The year 2018 went into the record books as the most successful season in men’s lacrosse history. Their 11-7 record marked the most wins in a single season, and they shattered their previous mark for most goals in a season, eclipsing the previous mark of 150 with a staggering 205.
Individually, Mules on the 2018 team scattered themselves throughout the record book in virtually every statistical category. Face offs and ground balls? Frankie Feaster ‘20 dominated, now holding the records for most in each category in a single season and a career.
Saves? Garrett Pope ‘21 was third in the Conference and has the 5th most in a Muhlenberg single season.
Scoring? Ethan Grossman ‘21 lead the attack. As a freshman Grossman already holds the single season marks for points, goals and assists. He is second for most hat tricks in a single season too with seven. He is destined to shatter every career scoring statistical category by the end of his Muhlenberg tenure, even on pace to break some this season.
Enough about 2018. The 2019 season commences on Feb. 1 for spring sports (per Centennial Conference regulations), and this year’s team is working to build on last season’s success.
But expecting two successive seasons with great success can’t be realistic… right?
Well, maybe this team can set their expectations high.
“We return more than 30 student-athletes and a lot of playing experience from the 2018 team,” said Jake Plunket who will serve his fourth season as head men’s lacrosse coach. “Combined with young freshman talent, 4 transfers, and key returners from injury, we have extremely high expectations for this year’s team.”
To begin the 2018 season the Mules went on an eight game win streak, all against non- conference opponents. 2019 pits the Mules against some familiar non-conference opponents, like Drew University, Scranton University, Moravian College, and Susquehanna University. The two new opponents on the 2019 schedule are Southern Virginia – who they will be playing on the back end of the teams annual spring break trip – and St. Mary’s of Maryland.
This year’s program is better than last years program because we were young and now we have more experience. We worked hard on our sticks this offseason as well as us running a lot. We’re in great shape.
“I am most excited to start off the season as hot as we did last year because of how good we looked during the end of the spring,” said Grossman. “This year’s program is better than last year’s program because now we have more experience. We worked hard on our sticks this offseason as well as us running a lot. We’re in great shape.”
Plunket backed up his star attackman. “From a coaches perspective, the leadership and work ethic of our young team has been impressive in the offseason.” Plunket credited Muhlenberg Strength and Conditioning coach Darin Thomas for pushing the men in the weight room.
During the team’s conference schedule the Mules will have to prepare for tough battles. The Centennial is recognized as one of the best Division III conferences in the nation for men’s lacrosse. To end 2018 three Centennial Conference teams, Gettysburg (third), Dickinson (ninth), and Franklin & Marshall (thirteenth) were all ranked in the final national poll.
Last season the Mules captured two conference matchups, winning against Swarthmore and McDaniel in back to back contests. The win against Swat was the first win against a Centennial Conference opponent since 2014.
“We look to build off our big wins in the conference last season and compete for a spot in our conference tournament,” said Plunket.
Scott Fayan ‘20 believes in this programs talent, but admits that it takes more to be a playoff contender in such a strong Conference. “In a conference like ours where we won’t always be able to out-talent a team, we have to beat them in other areas; conditioning, hard work, and discipline,” said the junior attacker.
Depth is another strength of the 2019 program. Plunket calls this years team one of the deepest he has coached here.
“We probably have seven guys that could start at defense. It will be interesting to see who separates themselves,” Fayan said. The competition among different positions is something he believes will end up making this team better.
That defensive Fayan references stood out to other members of the team too. “Our teams greatest strength is having our whole defense return with some good freshman added to it, and Garrett Pope (goalie) backing them up.” Grossman said.
Feaster agreed explaining why the unit is so successful. “Our defense is always talking through slides and our offensive midfielders and attackmen are all becoming more vocal.”
With a new level of completeness, the 2019 Muhlenberg team has high expectations, and will likely land some new and familiar names throughout the record books. “We all hungry for success,” added Feaster. “There is only 1 speed in this program, and nobody is looking back.”