Feb. 20, 2009
Providence, RI - The season opening game for any team always provides a level of anxiousness. But Brown's defending Ivy League Champion men's lacrosse team will come into Saturday's (2/21/09) opening game at Lehigh with a heightened confidence that it didn't have a year ago. Face-off for Saturday's game against the Mountain Hawks is 1:00 p.m. at the Ulrich Sports Complex.
Head coach Lars Tiffany's men's lacrosse team is looking to build on last year's Ivy League Championship and for the program to take the next step. With the return of the seven starters, including Ivy League Player of the Year and All-American senior goalie Jordan Burke, Tiffany's squad has positioned itself to once again challenge for an NCAA Tournament berth.
Last year's squad, the number one ranked team in New England, won 10 of its last 11 games to capture the Ivy Championship, and did so with one of the stingiest defenses in the nation, allowing just 6.79 goals per game, fourth best in the country.
"The biggest challenge for Brown Lacrosse in 2009 is to build an even stronger foundation during the off-season," said Tiffany. "Intense training, endurance and determination will be needed to accomplish this: there is no substitute for hard work. With such a base, this program can realize greater aspirations and goals in 2009. We are excited to get to work!"
A team captain for the Bears in 2009, Burke, a second team USILA All-American in 2008 and the Ivy League Player of the Year, was the anchor of the Bears' defensive unit. A finalist for the Tewaarton Award as the Nation's top player, Burke led the nation with an outstanding save percentage of .674, and ranked second in the nation with a 6.43 goals against average. A team captain for the Bears, Burke was a unanimous first team All-Ivy selection and earned All-New England honors.
"The resurgence of Brown Lacrosse has so much to do with the play of Jordan the past two seasons," states Tiffany. "His stopping ability is due to 1) physical reasons: quick hands and smart steps; 2) mental reasons: studious scouting report and film preparation along with great anticipation; and 3) emotional reasons: he remains stoic while truly believing he can save every shot he faces."
Backing-up Burke is sophomore Matt Chriss, who saw action in games against Lehigh, Air Force and Vermont a year ago. Chriss has been exceptional in practice, impressing everyone with his focus, drive, and standout play despite the limited prospect of playing time in 2009. Freshman Noah Beatty had a good start to his career this fall.
The Bears lose two starters on defense, but return a slew of experienced players.
Senior captain Todd Faiella has proven to be a major spark for the Bears' defense. He joined the team midway through the 2007 season as a goalie and helped the Bears beat Hartford. In 2008, Faiella played a key role as a defenseman for the Bears' stingy defense.
Junior close defenseman Jake Westermann started half the season and played a critical role in every game for last year's squad will be a key player in this year's defense. Junior Jake Hardy returns as the starting long stick midfielder, leading the Bears with 32 ground balls in 2008. Sophomore Peter Fallon became a starter during the second half of the 2008 season, and really showed his mettle at the Under-19 World Championships where he helped Team USA to the gold medal while being named the Defenseman of the Tournament.
Sophomore Matt Greenberg also had a strong second half to the 2008 season and played a key role in Brown's man-down defense. Senior Ryan Cassil had a strong fall season and will challenge for a starting role along with sophomore Joe Orloff, a tremendous hitter. Tiffany will also welcome freshman defenders Brennan Bailey and Jason Hardy, Jake's brother.
Virtually the entire Brown scoring attack is back with returning players accounting for 114 of the team's 119 goals from a year ago, including its top eight scorers.
Headlining the returnees is junior attackman Thomas Muldoon, Brown's top scorer a year ago and a first team All-Ivy and All-New England selection. Muldoon ranked 21st nationally in goals per game, and led the Bears in scoring for the second straight season with 37 points, registering 30 goals and seven assists. His 2.14 goals per game were second in the Ivy League. He scored four goals vs. Hofstra and Yale and led the Ivy League with 12 man-up goals. Muldoon now has 69 career points, with 53 goals and 16 assists.
Joining the attack is senior captain Kyle Hollingsworth, an All-New England selection, and Brown's scoring leader in Ivy League games with 16 points (12 goals, 4 assists). His 34 points overall (21 goals, 13 assists) were second on the Brown team. He scored the game-wining goal against Yale with 11 seconds remaining, netted four goals vs. Cornell and Air Force, scored three goals vs. Penn, and registered two goals and four assists vs. Delaware.
Also on the Bears' attack unit is sophomore attackman Andrew Feinberg, the New England Rookie of the Year. Feinberg was a three-time Ivy League Rookie of the Week and Brown's fourth leading scorer with 21 goals and five assists. His 21 goals are the third most for a freshman in Brown lacrosse history. Feinberg scored a season high four goals in a win over Providence. Feinberg was the second leading scorer with 20 goals for gold medal-winning Team USA at the 2008 Under-19 World Lacrosse Championships.
A starter on attack in 2008, senior captain Jack Walsh is moving to the midfield for his final season. His abilities to run all day and play defense, combined with his offensive skills, create an exciting 2-way midfielder option for Brown. He was Brown's top assist man in 2008, distributing 16 assists. He also added 13 goals to finish as Brown's third leading scorer. Walsh registered a hat-trick against Penn and Vermont, both times adding an assist.
In the midfield, senior Reade Seligmann played a key role a year ago and has come back to College Hill leaner and faster for the 2009 season. Seligmann, who will be relied on to provide leadership and scoring in the midfield, netted five goals and distributed three assists in 2008.
Senior Brady Williams, the winner of the Jim Tepper Award as Brown's most improved player in 2008, was Brown's sixth top scorer in the midfield last season with 12 points (3 goals, 9 assists). Junior middie Nik Melvin is a dangerous transition player who netted a goal and two assists in 2008. Senior midfielders Joel Tracy (1 assist), Nic Bell (1 goal, 1 assist), Conor Larkin, and Phil Thebault (1 assist) are also expected to see time in the Bears' midfield along with juniors Charlie Kenney (1 assist) and Jason Pohanka, and sophomores Jeff Foote (1 goal), Teddy Daiber (1 goal) and Jimmy Wittpenn. Junior Matt Shakespeare registered an assist last season. Also expected to contribute in their inaugural campaign are freshmen Willie Fix, Nicholas Laster and Rob Schlesinger.
The Bears struggled in the face-off-x a year ago, but Coach Tiffany is hopeful his squad can be drastically improved with the addition of sophomore transfer Seth Ratner and Fix to take the bulk of the face-off duties. The Bears also have Tracey (43 of 107), Wittpenn (21 of 51), Kenney (21 of 54) and Bell (14 of 27) to contribute to the face-off effort.