Lax prepares to defend first NAC title

For the first time since joining the North Atlantic Conference, the men’s lacrosse team will have a target on its back going into tournament play. The Spartans will try to defend their 2010 conference title starting today.”We’re going to approach [the tournament] like any other games,” said junior attackman Sam Bailey. “We can’t worry about what any other [teams] are doing. we have to focus on ourselves and play with confidence.”

Castleton had played Mount Ida College in the seven previous conference-title matchups, winning just once. The Mustangs left after the end of the 2010 season to join the weaker Great Northeast Athletic Conference.

The road back to the tournament for an eighth-consecutive year was a grueling 16 game schedule of the toughest competition the program has faced.

The Spartans had close battles with powers like Colby College and Kean University, losing those games 9-8 and 8-5 respectively.

Castleton also hosted then 12th-ranked Rensselaer, which gave the unready Spartans a taste of how things are in the Top 25 with a 16-2 shellacking.

“I feel like one of our major goals was to defeat out-of-conference opponents but even though we didn’t beat [some], we did really well,” redshirt freshman midfielder Phil Patterson said. “Next year we’ll definitely have some upsets.”

Head coach Brian Kingsbury said that the team played better against out-of-conference opponents than it had the previous season. The Spartans lost to Kean 18-1 a season ago in Elizabeth, N.J.

“We had some downfalls this year, but we responded pretty well,” Kingsbury said.

Castleton finished 10-6 for the season and a perfect 7-0 in the NAC including a 14-0 shutout of the University of Maine-Farmington. The top-seeded Spartans will have home-field advantage throughout the tournament.

“We definitely just gotta come in and play confident and know that we are the best team in the NAC,” Patterson said. “We already beat the teams [this season] and when we play them again we’ll be at the top of our game so it’ll be a smokeshow.”

Bailey agreed.

“The best lacrosse is played in May,” he said.

Castleton will host Thomas College later today. The Terriers ousted the Beavers of Maine-Farmington on Saturday, April 30, 14-3.

“Thomas won big against Maine-Farmington. They’re going to be ready to play,” said Kingsbury, who also said the tournament is a whole new season for the Spartans.

“We have to work on ourselves and get in our own mindset,” Kingsbury reiterated.

In the season finale, the Spartans traveled to SUNY-Cobleskill and ended with a 13-9 win against the non-conference foe.

Junior attackman Brian McCarthy paced the spartan offense with a hat trick and an assist, while fellow attackman Nohea King had two goals and two helpers. Alex Green (one assist), A.J. Groot, and Patterson each ripped two goals, and Bailey and Derek Riley scored once.

Junior co-captain and goalie, Dave DeGhetto made 11 stops.

The Spartans launched 54 shots on Tigers goalie Tom Knezick and won the battle for ground balls 49-38.

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