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Eric Trama sported a wide grin as he exited the gymnasium, playfully tossing his sweat drenched jersey in the direction of a teammate. The junior standout then departed back to his dormitory, his body language indicating as if getting up at 4 a.m. to lift weights had always been part of his Saturday morning routine.
QU lacrosse head coach Eric Feteke knew from the beginning it would only take hard work and more commitment to turn around a team that won just two games last season.
For Feteke, reviving an ailing program should not be a problem, not with a stronger Bobcat unit that has finally overcome the depth problem that has derailed them in prior seasons.
The team has been picked sixth in the America East Conference, according to the latest pre-season coaches’ poll.
With just two seniors returning, a great deal of that depth and strength lies within the junior class. Captain Eddie Morley or Commack, N.Y. and junior Josh Murray of Cheshire, Conn., will lead a strong group of midfielders. Morley has size and a great right hand, while Murray, the Conn. state player of the year in high school, is the sharpshooting go-to-guy.
Mike Stottler is an athletic leader with an accurate shot. Rounding out this quartet is senior slasher Leigh DiPace, who scored 11 goals last season while contributing two assists. Returning regular Sean McBride, a junior, and a trio of sophomores, John D’Ascoli, Chris Griffin, and Keith Yianacopolus, will provide a great deal of the depth for the middies. This trio amounted for pivotal goals and assists last season, and should see a lot of field time. Chad Bernstein is among the talented freshman, and will also see solid minutes.
The Bobcats have perhaps the most aptitude and depth in the attack, where three mainstays will control a majority of the minutes. This strong nucleus consists of the aforementioned Trama, junior Brian Vaccaro, and sophomore Jason Barratt.
Trama, of Lynbrook, N.Y., finished second in the team in points last season with 25, scoring on 17 goals and registering eight assists. The speedy, explosive dodger will be counted on to lead a well-balanced offense. Vaccaro is a workhorse that bulldozes his way to the net and finishes strong, while Barratt will use his strong shot and skill off-ball in the third starting slot.
Sophomore Ryan O’Mahoney will control the face-off duties, and he clearly showed that he will be a factor during fall ball.
The defensive starting lineup will likely consist of Long Island natives Kevin Browne, John Donnellan, and Walter Celenski. Donnellan is credited as the Bobcats’ most competitive player, as he is extremely valuable in 1-on-1 situations. Browne plays a physical game and is effective off the ball, while Celenski is also a physical specimen who bleeds enthusiasm and intensity every time he is on the field. Mike Hennessy and Adam Bartholomew, both tremendous team players, will also be very helpful at longpole. Hennessy was third in the team in groundballs last year with 24.
Returning goalie James Nastro, who had a 11.47 GAA last year, does not flake under pressure and uses his body effectively in making eye-popping saves. The junior has solid backups in sophomore Will Zullo, as well as freshmen Stephen Pietrasko and Roger Fish, who was an All-American as a senior a year ago.
With the regular early morning workouts and grueling training sessions out of the way, the Bobcats hope that all the hard work and commitment will convert to a winning season.
Action begins March 5, as the Bobcats head over to Hanover, N.H. to face the Big Green of Dartmouth College.