Men’s Lacrosse: Suffer Tough Loss to Start Season
The Colby men's lacrosse team opened up its season this past week in an away game against perennial powerhouse Williams College. The Mules had a two game regular season winning streak against the Ephs in New England Small Conference Athletic Conference (NESCAC) play last season, but this day was not Colby's as they took a disappointing one goal loss, 7-6.
The Mules started the game off on the right foot against their traditional opening game opponents. The Mules took an early 2-0 lead with goals from Stew Brown '10 and Greg McKillop '13, who was playiang in his first collegiate game. McKillop was the offensive All-Star for the Mules, leading the team with three goals. Williams pulled closer at the end of the first quarter, netting a goal past Colby goalie Tom Gianakos '10,with just over three minutes remaining in the period. Gianakos played the full 60 minutes in net, making 12 saves on 19 shots. Coach Jon Thompson was not only impressed with Gianakos's play in net, but said, "he led our [defense] with exceptional composure and that was one of our goals for the day, to clear well."
The second quarter was even, with both teams scoring twice. Williams opened up the scoring with an unassisted goal by Sam Hargrove. Colby responded quickly with two goals in the next two and a half minutes. McKillop added his second of the game with an assist from John Jennings '13, followed by an unassisted goal by Whit McCarthy '10, the team's high scorer from last year. The Ephs soon brought the score to 4-3, and carrying the momentum from that goal into halftime, the Mules came out strong in the third quarter.
The third quarter decided the game for the Mules. Williams scored an early goal and played solid defense, not allowing a Colby goal. With two more goals in the third, and an early goal in the fourth, the Ephs took control. The Mules' nine turnovers that quarter, the most of any quarter, helped the Ephs keep control. The Mules found their scoring touch late in the fourth, but it was too late. McCarthy and McKillop notched goals with three minutes and a minute and a half remaining, but they couldn't find the back of the net in the final seconds of the game.
McCarthy finished up the game with two goals and two assists. First year Ian Deveau added an assist as well.
A bright spot for the Mules was the continuing dominance in face-offs by All-American and top face-off man in the NESCAC, Craig Bunker '11. He won nine of his 13 face-offs. Nick Hunnewell '12 won both his chances taking face-offs for the Mules. McKillop and Chris Healy '11 led Colby in groundballs with six and four, respectively. Overall, Coach Thompson and his team were "disappointed about the outcome of the game yesterday, but encouraged by the process." The Mules will have plenty of opportunities to improve their record as they match-up against Endicott on Tuesday, Plymouth State on Thursday and Tufts on Saturday.
As for the rest of the season, Colby is coming off its best season in years, thanks in large part to second year head coach Thompson. His focus is not necessarily on game outcomes; although Colby had a winning record last season and made it to the NESCAC playoffs for the first time since 2002, Thompson focuses mostly on the process. He is not only training these college athletes to be better lacrosse players, but also to be better men. Colby looks to return to the playoffs and make a run for the NESCAC title. After a successful year last year, the Mules enter the season eighth in New England and fifth in the competitive NESCAC.
Last year, Colby lost Caddy Brooks '09, one of Colby's finest players to ever don the lacrosse uniform, and the team is looking for someone to step up to fill the leadership, scoring and assisting voids left open. Second-year captain James Brady '10 and alternate captain Bunker look to fill the leadership void as it appears that first-year McKillop is taking the scoring burden off of offensive juggernaut McCarthy's shoulders.
Brady anchors a solid defense with Healy, and together they take away their opponents' top offensive threats. Senior Austin Lee and Christian Kelso '13 round out the defensive starters. Mark Squicciarino '11 and captain Max Weiss lead a strong midfield unit with first-year Bjorn Knutson. Patrick Briody '10 is the final starter for Colby at attack. Colby started four first-years this year, a fact that speaks to the depth and talent of a class looking for more playing time.