Western New England Looks to Repeat As CCC Men’s Lacrosse Champion

Western New England Looks to Repeat As CCC Men’s Lacrosse Champion

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – After a perfect Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) season last year, Western New England will try to make it two in a row as the Golden Bears were picked as the favorite in the 2017 CCC Men's Lacrosse Coaches' Preseason Poll.

The reigning champions – and winners of the four of the last five – earned 79 points and seven first place votes in the poll conducted by the league's nine CCC men's lacrosse head coaches.

The Golden Bears had an 8-0 CCC (15-4 Overall) record last year and earned the No. 1 seed in the 2016 CCC Championship Tournament. After receiving a bye to the semifinals, Western New England dispatched the No. 4-seeded University of New England, 17-5. In the CCC Championship game against Endicott – the fourth championship meeting in as many years – WNE came away with the narrow 14-12 victory.

Western New England earned the right to host SUNY Cortland in the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship First Round, but were eliminated by the Red Dragons with a 13-5 defeat.

Last year's CCC Tournament runner-up, Endicott, was also the runner-up in the 2017 preseason rankings. The Gulls grabbed the other two first place votes and earned 74 points in the poll.

The Gulls, which went 7-1 in the CCC (9-9 Overall), will be looking to return to the CCC Championship game for the fourth year in a row. The Gulls only loss in conference play last year came at the hands of the Golden Bears.

The two semifinalists from a year ago, Roger Williams and the University of New England, finished third and fourth in the poll, respectively. The Hawks earned 62 points, while the Nor'easters garnered 54. Salve Regina rounded out the top five with 44 points.

Wentworth (36 points), Curry (27), Gordon (15), and Nichols (14) rounded out this year's table in that order.

The men's lacrosse season is scheduled to get underway on Saturday, Feb. 18 with Salve Regina visiting Emmanuel in non-conference action. The quest for the 2017 CCC Championship begins on Saturday, March 25 with four conference matchups on the schedule. The top six teams in the conference standings at the end of the regular season will qualify for the CCC Men's Lacrosse Championship Tournament.  The tournament begins with the quarterfinal round on Saturday, April 29 and concludes with the Championship game on Saturday, May 6. The CCC Tournament Champion will earn the league's automatic qualifier into the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship.

Click HERE to view the whole 2016-17 CCC men's lacrosse schedule.

 

 

 2017 CCC Men's Lacrosse Preseason Coaches' Poll

 

Team

Points (First Place Votes)

1.

Western New England

79 (7)

2.

Endicott

74 (2)

3.

Roger Williams

62

4.

University of New England

54

5.

Salve Regina

44

6.

Wentworth

36

7.

Curry

27

8.

Gordon

15

9.

Nichols

14


2017 CCC Men's Lacrosse Previews

1. Western New England

Western New England is coming off a 15-4 campaign last spring in which the Golden Bears captured their sixth Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) title before making the program's eighth appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

Western New England returns six All-CCC performers from last year's squad, including senior midfielder Keegan Dudeck (Longmeadow, Mass.), senior defender Steven Patrie (Lewiston, Maine) and junior short-stick midfielder Justin Holl (Mount Laurel, N.J.), who were all named preseason All-Americans by Inside Lacrosse in the publication's 2017 Face-Off Yearbook.

Head coach John Klepacki begins his 16th season at the helm of the men's lacrosse program in 2017 after surpassing the 200-win milestone last spring.

Western New England opens its season at home against Keene State on February 21st, before taking on St. Lawrence at a neutral site on March 4. The Golden Bears are also slated to face Amherst, SUNY Cortland, Nazareth, Ithaca, Springfield and Tufts during their challenging non-conference schedule. 

 

 
Keegan Dudeck, WNE

2. Endicott

After falling to Western New England in last year's CCC Championship game, the Endicott men's lacrosse team will look to flip the script on the Golden Bears in 2017.

The Gulls will look to accomplish this by playing a loaded schedule this spring that includes six teams that reached the NCAA tournament last season including Tufts, who advanced to the NCAA Championship. Six of the teams on the schedule in 2017 are also ranked inside the top-20 in the Inside Lacrosse Preseason rankings: Tufts (5), Bowdoin (9), Bates (11), Amherst (13), Middlebury (16). This schedule will prepare the Gulls for another deep CCC Tournament run.

On the offensive end, Endicott will return many key components that finished the 2016 season ranked first in the CCC in face-off wins, second in goals (228) and goals per game (12.67), and third in assists (135). Headlining the offensive unit will be Colin Bannon (Westport, Conn.), Will Jennings (Danvers, Mass.), and Tommy Hughes (Coram, N.Y.).

In the end, Endicott's strength of schedule, its returners on offense, and the veteran presences on defense should aid the Gulls in capturing another CCC title in 2017.

 


Colin Bannon, EC

3. Roger Williams

The Roger Williams men's lacrosse team looks to make a push in the 2017 campaign and clinch its first CCC Championship in program history. In 2016, the Hawks sought their first berth to the CCC Championship Game since 2012, but fell short in the CCC Semifinals to Endicott. Though this year's squad will be lighter than years past on upperclassmen, the Hawks still feel confident in the contributions that will be made by the first-year players and returning sophomores. In addition to the 19 newcomers for Roger Williams, RWU returns three 2016 All-CCC players, including All-CCC First Team selection AJ Core (Syosset, N.Y.).

 


AJ Core, RWU

4. University of New England

The University of New England and fifth-year head coach Charlie Burch return nine starters and 92 percent of the goal scorers from the 2016 edition of the squad that went 5-3 in CCC play and made it back to the league semifinals after a two-year absence. Leading the offense will be senior attacker Dan Auger (Nashua, N.H.) (31 goals, 42 assists) and junior midfielder Tom Luttrell (Greenbrae, Calif.) (39 goals) -- both All-CCC Second Team performers from a season ago. Senior goalkeeper David Pearson (Scarborough, Maine) (8.56 goals against average, 0.611 save percentage) and senior defender Wyatt Ehrhardt (Temecula, Calif.) (46 ground balls, 23 caused turnovers) are back as well, coming off All-CCC Third Team efforts.

 

 
Dan Auger, UNE

5. Salve Regina

Returning significant starters and over 75 percent of point scoring, Salve Regina will look to make its fourth straight trip, including 10 of the last 11, to the conference championship playoffs. Two key returners are senior captains Nick LoCicero (Lynbrook, N.Y.) and Jake Gonzalez (Tolland, Conn.).  In three years, LoCicero has recorded 205 points (61 goals and 144 assists).  In 2016, he recorded 80 points (29 goals and 51 with 53 ground balls).  He holds several all-time, season, and single-game Seahawk records.  From 2014-2016, Gonzalez took 617 faceoffs, winning 333; he currently ranks third all-time in Seahawk faceoff win percentage history at 54%.

 

   Nick LoCicero, SRU

6. Wentworth

The Wentworth men's lacrosse team is coming off its fourth straight appearance in the CCC Tournament and, with 25 players returning from last year's team, the Leopards are poised to improve their standing within the league. While Wentworth may have finished with a 4-13 record in 2016, the Leopards were involved in numerous close games with five of their losses coming by a single goal. Additionally, the Black & Gold played in a program-record four overtime games a season ago, including back-to-back contests to close out the regular season.

Leading the offensive returners is senior Mike Coakley (Flemington, N.J.) who had 13 goals and nine assists for 22 points. All three of those stats ranked him third among his teammates. Sophomore Jack Zaylor (Hanover, Mass.) was on pace to be one of the team's leading scorers as a freshman before an injury ended his rookie campaign. In five games he scored eight goals and had one assist for nine points. Senior midfielder Sean Farmer (Billerica, Mass.) had a strong, two-way season for Wentworth last season as he scored seven goals and assisted on seven others for 14 points while causing seven turnovers and scooping up 29 ground balls. Sophomore Sean Brennan (Stony Point, N.Y.) was second on the team in ground balls (69) and third in caused turnovers (24) while also collecting six points on three goals and three assists. Classmate Peter Andersson (Madison, N.J.) also returns for the Leopards after winning just under 50 percent of his face-offs at the X and scooping up 48 ground balls.

 

 
Mike Coakley, WIT

7. Curry

The 2017 Curry men's lacrosse team returns five of their top eight double-digit goal scorers from a year ago, headlined by sophomore MJ Urbano (Wakefield, Mass.) who registered 26 goals and senior Brandon Flaim (Pembroke, Mass.), who tallied 21 goals. The Colonels also return four of their top five point-getters to this year's squad.

The Colonels defense looks to build off their 2016 performance. A continued strong groundball game from Chris Bronander (Glen Ridge, N.J.) (36) and Urbano (35) will have a big impact. The defensive unit will be anchored by the collective contributions of juniors Jack Boillotat (Hanover, N.H.), and Chris McGreevy (Rocky Point, N.Y.).

Seniors Dominick Marcella (Hull, Mass.), Shane O'Brien (East Falmouth, Mass.) and sophomore Wade Prajer (Southbury, Conn.) will captain this year's squad as they will look to improve off a 10-7 overall record obtained in 2016, including a 2-6 mark in the CCC.

 


MJ Urbano, CC

8. Gordon

Gordon will look to reboot after missing the CCC postseason in 2016. Warren Shumate returns for his eighth season coaching the Fighting Scots and brings in a large recruiting class to add to an already youthful foundation. The Fighting Scots will have to replace its top two scorers from last season, but junior Nico Manganiello (Peabody, Mass.) looks ready to assume the role after his second consecutive 20-goal season. Sophomore Austin Early (Palmyra, Va.) also figures into Gordon's long-term plans on offense after scoring 11 as a freshman. Will Brown (Uxbridge, Mass.) and Hunter Ward (Fauquier, Va.) will lead a group of defensemen with a few new faces, including in the cage. 

 

Nico Manganiello, GC

9. Nichols

Head coach Eric Gobiel and the Nichols men's lacrosse program seek to return to the playoffs in 2017. Junior MacKenzie Martin (Merrimack. N.H.) returns after leading the Bison in both goals (36) and points (45) last season. Senior Tyler Sikich (Hermosa Beach, Calif.) dished out a team-high 14 assists and collected 37 points. Sophomores Brian Davidson (New Milford, Conn.) and Matt O'Connell (Woburn, Mass.) anchor the defense after combining for 52 ground balls and 24 caused turnovers in their first year in Dudley.


MacKenzie Martin, NC

 

Season previews contributed by each school's sports information department.

 

ABOUT THE COMMONWEALTH COAST CONFERENCE

The Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC), founded in 1984, is an NCAA Division III athletic conference comprised of ten full member and three associate member institutions throughout the New England region. Its membership aims to provide student-athletes with a positive experience in their pursuit of excellence through high academic standards, quality competition, and a meaningful student life. The conference currently administers championships in 16 intercollegiate sports with that number set to increase next year with the addition of football.

 

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