positives and negatives. We have gotten great players both early and late in the recruiting process. The key is to keep all of your options open and be willing to adapt your recruiting “formula.” No one formula works and the door must be kept open at all times because as a coach, you never know who is going to be a late-bloomer or on the other side, be a talented young player who decides not to work as hard and fall behind the pack. We want to make sure that every player we recruit is that “Hofstra guy” so that players aren’t transferring or getting cut, because outside of lacrosse, that affects players families.

Are there any last pieces of advice for players and families you’d like to share?

I would like to wish everyone the best of luck in the process and to stress on doing your homework on the school, the lacrosse program, and most importantly yourself. Know what kind of student, player and socialite you are and once you’ve become realistic about all of those, your chances of finding a school and a lacrosse program you’re happy with will significantly increase. Make sure you’re on a team that is going to the right tournaments for you. Dive deeper into what the program is about; who is coaching, how do they run practices? Once you understand what type of player and person you are, it becomes much easier to narrow down colleges.

ConnectLAX is a third party recruiting service and not affiliated with or endorsed by Hostra University or Seth Tierney.