Feb. 6, 2009

History accompanies the UDM men’s lacrosse team on Saturday as the Titans open their newly established program by facing Ohio State in Columbus. Game time is set for noon and will be played indoors at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

Fans can click the link on top of the page to watch the game live with a paid subscription on the OSU website.

Ohio State was 11-6 a year ago, advancing to the second of the NCAA Tournament. They were also 4-1 in the Great Western Lacrosse League last season, a conference that is in its final year of existence, and will move into the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) next year.

Detroit was 1-1 during the fall exhibition season downing Adrian, 10-9, before falling to host Wittenberg, 7-5. Last week, UDM defeated MSU, 12-3, in a pre-season tune-up.

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Detroit enters its first year of varsity lacrosse as an independent in 2009. While starting a program from scratch is never easy, head coach Matt Holtz has been busy for more then a year building the team to a tune of 27 players who will wear the red, white and blue in its inaugural campaign. Holtz, the 2007 CCLA Coach of the Year while at the helm of the Michigan State club program, brings an enthusiasm and passion to the team and is ready to get the Titan program started.

“There is going to be a lot of ups and downs, but nothing can be better then to have the challenge of building the Detroit program,” said Holtz. “We have a solid group of players built around some transfers who have a few years of college lacrosse in them as well as a talented freshmen class that we feel will improve throughout the season and their careers.”

Attack
The Titan attack will mostly lie on the shoulders of senior Kevin Demorest and junior Pat O’Shea. Demorest, one of the three UDM captains, has already shown his offensive capabilities with four goals and two assists in just one half against Adrian in the Titans’ 10-9 fall exhibition victory. Unfortunately for Detroit, the former US Lacrosse All-American tore his ACL in that game and will likely miss the first three games of his final Division I season.

“Demorest is working hard and will be back for us at some point,” said Holtz. “He is a talented offensive player as well as our emotional leader on the field. A healthy Demorest will really have an impact for us.”

O’Shea, also a Titan captain, is a proven offensive player who scored 17 goals for Dominican college last year. He netted three scores in UDM’s 12-3 pre-season win over Michigan State.

“He has looked good in practice and with Demorest down, we need O’Shea to step up and score some goals for us,” said Holtz.
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Senior Michael Schumacher’s move from the midfield to attack will give the Titans some depth, while freshmen John Nowicki and Ty Maruyama adjust to the college game. Schumacher netted three goals in the Titans’ two pre-season games and another three in Detroit’s scrimmage with MSU, while Nowicki added four markers in the fall, including three against Wittenberg.

Midfield
Detroit is very young in the midfield with nine true freshman and four sophomores in the mix for playing time. Even with the youth, the Titans will have an interesting blend of size and speed in the position.

“We are young, but a lot of the guys are extremely talented and are improving everyday,” commented Holtz.

The size of the unit is led by 6-4 freshman Scott Harris, 6-2 rookies Vince Wigdahl and Jon Bemben and 6-1 Danny Preston.

Harris and Wigdahl each tallied a goal in the pre-season, while Preston and Bemben were key defensive midfielders.

“Harris showed a lot of promise in the fall and has played extremely well during our pre-season training,” said Holtz.

Sophomores Matt Gregson and Tim Lehto will also be key midfielders. Gregson notched 21 goals and picked up 41 groundballs last year while attending Adrian College. Lehto was able to show off his quickness with a couple of assists in the exhibition season. Sophomore Jeff Julius and freshman Brad Janer will give the unit some quality depth as the pair of local Detroit products enjoyed highly successful high school careers. Julius was one of Birmingham Seaholm’s top offensive players as a senior two years ago, while Janer was an Honorable Mention All-State performer at powerhouse Detroit Catholic Central.

Sophomores Tim Shoemaker and Adam Nolan along with freshman Max Gowins will handle the long stick midfield for Detroit. Gowins has plenty of experience with the long pole in high school, while Nolan, a former US Lacrosse All-American defender, is still learning the nuances of the position while recovering from a shoulder injury. Shoemaker played for coach Holtz as a freshman at Michigan State and was an All-CCLA honoree as a defenseman

“Guys like Gregson, Lehto, and Wigdahl all have the ability to be very solid for us,” added Holtz. “Shoemaker played for me so he knows what I am looking for.”

Defense
One of the more experienced units on the UDM squad, the Titan defense will feature three players with collegiate games under their belt, led by senior captain Riley Turchetti. The Grand Rapids native played three years of club lacrosse at Michigan State, including two years under coach Holtz, and was twice named an All-CCLA performer.

“Riley is a leader on and off the field for us,” said Holtz. ““He is a strong and athletic defender who plays solid defense and can handle the ball well.”

Junior Chris Butts will give the Titans a real presence with his 6-1 215 lb athletic frame. Butts played the last three years at Dominican College, but missed all last season with an injury leaving him with two years of eligibility.

“Chris will be a physical presence on the field for us,” said Holtz. “He may be the strongest player on our team, and will bring much needed experience to our defense.”

Sophomore Matt Clugston and freshmen Jason McDonald and Nik Hoye will round out the defensive unit. McDonald is a solid and sturdy 6-2 defender, while Clugston and Hoye are all 6-1 and very physical and athletic.

“I think this unit has a good mix of size and athleticism,” said Holtz. “We are going to miss Matt Berg to start the year, but this is our most experienced position with a number of talented players.”

Goalie
Junior Vince Diana and freshman Mike Lioi will enter the season battling for the starting job in-between the pipes. Diana is a transfer from Mercyhurst-Northeast, where he was a two time National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) All-Region 3 team performer recording 491 saves in two seasons.

Lioi won back-to-back MIAA-B championships at Archbishop Curley High School and ended his final season as the Friars’ team MVP.

“It is a real battle right now between those two,” said Holtz. “Diana has been doing a slightly better job stopping the ball, while Lioi has been clearing better. We will most likely play both guys during the season, especially the first few games.”