POULTNEY, Vt. – First-year head coach Kevin Zuchorski has been anxiously awaiting opening day since he was named the new Green Mountain College men's lacrosse coach in October of last year. Zuchorski and the team have been preparing for the launch of the 2017 season for the past three weeks as the team has held countless practices and made tremendous strides according to Zuchorski.
"I'm excited to get our season started," said Zuchorski. "Our team is young, but very hungry to see what we can do and see what we can achieve as a team this season."
The Eagles are coming off of a 2-11 campaign in 2016, one in which the team scored the most goals as a program since the Eagles joined the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) in 2009. The team was much improved last year extending its consecutive seasons in which the program has taken positive steps forward. In addition to the pair of victories last year, the Eagles lost four games by five goals or less.
Last year's team was filled with several underclassmen including five freshmen starters. Those players with another season under their belts have continued to get better and should demonstrate that this year.
Thirteen new players will be wearing the Eagle uniform for the first time this year and will look to help the team carry over its forward momentum from last year.
Up top, the Eagles will return two of the team's leading scorers on attack as David Gerken and Chris Surdam will look to lead the offense. The pair combined for 24 goals and 33 points as freshmen and will be relied on to carry an even bigger work load as sophomores. That pair will be supplemented by freshman Colton Everett.
"Our mindset is going to focus on ball control and using quality looks on offensive opportunities," said Zuchorski. "We want to be sure we don't leave anything on the table."
Replacing some of the departed midfield punch from last year will be juniors Dominic Wright, Tim Stangel, Jason Rubin and Braden Kietzman, and freshmen Deven Rogers and Jay Levesque. Wright brings an athletic skillset with strength and agility on drives to the net while Stangel, Rubin and Kietzman all possess deft stick skills and will help to initiate the offense. Rogers and Levesque will have to adjust to the speed and physicality of play at the college level, but have the ability to push in transition and put the ball in the back of the net. Rogers and Kietzman will also spend time in the face-off X.
With three of the team's top defenders graduating last season, the Eagles will see a lot of new faces defending the goal in 2017. Ethan Cooper is the lone returning defender and will look to quickly help develop team chemistry in the back. Junior Blake Hay will slide from his midfield spot last year onto defense and be joined classmate Xavier Van den Boogaard who joins the team this year. The team will be buoyed by senior Victor Gollub, junior Brandon Bellissimo and freshmen Xavier Johnson, Tucker Savini, and John Waddington.
"Our goal on defense is to be an aggressive group that is disciplined and communicates well," said Zuchorski.
Carl Diethelm will once again anchor the defense as he steps between the pipes for the Eagles. In his three years with the program, Diethelm has progressively improved and continues to impress with his ability to communicate with his defenders. Backing up Deithelm will be junior transfer Daniel McKinney.
Following its opening game against Anna Maria, Green Mountain will also play non-conference opponents Daniel Webster, SUNY Purchase, SUNY Cobleskill, Dean and Wheelock in anticipation of opening the NAC portion of the schedule on March 25th against Husson at home.