Providence, R.I. – The emerald turf at Stevenson Field will shine this week as the Brown men’s lacrosse team opens its 2013 season at home against Quinnipiac on Saturday, February 23, starting at 1 pm. All Brown home lacrosse games are video streamed live on brownbears.com, with Mike Rubin and Mike Mancuso calling all the action.
Coach Lars Tiffany’s team is ready for the season opener with an experienced midfield, a talented and veteran defense, an All-Ivy goalie and a youthful and dynamic attack. The Bears return five All-Ivy players to the lineup and look poised to make a run at the Ivy League title.
The Bears are coming off a 7-8 season that included a berth in the Ivy League Playoffs. Quinnipiac posted a 3-11 record a year ago, but was chosen 4th in the NEC Pre-season poll.
Brown and Quinnipiac have met four times, dating back to 2005, with the Bears holding a 4-0 series advantage over the Bobcats. Last year, Brown rallied from an early 3-1 deficit to defeat Quinnipiac, 12-7, behind Nick Piroli’s ‘15 three goals.
Headlining the Brown attack is junior Sam Hurster, a second team All-Ivy selection, and sophomore Nick Piroli, who will be expected to carry the scoring load after solid play a year ago. Hurster led the Bears and ranked third in the Ivy League with 31 goals, registering hat-tricks in Brown’s final six regular season games. He has one of the quickest triggers on the Brown team, with an explosive release of a “heavy” shot. Piroli had an immediate impact as a first year player, netting 23 goals, second on the Brown team. He is a crafty off-ball cutter with a high level of game sense.
Tiffany will look at a trio of talented first-year players to secure the third attack position, including freshmen Bailey Tills, Henry Blynn and Kylor Bellistri. All three freshmen made an impact in the fall, which could free-up Piroli to play a feeder role for the Bears’ offense.
Brown’s All-Ivy defensive unit is rated one of the best in the nation with senior co-captains Clay Del Prince and Sam Ford paired with senior Roger Ferguson to provide a formidable back-line. Add junior Phil Pierce, who ranked 11th nationally in caused turnovers, and the Bears’ defensive unit is well positioned for the 2013 season.
Ford, a second team All-Ivy defenseman, led the Bears with 63 ground balls, including a career best 14 ground balls vs. Providence. He takes on challenging opponents in one-on-one match-ups and coordinates the team defensive slide schemes. Del Prince, an honorable mention All-Ivy selection, accrued just two penalties in 2012, while he was creating 27 turnovers and guarding the opponent’s best attackman every game. He ranked 17th nationally with 1.8 caused turnovers per game. Ferguson picked up 39 ground balls, third best on the Brown team, while registering six points (one goal, five assists). He earned honorable mention All-Ivy honors and is a shutdown defenseman, always assigned to guard the best midfielders in the game. Pierce was a starter at close defense a year ago and wrecked havoc on opponents, registering seven caused turnovers vs. Harvard.
Joining the mix on Brown’s defensive unit is sophomore Will Swindell, freshman Calum McClelland, freshman Todd Stewart, junior Peter Vivonetto and freshman James Lawrence.
Senior George Sherman is a fast, energizing and talented midfielder, who makes his teammates better. His 17 points (8 goals, 9 assists) is third among Brown’s returning players. Senior Johnny DePeters returns for his final spring on College Hill and is poised to light up the scoreboard even more this year after scoring 12 goals last season. Junior Stephen Chmil will also run in the midfield after scoring eight goals a year ago. Tiffany expects freshmen Brendan Caputo and Tim Jacob to contribute immediately. Also competing in the midfield are sophomore Tyler Landis, senior Alex Jones, an explosive player, who missed all of last season due to injury, senior Shane McHugh, sophomore Nick St. Laurent, and junior Brady Williams.
In goal, Bears’ junior Will Round had a breakout season in 2012, earning second team All-Ivy honors in his first year as a starter. Round, who posted a 9.03 goals against average and ranked second in the league in save percentage (.530), registered double-digit save performances in eight games, including a career high 17 saves vs. Yale. He weathered some big storms, facing more shots than most Division One goalies saw last season (486). Pushing Round for playing time will be junior Wills Curley and freshman Jack Kelly.
The Bears’ defensive midfield will be led by junior Daniel Mellynchuk, who is also a mainstay on Brown’s man-down unit that ranked 5th nationally. Joining Mellynchuk in the defensive midfield is sophomore Nick Weeden, sophomore Corbin Booker, freshman John Yozzo-Scaperrotta, sophomore Jordan Schochet, and senior Abafemi Alese.
Junior Tommy Capone has overcome injuries to become Brown’s number one face-off specialist. He came up big in Brown’s must-win game against Dartmouth, winning 15 of 21 face-offs to launch the Bears into the Ivy League Playoffs. His 54 ground balls ranked second on the Brown team. Tiffany also expects sophomore Jordan Schochet and freshman Will Gural to contribute in the face-off X.