Incoming class brings high hopes to lacrosse
Team looks to build upon last season for success
The Oberlin College men’s lacrosse team aspires to emerge as a competitive force within the North Coast Athletic Conference this spring, adding a strong group of new players to last season’s core veterans. Headlining the 2004 spring campaign are all-conference sophomores midfielder Will Jaffee and goalie Jared Pickard.
Jaffee, who paced the Yeomen with 24 goals last spring, garnered the seventh-highest total among NCAC leaders. Jaffee worked diligently this off-season to improve his stick skills and various scoring techniques. “This past summer I played in a league outside Boston which consisted of a number of Division I players, a token pro and good Division III guys and some club teams,” Jaffee said. His experience in the Boston summer league left him feeling that he had greatly improved his “maturity, speed and field creativity.”
Pickard’s presence in the net this season for the Yeomen will be needed in order to improve last season’s 0-6 conference record and 3-10 overall record. Pickard registered the second-highest save percentage in the NCAC with .622 as well as a first-place finish with 300 total saves. “[Pickard] possesses the quickest hands of any human being in the league,” Jaffee said.
The Yeomen roster will include an inexperienced offense. “We will be pretty immature this year,” said Jaffee, who foresees three or four starting spots filled by the incoming recruiting class. Leading the Yeomen incoming class are Ian Holljes, an attack-man who “will be a good physical force” for the Yeomen along with Brian Harfenist. Junior Nate Beckett, after taking last season off due to knee complications, will bring help to the inexperienced attack-line at the third attack position.
The Yeomen will have a solid defensive presence, headed by Pickard and senior long pole Ryan Silakoski. Veterans Silakoski and junior Dan Cole should contend for All-NCAC honors after narrowly missing them last spring due to injuries. Adding to the Yeomen’s sturdy defense will be first-years Jono Sanders and Max Braun. Both Sanders and Braun are expected to learn quickly from the veterans and compete for starting spots. A repeat season by Pickard, combined with the emergence of the newcomers and the heady play of Silakoski and Cole should form a formidable defense for the 2004 Yeomen.
With the addition of the first-years to the roster, the Yeomen should compete with the top half of the NCAC Conference. Ohio Wesleyan, the 2003 NCAC Champion, lost three-time All-NCAC selection Frank Bedford to graduation, as well as Mike Long and Andrew Dickson, who each earned first-team All-NCAC recognition. The loss of many elite players to graduation has left the NCAC watered down and in turn given the Yeomen a more optimistic outlook for the season. “We have a good shot at beating Wittenberg,” said Jaffee, referring to the Tigers, who finished with a sole win in NCAC play last spring.
“We will play competitive lacrosse this year with even the top 20 teams in the country,” Jaffee said regarding NCAC play against Ohio Wesleyan and Denison University. The added support of the athletic department and President Nancy Dye has rekindled an enthusiastic fire among the Yeomen team. “As we have seen, the funding [for] top of the line helmets, gloves and new goals will make recruiting much easier,” Jaffee said.