For the last six years, the three main preseason goals for the Castleton men’s lacrosse team have been just about the same: beat Mount Ida, win the North Atlantic Conference for the first time in program history and make the program’s first trip to the NCAA National Tournament. As the program has changed and evolved, so have the goals.
“We want to win the NAC obviously,” said junior goalie Dave DeGhetto, who was recently named captain for 2011. “We want to make it past the first round of the NCAA (tournament) and also beat big out-of-conference teams.”
The Spartans accomplished it all last season. They manhandled Mount Ida for the NAC championship but then lost to the perennial Keene State during their first trip to the “big dance.” Castleton beat Ida in the seventh-straight and final NAC championship matchup to feature the two teams. The Mustangs moved to a new conference after 2010.
There are plenty of chances to achieve the goals of 2011. In order to repeat, the Spartans must face an Ida-less NAC, in which they haven’t lost to another opponent since 2004.
Castleton will also play Colby, a team from the NESCAC, arguably Division III lacrosse’s best conference, sending three teams to the national tournament in 2010, Rensselaer, currently ranked No. 10 in nation, and Kean University, who handed last year’s champions an 18-1 loss.
Castleton senior co-captain Craig MacDerment said he was excited for the showdown with Colby. MacDerment has been a constant national leader in face-offs in each of his four seasons.
“Their (Colby’s) faceoff guy was third in the nation last year,” MacDerment stated. “I was fourth.”
Castleton’s first-year coach, Brian Kingsbury, believes the team needs to take it game-by-game, and he hopes it will take the Spartans back to the NAC championship.
“We want to continue to improve throughout the year,” Kingsbury said. “And we want to build off the success from last year.”
Kingsbury believes Maine Maritime Academy will step up and fill the shoes of Mount Ida as Castleton’s principle rival. The Mariners will return NAC Player of the Year Andrew DiSalvo and co-Rookie of the Year Tom Houle.
Castleton returns seven starters from last season’s championship squad. DeGhetto will anchor a returning defensive unit that shut-out two conference opponents. Junior attackman Sam Bailey will lead a young and talented offense with sophomore Nohea King, who led all freshmen in every scoring category and finished third on the team in goals (27) and points (42).
Newcomers Alex Green and A.J. Groot will look to make big impacts at attack and midfield respectively. Green, a freshman, was a Player of the Year in Vermont, and Groot is a transfer from SUNY-Cortland, which went to four-straight National Championships between 2006 and 2009.
“I’m excited to see A.J. play in a game,” Kingsbury said.
The inclement weather has kept a lot of the Spartan practices off the turf and moved their game with Rensselaer from a home game to a road one.
“I’m excited for the season,” MacDerment said. “I can’t wait to actually get out on the turf for consecutive practices.”
Castleton will play its home-opener game on Saturday, March 19 against Plymouth State. The game will start at 1 p.m.