POULTNEY, Vt. – The build up to a new season is almost over for the men's lacrosse team as it puts the finishing touches on its preparations for its first contest this Saturday against Wheelock College. There is great anticipation for the 2018 season with Head Coach Paul Reif taking the helm of the program this past fall as the ninth head coach in team history after arriving from the University of Arizona.
Reif will be joined on the sidelines by new Assistant Head Coach Matthew Clark who brings a wealth of experience from the high school and club lacrosse levels after having played Division III lacrosse at Salve Regina.
Both coaches are encouraged by what they have seen in preseason and are looking forward to getting started on Saturday.
"Coach Clark and I are very proud of the progress and hard work the players have put in this preseason," said Reif. "They have bought into our cultural, offensive and defensive philosophies; which is evident in the improvement they are making every day. We have a challenging schedule ahead, but have high expectations this year and for the future, which includes conference playoff aspirations."
Green Mountain struggled through the 2017 campaign finishing with an overall record of 1-10 while finishing 1-6 within the North Atlantic Conference (NAC).
The Eagles return nine players from last year's squad including sophomore midfielder Deven Rogers (Oxford, Maine) who tallied a team-high 10 points. Also returning as the team's leading sniper from 2017 is senior defender Dominic Wright (Queens, N.Y.) who registered seven goals last year. Junior midfielder Chris Surdam (Plymouth, Mass.) also returns after a solid sophomore campaign in which he registered four goals and four assists.
Returning after missing last year is junior midfielder Will Durant (Plymouth, Mass.) who racked up 12 goals and four assists as a freshman. Senior midfielder Brandon Bellissimo (Chicago, Ill.) will again look to lead the Eagles' transition game with his speed through the midfield, while sophomore John Waddington (Jamestown, R.I.) will anchor the defensive unit.
James Levesque (Marlborough, Mass.) and Blake Hay (Damariscotta, Maine) will both have to make adjustments as they find themselves up top this year after spending last year in the midfield and on defense, respectively. They will be joined by freshman Lucas Williams (Moretown, Vt.) on the attacking front.
The most noticeable addition to the unit in 2018 will be between the pipes as senior Matt Sonntag (Pompton Plains, N.J.) takes over in goal. He will be paired with Chelsea Wimble (Colchester, Vt.) who brings two years of college experience as a starter for the Eagles women's team.
With a new coaching staff and largely new roster, the Eagles will look to lay down a foundation in 2018 upon which future success can be built.
Following the home opener against Wheelock, the Eagles will enjoy a five-game road swing through the end of March including the final road game during that stretch against Thomas which will double as the team's conference opener.