After posting back-to-back double digit win seasons, the Muhlenberg men’s lacrosse team hopes to earn a trip back to the Centennial Conference playoffs for the first time since 2008.
With a core group of returners on both the offense and defense as well as a promising collection of newcomers, expectations are higher than ever for the 2020 season. During the pre-season, the team has devoted much of their time to strength and conditioning, as well as improving basic skills.
Midfielder Frank Caterina ‘20 stated, “Every year we have tried to dedicate more of our time and energy to preparing out of season,” and “this past pre-season has not been an exception.” Caterina credits the team’s off-season workouts with strength and conditioning coach Darin Thomas as an important ingredient for a successful regular season.
Fellow midfielder James Dalimonte ‘22 also recognizes that the team’s high expectations have pushed them harder than ever in their off-season training and attributes their success to new training programs that help improve vital skills. Dalimonte recognizes that “a weakness that we have is staying with the fundamentals. Throughout the course of the season it is very easy to get away from the basics, so we have implemented wall ball and certain training techniques to keep us on track,” he said.
Caterina praises his teammates’ devotion to these new training mechanisms, as players hit the wall and practice their stick skills on their own time. With many experienced returners on this year’s roster, the Mules hope to continue their winning ways and play in the competitive Centennial Conference Championship.
Dalimonte notes that “one strength we have is we are returning almost all of our starters who each contribute in their own way.” Both Ethan Grossman ‘21 and Dalimonte hope to continue to be two of the top offensive threats in the Centennial Conference, as they have each received multiple conference honors since they have arrived at Muhlenberg.
Dalimonte also received an All-American honorable mention from the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association last year.
Scott Fayan ‘20, PJ Lombara ‘21 and Jake Whittingslow ‘20 also return as top offensive options for the Mules. Matt Hager ‘21, Kyle Lando ‘22 and Alexander Giaquinto ‘21 return to the starting lineup as the Mules’ top defenders, while midfielder Frankie Feaster ‘21 looks to continue dominating the X and building on his program record for career faceoffs won. Garrett Pope ‘20 returns for his third season as the Mules’ starting goalie and looks to build off of a successful 2019 campaign in which he earned a spot on the All-Centennial Conference second team.
While the roster is overflowing with talent, Caterina finds that this year’s team has taken on new leadership roles and exclaims, “We have current players that are maturing into promising student-athletes with skill and leadership.”
Even with many key contributors returning and stepping up into leadership positions, both Caterina and Dalimonte recognize the immediate impact the freshmen class will have on the team. Caterina acknowledges that the newcomers will “fill some holes positionally,” while Dalimonte remarks on the advantages of having a young group.
“I would say as a young team we have gained more experience, chemistry and discipline,” said Dalimonte. “We have freshman players who have elevated the competition in practice and who are looking to contribute in a big way this year.”
The Mules open up the season on Feb. 15 on the road at FDU-Florham and play their first home game the following week against Scranton. Conference play opens up with a home game against Haverford on Mar. 25.