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Men’s lax begins journey to NAC title

The Castleton men’s lacrosse team opened up the regular season with a 17-11 loss at the hands of Western Connecticut on Sunday, Mar. 7. The Spartans came out slow, being outscored 12-5 at halftime, but they gained speed late as they outscored the Colonials 6-5 in the second half. Last season, the Spartans lost to West Conn. 20-9.Although Castleton lost its opening game, head coach Dave Wiezalis said his team has never looked this ready so early in the season. He attributed the readiness to Spartan Stadium. He said the facility has the team mentally and physically prepared earlier than last season. Early season practice on the turf field had the team picking up grounds outside rather than in the shape gym.

Senior captain Jake Rick is expected to generate a lot of offense through the transition game because of his ability to grab ground balls. Wiezalis said Rick is one of the team’s senior leaders this year and expects a lot out of him.

The coach also has high hopes for the team’s offense.

“I think we’ll have the strongest attack that we’ve had since I’ve started coaching in 2005,” Wiezalis said prior to Sunday’s game.

The attack position has a tremendous amount of depth, according to Wiezalis, partly due to senior Mike Martinez switching positions.

“He’s a midfielder turned attackman. He’s been able to execute it well. He’s a great inside finisher, and I think he’ll be able to shine in that position,” Wiezalis said.

Martinez’s move to attack has Wiezalis excited about the possibilities between him and his line mates.

“Mike Martinez making that change to attack will change the game for us. But as far as newcomers I think Nohea King will make an impact. He was a high school All-American, and we also got a transfer, Sam Bailey,” Wiezalis said.

He also said he expected a lot out of freshman midfielder Alex Brands.

“Brands might be one of the best ground ball leaders that comes onto this team.”

With the departure of graduated goaltender Mike Mamunes, Wiezalis said another key replacement is sophomore Dave DeGhetto.

“Dave has opened up tremendously since Mike’s departure. It happened in the fall; we saw a different player come out and start warming up. I think Dave has fully grasped what is needed to play goal affectively. I have no questions in my mind whether he is game ready-he is definitely game ready,” Wiezalis said.

Last season, the Spartans went 8-0 in the North Atlantic Conference and hosted the NAC championship. Mount Ida rolled into town and dashed any chance at Castleton hoisting the NAC title as they dominated the Spartans 25-9. This season, coach Wiezalis feels just as confident in his team’s ability to compete in the NAC.

“I feel that this will be another extremely strong year [in the conference]. I think we have a team this year that can beat Ida again. We lost a lot of talent the past year, but we’ve also gained a lot of talent,” Wiezalis said.

He also added that the team’s goal hasn’t changed from last year to this year.

“Our team goal is to win the NAC title and advance to the NCAA tournament. I’ve never felt as confident as I do today in being able to get there.