Looks For Offense to Lead The Way
BY NICK STILLMAN
Just as it seemed winter temperatures might level off for good, Mother Nature wreaked havoc on northeast Ohio, coating North fields with a significant layer of snow and throwing a wrench into the men’s lacrosse practice schedule. The team has been practicing both inside and outside in preparation for Saturday’s scrimmage against the Cleveland Lacrosse
Club, a post-graduate team.
Head Coach Jim Donovan and Assistant Coach Jeff Ramsey expressed dissatisfaction with the snow, saying it limited the amount of productive work the team could accomplish in practice. “It’s frustrating,” Ramsey said. “When you practice indoors, things are confined and space is limited.”
Donovan assumed a more resigned tone regarding the unwelcome snow, saying, “It really does hamper us, but we’ll just have to fight through it.”
The Yeomen have reason to be antsy to take to the playing field, as the defense should be much improved and three of the top four goal-scorers from last year’s team are returning. Senior Michael Wexler, a co-captain, pointed to the defense as an area that could help improve last year’s 3-10 record. “I think we have two really good freshmen who plan to step into big spots,” he said, referring to first-years Noah Hoskings and Logan Hegg, both of whom the coaches project to start.
Ramsey also said he expects the defense to carry the team, citing senior Tyler Smith as particularly solid. “The skill level of the returners has increased — especially with the defense.”
Junior Dave Smolev, the other co-captain and the Yeoman goalie, could break the conference record for total saves with a solid season.
The offense has the potential to be not only strong but explosive, as Wexler, senior Evan Kelley and sophomore Erik Vashon should tally significant points. “Vachon was the leading scorer last year and we expect him to lead the way on offense,” Donovan said. Vachon totaled 30 goals last year and also added 18 assists.
Donovan said that if Kelley can avoid injuries, which have hampered him throughout his career, he should have an outstanding senior season. Last year Kelley powered the attack with 22 goals, but wasn’t able to register a single assist.
“I expect Kelley to come through big in the goal category and I hope he improves his assists,” Wexler said.
Donovan agreed with Wexler that if Kelley can contribute not only with goals, but also with assists, the Yeoman attack should be dangerous. “Kelley is a very good passer and [passing] is something we’re stressing this year,” he said.
While Wexler cited depth as the team’s primary weakness, Ramsey said the midfield will likely be the weak link. Referring to the powerful offensive trio of Vachon, Kelley and Wexler, Ramsey said, “We have three solid scorers who can attack, but at least one of them will probably want to be a midfielder. We need to find a couple really good midfielders.”
The Yeomen will have to play almost perfectly if they expect to emerge from the gauntlet that is NCAC conference play with some victories. Ohio Wesleyan and Denison are perennial national top 10 contenders and Kenyon is expected to repeat last year’s NCAA Tournament appearance.
Oberlin’s first conference game is March 17 against Wittenburg.
Neither of the coaches ventured predictions about the fast-approaching season, but Wexler said the team’s goal should be to maximize their own abilities and not become overly worried about wins and losses. Still, with Vachon and Kelley fueling the attack, a goalie on the verge of a milestone and a defense that should be able to slow tough conference foes, the Yeoman have reason to wish for warm sun and a dry playing field.
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