The men’s lacrosse team has a lot to look forward to this season, including new players, four team captains and a new goalie. With the loss of a few players due to graduation, the team is continuing to rebuild and gain respect.
“This has already been the best preseason we’ve had here,” Coach Martin Ward said. “This team here is a great group. They are very accountable…the effort’s always there with this team. We had to cut some deadweight, and get rid of guys that weren’t part of that mentality. I think we have some tough kids who want to get it done.”
The team has been practicing on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, leaving Tuesdays and Thursdays for weight lifting and reviewing films.
“I think it’s a very good program,” Ward said. “If, as a staff, we prepare these guys the right way, and they’re mentally, spiritually and physically ready to go, there’s no reason why we can’t have the best year ever in Florida Southern history.”
The team captains for the upcoming season include senior attackman Corey Brown, junior defenseman Brad Gysin, junior long stick midfielder Brad Fretti and junior midfielder Chris Murphy.
“Coach Ward is taking a new approach,” Gysin said. “We’ve done a lot of agility. I think it’s really helped our team as a whole. Everyone is ready to play and is giving their all at practice.”
All four players have appeared in the Deep South Conference Championship and will fulfill their roles as captains for the first time.
“I would like to get all-conference,” Fretti said. “We came close the last two years, but we would like to win a title this year.”
Gysin reflects Fretti’s drive to win a conference title this season.
“We have a pretty close team,” Gysin said. “Anything less than winning a conference title would be a disappointment for us. We want to go as far as we can.”
Goalie and two-time team MVP Andrew Almansberger recently graduated, leaving Ward to look for someone new to fill the position. Four freshmen, Sam Hartley, Jay Kuhn, Logan Muether and Daniel Rivas, are potentials for the goalie position. All four were starters in high school lacrosse, and Ward has high hopes for the players.
“It’s just going to depend on who takes ownership of the goal,” Ward said. “Consistency is going to be key. We’re really looking for the guy who steps up as a leader.”
Ward is also looking to rebuild the program in terms of respect and sees great potential in this year’s team.
“I’m looking forward to earning some respect,” Ward said. “I think this team’s the most athletic, knowledgeable and experienced we’ve had at Florida Southern. They’re all here for the same goal: to do great and make history.”
The Mocs will play a 14-game season starting with an exhibition against South Florida on Jan. 26 and the first regular season game on Feb. 8 against Tampa at Bryant Stadium.
“I think last year, going into the game, there was a lot of emotion,” Ward said. “This preseason, I haven’t said [Tampa’s] name at all. We’re worried about how good we’re going to be instead of what the other team is going to be like later down the road.”
Ward is excited about Florida Southern fans attending the games this year, and encourages any and all to support the Mocs.
“Our motto with the program is family, toughness and heart,” Ward said. “We’re moving at a fast pace. This should be a great year.”