Coaches pick Limestone to repeat
Saints return 13 players who competed in 2010 NCAA run
|2||Queens (N.C.) (2)||22|
HIGH POINT, N.C. – Following a 12-2 overall record last year and a perfect 8-0 mark in league play, Limestone has been chosen as the Conference Carolinas preseason No. 1 as voted on by league head coaches. The Saints are followed in the top three by Queens (N.C.) and Belmont Abbey.
First-year head men’s lacrosse coach J.B. Clarke inherits a Limestone squad that returns five starters, including 13 players that saw action in the Saints’ 2010 NCAA Division II national semifinal game. In all, Limestone won both the Conference Carolinas regular-season and tournament championships while representing the Southeast Region in the NCAA Division II Tournament for the 11th consecutive season.
Among the returnees on attack are senior Jeff Santo and sophomore Riley Loewen. They’ll be joined by a deep Saints midfield headlined by the return of senior captain Sam Buppert, junior Jackson Decker and senior Brian Patridge. Junior Brian Hogan and senior captain Ken Kerr return as part of a defense that yielded just more than six goals per game a year ago. The Saints will also be experienced between the pipes with the return of goalie Steve Gartleman, who posted a 5.92 goals against average and .563 save percentage during last year’s 14-game campaign.
Limestone will also be bolstered by the return of two preseason All-Americans who did not play last season. Senior Thomas Langan, who missed last season due to injury, was the Saints' second-leading scorer in 2009. Spencer Wims, who redshirted last season and is a three-time all-conference selection, earned 2009 first-team USILA DII All-America honors for his role as a shutdown defender when often matched against the opponent’s top scorer.
Queens (N.C.) enters the 2011 campaign in hopes of improving its record for the third consecutive year. After seeing his team improve from 8-6 in 2009 to 9-4 in 2010, reigning conference coach of the year Jim Fritz has the pieces in place to build on the program’s best season in history.
Leading the way for the Royals are captains Fred Bush, Travis Speer and Inside Lacrosse preseason all-conference selection Matthew Dolan. Their supporting cast consists of returning all-conference picks Corey Geroy, Joe Taylor, Dane Blodgett and goalkeeper Brandon Macknew. Specializing in different areas of the game, Geroy, Taylor, and Macknew have earned Inside Lacrosse preseason All-America honorable-mention accolades and all-conference selections.
Belmont Abbey returns five of its top six scorers from last year’s team that finished 7-6 and advanced to the Conference Carolinas championship game. Sophomore Dan Morrissey, last year’s conference freshman of the year, returns as the Crusaders' top scorer after registering 16 goals and a team-high 17 assists last year. He was the Abbey’s third conference freshman of the year in the program’s five year history. Tanner Scharr and Nick Boylan also return to the Abbey lineup. Boylan scored 17 goals a year ago to earn third-team honors, while Scharr scored 15 goals.