COAST GUARD MEN'S LACROSSE 2017 The Coast Guard men’s lacrosse team saw a major jump last season as they more than doubled their win total and moved into the top four of the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC)..

The Bears return 24 players to a team that went 10-6 last season and 3-4 in the NEWMAC tying them for fourth. The majority of the team’s roster in built on underclassmen that saw a wealth of time last year but has a small but strong nucleus of upperclassmen to orchestrate the team’s potential for the upcoming season.

Tasked with leading this group is senior captain Blaise Curtis who was a unanimous pick by his teammates to be the solo team captain this season.

“His teammates gravitate to him (Curtis), they just trust him to make good decisions for them and be a good leader,” said third year head coach Ray LaForte. “He is excellent in every way.”

The Bears defense is one of their returning strengths anchored by sophomore goalie Trey Johnson who started 13 games last season sporting a 9-5 record. He led the conference with an 8.10 goals against average and allowed a NEWMAC low 108 goals. His goals against average was also 32nd in the country.

Sophomore Trey Johnson

In front of Johnson sits an aggressive, hungry defense led by second team All-NEWMAC returners sophomores Tom Bleifuss and Connor Ellis who led a defense that was ninth in the country in caused turnovers per game (12.44). The two players combined for 72 caused turnovers with Ellis leading the conference with 42 and Bleifuss sixth with 26. Ellis was also 15th in the country with a 2.28 caused turnovers per game average.

SophomoresTom Bleifuss (L) and Connor Ellis (R)

Also featured in the defense this season will be junior John Behnke, sophomores Ryland Chapman and Mike McCaslin and freshman Justin Edwards.

“I think we need to create offense via the defense,” added LaForte. “We will be a little bit of a proactive defense. Those athletes, Ellis and Bleifuss, are good players and we don’t have them on a short leash.”

Juniors Alec Groff and TJ Varley and sophomores Matt Nagle and Jeff Porter will highlight the defensive midfielders for Coast Guard this season.

The emphasis on the offensive side of the field is facilitation. LaForte believe the team will see an uptick in scoring because of the better passing team he has on the field this season.

“A real goal this year for us is to raise our assists totals,” commented LaForte. “The top level teams in the league have more assists so us being able to be more diverse in how we score with more people involved. Our six guys on attack all need to be a threat to go to goal and I think we have a better passing team to make that happen.”

One player making the switch to attack to help facilitate this needed surge in assists is sophomore Benner Geurtsen who had nine goals, six assists and 15 points last season. LaForte believes his addition to the attack will make more players viable scoring options.

Sophomore Benner Geurtsen

Sophomore second team All-NEWMAC returner Jack Pope (22 goals, 28 points) and classmate Anthony Wyler (18 goals, nine assists and 27 points) are the Bears top returning scoring options from last season and will continue to be dangerous around the goals. Sophomore Ian Logan (17 goals, 10 assists and 27 points) also is a threat to score in bunches as he tallied three hat tricks last season and also racked up four points against New England College. Junior Matt Huemme will also be healthy this season as he tallied eight goals before injuring his wrist against Regis early in the season.

Sophomores Anthony Wyler (L) Jack Pope (C) Ian Logan (R)

Newcomers Riley McNulty and Ryan Gochar will also be an added scoring punch for Coast Guard as they both have showed well during preseason and will look to make an immediate impact on the teams scoring.

Sophomore Colin Cashin returns as one of the top FOGO’s in the league as he earned second team All-NEWMAC honors at the position. Cashin was second in the conference with 158 won faceoffs and a .635 faceoff winning percentage. He was also third in the conference with 85 ground balls.

Coast Guard has also improved their schedule this season adding nonconference games against Lasell, Eastern Connecticut, Catholic, Washington College and Misericordia. The out of conference schedule will be highlighted by the rivalry matchup against Merchant Marine which will be played at the Naval Academy following the Army Navy game on April 15th.

“We have upped the difficulty of the schedule this season,” said LaForte. “We have brought in some more high end teams to our schedule. The whole schedule is enhanced."

The Bears will also play their always tough conference schedule with games against Springfield, Babson, MIT, Wheaton and Clark who were all in the mix until the final day of the season for a playoff berth.

Coast Guard opens the season on Saturday, February 25th, with a home game against Lasell College. Opening faceoff is 3:00.

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