“We Wanted the Same Things”

That was the headline I wanted for this article, which I was imagining writing well-over a year ago. It was what popped into my head while I was watching the Rowan Club Men’s Lacrosse team huddle around the trophy that they had just won at the 2016 Fall Brawl Tournament in Severn Park, Maryland. It was such a satisfying moment for all of us who were there, as well as for the parents and alumni who heard about it. The team, unfortunately, hadn’t been victorious in the tournament until that year. So, taking the championship that year was a monumental stepping stone for the team.

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Not only that, that tournament win was also an invitation for the good vibes to come. It also served as a lens to see the other victories to be had down the line. This was a new team. They had new legs and new sticks to put Rowan on the board and increase Rowan’s lacrosse presence on the map. I was beyond proud of this team, as evidenced by the group photo I used for the background wallpaper on my class computer for four months. It was just a moment I had been waiting for, and seeing them so happy that night reminded me of how much I really grew to love those guys. It wasn’t really my place to. Yet, when it came down to it, their victory felt like my own victory.

It was because I had invested so much of myself into them. It wasn’t just in a professional capacity, but also because I just found myself becoming friends with a team of endearing people. So, it was a personal venture as much as a professional one.

Of course, for what it’s worth, I didn’t think it would get this far in the first place. Life has a funny way of showing you just what you’re missing when you sit and look back on the memories of the past. Even though I may forget the complex details of the days that made such a journey possible, I know it wasn’t made out of nothing. In fact, the more I think back to the early days, the more clearly I can remember the color and even the innocence of the time. It was a meeting and a circumstance that could only be described as divine intervention.

I say that because becoming so involved with the team was the last thing I intended to do when I came to Rowan over two years ago. It wasn’t in my plan to get involved because I honestly thought the lacrosse players at Rowan were a little preppy and maybe even a little pretentious. I had just come from my own team at Ocean County College and had given much thought to playing on the club team at Rowan. My shallow judgements got in the way though. I’ll say it was a good thing that they did, because if I had thought a different way of the team, the past three years would have been a much different journey. It quite possibly could’ve been a similar journey to O.C.C. too, which would be counterproductive, beings that I came to Rowan for the sake of change.

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It’s amazing how fragile time looks in reverse. I was aiming for change by coming to Rowan but I didn’t quite want it in the way it was coming. That change was coming at the same as when I was going to class that first day. I was walking on my way to “Online Journalism” and thinking about what to expect, probably thinking I already knew everything. Well, I also thought I could read a person by one glance, as I did with another young man who walked out of a house across the street from me, at the same time as when I was walking to class. He was a kind of short and slightly-stocky guy with a black t-shirt that had lacrosse sticks on it. I immediately started drawing conclusions as we both walked in the same direction down the street. I pondered what connections he must’ve had with lacrosse and how I kind of wished I could talk to him about it. I got to the point in my mind where I stubbornly concluded that he was probably too aloof or too self-involved to be friends with me….you know, as well as the fact he was literally just a random guy who just so happened to be walking at the same time as me.

That could’ve been where the story ended, but no, that scene was just a setup, among other things. I watched as that guy coincidentally (I’ll explain my thoughts on “coincidence” later on) walked into the same building I was about to go into for class. I was in for even more surprises when he came into the same exact Online Journalism class as me. I found out his name is Brian Mahoney and he was the social media guy as well as a goalie for the club men’s lacrosse team at Rowan. After some typical conversation between athletes and “do you know *insert possible, mutual-friend name?*” I came to conclude that it was nice having another lacrosse-head in the room. He was on the radio, television, and film side of the media, whereas I decided that I would be sticking with written journalism. Those were good skill sets to have going into this class, as well as skills we would get a chance to work on too.

The class was basically like a normal journalism class but with a much bigger emphasis on the multimedia aspects of online news sites. This meant like the picture usage, the videos, and overall interactivity of a site. As such, the main task of this class was in fact, for each of us in the class to create a blog, which we would be maintaining for the course of the semester. To emphasize the creative power of niches in journalism, we were given free-reign for deciding what the topics (or “beats”) of our blogs would be. So, I had the perfect opportunity to dive deep and run a blog about the things that interested me.

Only problem was figuring out what exactly interested me.

I honestly wasn’t sure what that was. I felt like I had spent so much time working and going to school, that I didn’t have too much time for hobbies. I tried my best to come up with a cool blog beat idea, but I was caught between too broad and not physically feasible. I had the inclination to create an ethics blog, due to my interest in philosophy. My professor told me that was too broad of a topic. I couldn’t imagine tailoring the idea down to a manageable beat. I thought about doing a music blog, but I had similar issues, beings that I would need a vehicle to get to concerts. So, I was kind of stuck and frustrated. After some long pondering and pride-squashing, I decided that I would take initiative with the sport that helped establish my identity. I was going to create a blog about those “preppy lax-bros,” that I had previously vilified. Oh, believe me, there was enough irony for a 32-man lacrosse team (as well as myself).

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Well, as for the blogging aspect of this, let’s just say I wasn’t going into any of this as a genius web-designer or anything. I had little prior experience on the web like that, other than a blog I made for my Media Writing II class at OCC….a satire blog, which I used to make fun of ABC T.V. shows. I used the wrong site and it was deleted in a month. So, using a WordPress site was a new method with my old-man style of utilizing that new method. Well, whether I knew what I was doing or not, I started creating my lacrosse blog. I started coming up with cool names for one. I needed a name that was hip and memorable. Something that people wouldn’t be bored with in two seconds.

Coming up with a name went something like this (in essence)…

“Let’s see, so lacrosse players have face-offs….Rowan’s mascot is a Prof (owl-thingy)….face-off….Prof…I know!

I’ll call it “Face-Prof!””

Looking back now, I can see why professor emailed me back after I told him the name to tell me he thought the name was corny. Yet, I was determined to roll with it…and man, did I roll!

So, I inquired with Brian in class about my idea. The next thing I knew, I was going to the team’s first practice of the fall semester, the season and the school year. I even brought my short stick with me, I guess as a means of gaining trust or something. Kind of being a way to say I understood the game and I wasn’t just some kid looking for a grade. I went to that practice late at night at like 9:30 and waited for the team to come around to unlock the gate to the football field. Luckily for me, I went and put on a brave face so that I could talk to these guys. It wasn’t a big deal, right? I just had to explain to a bunch of lacrosse players I didn’t know that I was going to be running a blog about them. Easy enough.

I approached the young-man who happened to be the vice president for the team, a big, thick guy with a clipboard. I asked him who was the president and where I could find him. “He’s over there,” the man said, directing me to another guy, who was walking onto the field with his bag and a D-pole. This was the one and only Rob Zybrick, who most people just call “Z.” A strong-statured guy who just kind of radiated authority. After some nervous explaining, we cleared up that I would be following them for the class. Of course, my connection with Brian kind of helped too.

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I was a little bit nervous about having to stay until 11pm, but I got to enjoy the company of lacrosse players again. I got to meet a lot of cool ones too, and most importantly, I found out that Brian has a seriously sick playlist. It felt like every other song was by Zac Brown Band. Anyways, after I discovered that the team wasn’t all that bad, I decided to stick around with this way of “reporting.” Since my class required me to cover the team and do different projects on them, being present at all of their practices would be crucial. This took some motivation some nights, especially when my walk to the football field was pretty far. I honestly didn’t mind it all the time though, because I got to learn more about this incredible group of guys.

As well as myself.

The next four months would tell the story of me becoming acquainted with the team, as well as my growing abilities as a journalist. Being in an online journalism class also required me to be moderately proficient with computers and other technology. This was fun, considering that most of the time, I labeled myself as being “computer illiterate.” Being with a sports team was something where a good camera or a phone with recording ability would be a monumental help. Of course, I didn’t have anything but my sideways flip-phone and a Microsoft tablet that I bought from a community college bookstore.

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Throughout the class, I had to create audio clips, Q & A’s, photo galleries, videos, and a bunch of other cool stuff that turned out to be really difficult to accomplish on a tablet. I was ready to just go for it though, even if it meant taking fuzzy pictures at a home game and just hoping that my professor would see some merit in them. I got to utilize the voice-recording technology in my tablet as well, which came in handy when I got to interview Masta Zee himself (that’s Z’s other nickname) for a Q & A session. I got to sit down with him and find out what kind of leader he is, and from that point on, I really began to respect him for that. That blog post gave me a huge boost with site views, more than I would ever expect (about 190 views within the first 24 hours). Tell you what, that was the boost I needed too.

From there, I began envisioning the blog almost as a real, bona fide lacrosse blog. It was still the very beginning but I could really see a future for it. As such, I put together a roster for the team after modestly taking pictures of each player on the team with my bulky and awkward tablet. The first day of practice was a good press moment for the team, beings that they had a turn-out of about 60 kids coming out to try out for the team. By the time I got to take the roster shots, the team had just made their selection for their 32-man roster. So, that meant 32 names and jersey numbers for me to remember.

Among those I “had to remember” was a long-stick middie named Ryan Francisco. Also known as the team’s “hype machine” as per Mahoney’s nomenclature, Ryan just stood out as the most energetic guy on the team. Just this relatively short but strong LSM with a surf-shack kind of vibe to him. His goal was to become a math teacher and coach lacrosse at his high school, which also bred two other phenomenal players I met that year. Along with Ryan were TJ, and Alex, who both ran super-hard as middies and established themselves as dependable shooters. They, along with the team’s hardened string of attackmen and a few bulldozing middies really set the tempo in many games. I got to meet the computer science wiz, a middie named Chris Deck, who was just literally like a rhino on the field. Dan Berger was another one, a marketing major who had interests and hobbies that ranged from rugby to slacklining, along with lacrosse of course.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There was also Alex Mulholland, a face-off specialist who had to be one of the strongest, bulkiest, most carnivorous-looking middies I’ve ever seen. I sat down with him for a Q & A with him a little while after Z, and it was refreshing to find that Alex came from the same town as me. So, having a guy from home was pretty nice. Then, of course, you had the goalies, Mahoney and two freshman (both of which are about to be seniors next year). On defense were a couple of seniors (AKA “adults”) such as Z, then the big guy from the first night (known formally as “The Mizz”), Dwight Tucci with his injured knee-cap, and a finance-loving LSM named Ryan Fisher. As the season progressed, my respect for these guys did too.

As the semester dragged on (literally dragged on), I saw a lot of progress with the blog. I got to interview the then deputy editor for Lacrosse Magazine, Corey McLaughlin over email. That was an awesome experience, getting to learn from a professional in the field. I wrote about the breast cancer walk the team did every year (and the Zumba!). I learned about the team’s participation in the Fall Brawl tournament in Maryland as well as their annual hosting of the Lax for Donnie Tournament. The latter is a very moving and now, pretty personal event that I had the honor to cover during my time with the team. I’ll get more into that later. I’ll just say this, the story of Donnie and his legacy was something that really resonated with me. When I got to do my first article about the tournament, I learned about how to treat a story like his with respect. I wanted to be mature and professional but still compassionate toward those who would read it.

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I later got to visit St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia for the team’s fall season ender against St. Joe’s and Temple. Those two teams were dominant powerhouses at the time, but I still could appreciate the feeling of being at a lacrosse game again. Despite having to film the whole thing with a bulky tablet, I really grew a newfound respect for this team. Rowan lost to both teams, but I was at a point where I didn’t want that to be the end of it all. I didn’t want to ride that wave halfway. Consequently, I interviewed a star attackman from the team who was about say goodbye to the team to chase after his career goals. They called him “Hollywood” but all I know is that after I published that article about him, the views for Face-Prof WENT STRAIGHT THROUGH THE ROOF!

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Photo belongs to Richard Partheymuller II

I couldn’t believe it. Such a massive influx of page views and people leaving me comments about getting more views and stuff, I was in shock. By the end of the semester and the class, I had (roughly) about 1,400 views on the site. Stuff like that was huge for me because I guess I had lower expectations, but it just propelled my desire to stay with the team as they went into their next semester. The spring season was coming soon, and I was on the fence, but somehow still determined to stick around. I had grown to like Zybrick, Mahoney, Francisco, Mulholland, and all of those wonderful wackos who let me tag along that semester. When it was time for the spring season to start, my mind was determined. From that point on, I wouldn’t be doing it for a grade. I would be taking on this blog for the sake of my growth as a journalist, but most importantly, because it just kind of felt like where I belonged.

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Once the weight of class assignments had been lifted off of me, I felt kind of free. Yet, I also kind of felt unsure and nervous, because I would be doing things based off what I learned from that class. It was one thing to pass the class but now I had different expectations on me. I had loose expectations from the team to give them a good medium for publicity, but I also had expectations of myself to be able to give them whatever professionalism I had. Yet, it would become a little tough at times. For the beginning of the semester, the team couldn’t use the football field because of the cold. So, the practices were held at an inside facility in the next town over. Which wasn’t too bad, because I got carpool with Zybrick and Dwight, but the toll of my spring semester began getting to me. A lot of the time, I couldn’t pay attention during practice because I was focused on reading the Bible for my Introduction to the Bible class. As such, my mind was often split.

The semester went on and the demands of classes got tougher. Papers were piling up and interviews for class articles were accumulating. That’s what you get for taking on 12 credits I suppose, but I didn’t want to give up. I didn’t sleep that much anyways. Well, whatever my circumstances, I still managed to get articles done for the team. These included an article on the return of Dwight after his knee injury was cleared to play. According to him, the dang thing just popped one day at a game because of bad footing during a shot the year prior. He read the article and told me thanks while I was getting food at Rowan’s mess hall. With that, I felt like what I was doing had meaning. Like it wasn’t going unnoticed and wasn’t for nothing. Confidence boosts like that got me fired up for when the team finally begun having real games.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That little space wasn’t terrible though, honestly. For an inside-turf field, they gave us a lot of space. I normally would sit outside of the field where the team was practicing. Luckily for me, I had a very nice, glass barrier stretching around the parameter of the field. This meant that 90mph shots would have more bark than bite if they missed the goal. The faulty phone signal was a little annoying and the heating vent behind me sometimes made weird noises, but altogether, I didn’t mind the switch.

Then, everything changed when the team was told that they would not be returning to the football field. For the rest of the semester, we would be going over the West Campus sports field……a giant swathe of grass in on the side of the road next to the highway exit and a huge farm. We had our reservation for after the rugby team’s practice and let me tell you, it was COLD! Such a flat land really just invited the whipping winds to bulldoze through all 34 of us. I was lucky enough to catch rides with Zybrick there too, and I held on for dear life when he made the sharp turns on that dirt road going to the field. No matter what mood these guys were all in, I made sure to be there and help with unloading the equipment from the cars. I knew it wasn’t really my role, but I still wanted to play a part. I was a journalist, but I was a person first. I became a journalist because I had a voice, not because I was looking for page views.

As a journalist, I had some more confidence going into one of the team’s first games, at Williamson College in Pennsylvania. It was a little easier, considering that I had just found my old iPod that a friend gave me for Christmas one year. The thing had a camera for shooting video and taking pictures and I was so ready to act professional. I mean, I filmed the game and posted it to YouTube like a pro…even the part where Mizz broke his head on the field and ran off. The game was awesome because the team won and everything. I certainly learned a lesson in resourcefulness though. Tell you what, throughout the whole experience with the team, I’ve really learned how to find an outlet on pretty much any field. Having electronics meant I had to scope out the field for places to charge. Usually, I’d watch the team watch me as I awkwardly wandered around for an outlet. I was a man on a mission! I also learned to use the bathroom before the game and to wear warm clothing.

I put out the pictures and posted the article about that game as well as one after it, and before I knew it, people were recognizing me for it. One of my friends from the rugby team asked me if I wanted to do blogging for his team, I happily declined. I basically treated it as if I would be cheating on the lacrosse team if I did. Those games flew behind me into the past, but I was about to get hammered by a whole month of nonstop lacrosse action….in Maryland, of course! Where else besides one of the lacrosse capitols of the East Coast? I didn’t completely know what I was getting myself into, but I tagged along, and before we knew it, we were driving past the gigantic battleship museum in Baltimore! It was awesome for me, just to be able to go on a trip (outside of NJ to boot!) like that. We stayed in a hotel where I was lucky enough to get a whole bed to myself.

I went along with the team to those games that weekend and did somethings I never thought I would. These included tagging along with the team as they won three games, which meant videos and pictures being uploaded while I was still in my hotel room. I stood through a massive wind gust that tore through the field the first night unexpectedly, with cherry blossom petals going everywhere. We even got to visit Washington D.C.! We walked around and saw the memorials, while the very-much-publicized Shiba Inu Club strolled around with their doggos and everybody else flew their kites. T.J. broke up a fight between two little birds that were trying to kill each other and we eventually got to stand in silence in the Lincoln Memorial.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The team had lots of fun the night before, but they wouldn’t let the eh hem, fun, get in the way of being serious about the games in the morning. I remember that for one game, we had to wake up at 7am. This didn’t stop some from going over to IHOP the night before or staying up working on blog stuff (eh hem). The morning game was absolutely freezing. Due to the cold, the game was limited to 30 minutes. The team inevitably won, but I had neglected my duty as score/shot record keeper (a duty I decided on myself). When I had to tell Mizz that I didn’t keep score or anything, he gave me a subtle look of disappointment and I felt it in my pride. I felt like I could’ve done so much better for the team. I decided that from that point on, I would work harder toward being what that team needed. Basically, I wanted to show that I wasn’t just there for the trip.

The team eventually lost that day to West Chester University that same day, but I went home to Glassboro feeling more-connected to the team than ever. Which was kind of bad in some ways (I’ll explain later). Sharing a car-ride back with a mad Zybrick and a silent SUV was awkward, but I felt more respect for Zybrick as a leader from that tournament. He showed me how much he had really invested into the team. He had a better idea of what it meant when the team succeeded, and what it meant when the team lost because of simple mistakes and lack of cooperation. It was hard for him to have to come back to NJ with a loss, as well as T.J., who ended up injuring his knee pretty good. With everybody in a funk, I knew that the best thing for me to do was to get to work…literally the night I got home, I went to a computer lab at Rowan and stayed up super-late to publish an article.

One little exchange from the D.C. trip really kind of gave me some reassurance though. I remember overhearing Mulholland saying that he had talked to a Princeton player and told the kid “yeah, and we have a traveling reporter too. And the guy just said “what?”” I don’t know, but the way Mulholland said that, “traveling reporter,” made me think “okay, so at least I’m appreciated. I’m in a unique situation and not every team gets this.” I went on to use that as fuel for the fire. I just wanted to make sure the team knew that I cared and I worked my butt off to give them the publicity they deserved. In some ways too, I still felt like I had to prove myself to them. So that I could feel like they took me seriously.

Yet, doing all of that was almost a contact sport in itself though. I remember well, one game when I was eating lunch in Rowan’s downstairs lounge, when I came to find out that the team would be facing Temple that day. I was absolutely not prepared, but I found that it was going to start in like five minutes to boot! It felt awful because I wasn’t too prepared and the team inevitably lost (although there was this really cool rip-goal by Billy Van Dyke from like 15 yards out, which made it passable). Yet, I just kind of felt defeated myself and had even more reason to fight harder…even if I was putting all that pressure to fight onto myself.

Enter “Orphan Kitten Phase.”

So, I really became hell-bent on putting my best self forward. This mainly meant that I would work harder than ever before. I had many nights where I stayed up until 1 or 2am at the computer lab, editing and putting together highlight reels. I would be content by the fact I had that time to myself. It was a lot to take on when I couldn’t focus on other things though, like the assignments I had to do. I felt like I was always racing around for the combination of my classes and the blog. It took me a whole week to write the Maryland article and I basically dreaded it because I was so stressed out. Yet, I wanted to show my dependability.

I was still working through some inner issues, which showed their ugly issues with this media venture. It was such a race, trying to get stay on the team’s good side by producing good content. I guess somewhere along the line though, I started confusing my journalistic subjects for friends. There, I said it. I got so locked into the process of being with the team that I inevitably thought we were becoming friends. I know that isn’t how it is supposed to be as a journalist, but I guess I was kind of placing my loyalty in the team because I had spent so much time with them already.

I remember spending a crazy amount of time working on a promotional video for the Lax for Donnie Tournament. I remember how disappointed I was when neither the team nor my friends were acting too excited about it. I put in all that work and it barely got any likes on Facebook. I also remember walking around Rowan’s Rec Center gymnasium for Relay for Life that year with the team. I began getting really frustrated and confused, because I wondered how wrong I had been for becoming attached to them all. I realized that I shouldn’t had expected any friendly ties with them. I was just the reporter. So, it just felt like I was at a crossroad for my future with the team.

It felt like my ties with Zybrick and Mizz and Mahoney and everybody else were all superficial and contingent on my performance. I still wanted to put my best effort out there, but I was beginning to see things as they were…or at least in a different light.

Then, the team finally hosted the Lax for Donnie Tournament and I got an inside glimpse of this awesome annual tradition for the team. Donnie was one of the team’s original founders from back in 2007. One night during Homecoming weekend that year, Donnie was murdered while walking around Rowan. Flash-forward eight years, the team found out about this cold case and decided to make a tournament in-tribute to Donnie. The idea was spearheaded mainly by Zybrick and Mahoney, because they along with others felt that Donnie deserved a respectful tribute in honor of him. They had the initial tournament the year before but knowing this made me feel honored to be involved. Donnie’s story touched me because it could’ve been my story. So, that morning, I woke up early and headed over to the big fields in Washington Township to help out in any way I could.

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As to be expected, Zybrick was already at work when I got there. Part of my mind was on the tournament as a whole, while the other half spent time just wondering what was going on in Zybrick’s head. I tend to get concerned about people’s mental states, you know? Yet, when I got myself mentally ready, Zybrick had already beaten me to it. His mind was just dead-set on doing everything he could to make Lax for Donnie work that year. He and some others on the team had made such a connection with Donnie and his parents that making this a special tournament was a strong prerogative. More so, was making sure that this tournament was about Donnie and not about them. That focus of the tournament and the drive that the team had and still has to keep it alive, are what tailored my heart into the tournament as well. I watched the team lose in the tournament championship, but I took to heart what message the guys wanted to get across. Donnie wasn’t just another player who tragically got swept up into Rowan’s history. He was more than a name.

The story of Donnie grounded the team and reminded me as well that it could’ve been any of us. More importantly, was that Donnie had a legacy. One that the team has planned in advanced to preserve.

I later on found out that day that a friend of mine from home had passed away from an overdose. It created a stinging memory for me of that day, but I went to the funeral nonetheless. I missed a game that weekend, but I guess having that loss of a friend really kind of made me slow down. It made me want to care about people more, and I guess my investment with team became more apparent too. I remember how it felt as the year dwindled down.

I remember being at one of the last practices and talking to the club sports supervisor. I told her about how as a journalist, I’m really not supposed to grow attached to the people I cover. That’s true, but I emotionally told her with a smirk on my face that I had done that anyways. She was like (paraphrased) “Oh, is it like how you can’t bring an orphan kitten home and get attached to it?” Well, I think I said “yeah,” but looking back now, I’m glad I did. I knew everybody’s name, their jersey number, their hometown, their major, maybe what songs they liked, and what injuries or allergies they were dealing with. I remember telling a kid at Fall Brawl in Maryland (again, very paraphrased) “yeah, I’ve been following the team. I started it for a class and now I get to travel. The team gets media coverage and I get 32 friends!” So, it’s easy to see why I saw this as more than a hobby or a resume-builder.

Yet, it was coming to a close for that year. Before I knew it, there was only one game left. This last article wasn’t a final, but for that year, it was part of the finale. The team had its game against West Chester coming up and I was bracing for the change. After a valiant game with a little subbing confusion, I watched the team lose yet again to West Chester. It was hard to watch but I knew that one way or another, this team would patch up and get moving. That’s their style, you know? The “get up anyway” kind of attitude. Well, I listened to the seniors give their farewell addresses/speeches and inevitably gave my own to the seniors. A few days beforehand, I had went and developed some portraits of the seniors and slid them into magnetic frames. I gave these to the seniors as parting gifts and as a way of saying “thank you” for letting me tag along for the experience. We all headed to the cars and left the parking lot. I contemplated everything that had happened that semester while “Fire and the Flood” was playing on the radio. Yet, before all of that, I got to take a picture with Brian, who inconsequently was slated to be the next president of the club. Mike Conroy photobombed us and the memory was made.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In my opinion, the most prominent moment of this farewell was when I gave Zybrick his photo. I somehow managed to get the photo to him one day via an encounter with Dwight at the gym. I placed a note inside the frame though, in which I referenced Zybrick as my “friend.” The way he responded and reciprocated my words was a testament to what the future held. I no longer had an athlete to cover journalistically, but instead, I gained a trusted friend and ally. He wasn’t the only one either. Brian, Ryan, Alex, so many of them became people who I still keep in contact with to this day.

I didn’t want to quit though. I still had one more year of college left. So, after some decision-making and some hard-boiled planning….I decided that there would be a round two!! I would soon be referencing to Brian as “Boss” and rewinding my mind for that whole adventure all over again!

Ay caramba!!

Well, you got this far in the article, I applaud you (even if you skipped every paragraph to get to this one). I’m not going to torture you with all of the awesome events that took place in my second and last year with the team. I loved it even more than the first, so, I will explain that I absorbed a lot more than good vibes. I went into a new semester of new players who had no idea who I was. Although I initially played it off as if I was actually a player (for non-narcissistic reasons, of course!), I knew I was right where I belonged. I was not only a veteran at this “hobby” of following the team, but I was also a super-senior in college. I was going to graduate in May of that year. So, I knew I wanted to give the team all I could without going crazy like the year before.

I had a similar process to my initial run though. I had the typical posts, like the “meet the officers” post, the roster, and the cancer walk article. I met every single new player, from an ace attackman with feet that could run on a razor, to a trio of young middies. I met a computer wiz attackman who was nice enough to bring me home a lot, as well as some super-strong defenders. There was a future doctor in the disguise as a FOGO, along with a wrestler kid who wound up pinning me at my own wrestling practice. Altogether, these guys gave me a lot of hope going into that season. It was simple and exciting, yet rattled my brain with anticipation. I knew something was going to have to be different, beings that the year before kind of hit a lot of bumps. I needed some reassurance that I wouldn’t be writing a lot of sad articles.

Then Fall Brawl 2016 happened.

Part of me expected something bigger than usual, given the team’s new legs. I just wasn’t 100 percent optimistic with a tournament victory. There was a reputation/stigma that got attached to the team, saying that “Rowan can’t finish tournaments.” Yet, I remember how much Brian adamantly wanted that trophy at Fall Brawl. We drove all the way down to Maryland yet again, and the team was not about to just go back to Rowan without a great story to tell. Looking back, I remember a few things. I remember Alex Chalef’s elbow getting hurt (and him declining from seeing the video I took of it happening). I remember the weird story of somebody’s concussion treatment tactics (which involved hitting his head again). I remember how badly I had to use the bathroom (lesson learned). Most importantly, I remember the moment when the team was watching the last seconds run out during the championship game against Virginia Commonwealth University.

After that last second, the whistle blew and Rowan had its first Fall Brawl Championship victory!!! The sun was going down and that field was covered in a shadow because of it. I was set that day on being as professional as possible. When the team started dancing while warming up, they tried getting me to dance too. I declined, as I felt I wasn’t really supposed to as a reporter. Yet, when that team got that trophy and started raising it up in the air, I couldn’t help getting emotional in a pretty unprofessional way. It was so weird though, because at one point, the people who organized the tournament brought out some shirts. They were probably like XLs, but I didn’t care, because one of the Rowan players gave me one. Now, I didn’t feel like I should’ve gotten one since I didn’t play or anything, but seeing the team cheering as I thought about it, I realized something. I realized that my bond with the team wasn’t an ordinary partnership.

I don’t think it was ever meant to be either. I mean, I remember one time during the school year my super-senior year, where I sat outside of a sports journalism class. I was so discouraged because I overheard the professor say to the class (paraphrased), “and don’t ever, ever, cheer for a team while reporting while in the media box.” I thought to myself “cheer?!! Well, I guess I messed up with that one.” I felt downhearted and convicted. I knew I had been doing that since I began with the team. I cheered for them at every game and a lot of the time, I was right there on the sidelines with them. If I was to evaluate my time with the team by journalistic standards, I failed in that aspect.

Yet, part of me didn’t care if I failed or not. I didn’t want to care what my journalism contemporaries thought. I didn’t care if my professors and my classmates or anybody else took upon themselves to look down on me for growing attached to the team. I wasn’t there just for the look of it anyways. God had me there for a reason, and a great one at that. I didn’t become a journalist to acquire a fancy, bulky resume and numerous accolades. I was with the team because we had already been through so much together. I rejoiced when they won, I felt pained when they lost. I laughed with them, and I felt the bitter silence with them. I bared whipping winds on those fields with them and endured 26 degree temperatures that froze the joints in my hip. I interviewed people with popped knees and a Marine Corp. veteran. I walked alongside the Reflection Pool and I met the parents of Donnie Farrell. I watched miracles unfold on those lacrosse fields.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You can’t tell me that it wasn’t something special.

All that came about from this team and everything that I learned from the experience not only built me up as a journalist, but as a person. I learned about not caring what people thought. I learned about diligence and stamina in the face of loads of work. I learned resourcefulness and most importantly, I learned why I am a journalist in the first place. It’s for people like those in that team, who worked so hard to get to that trophy. To finally get that traction and find hope in their season and beyond. I believe they wanted it for each other and they really wanted to see the team succeed. Throwing my “professionalism” to the ground, I got in with the team and cheered along while they lifted the trophy. I was not ashamed or embarrassed, I was proud of this team.

They were more than a beat. Check out this video I made before I said goodbye to the team last year.

I had formed such a special bond with this team that I was not about to regret in that moment.

Because we wanted the same things.

-Thank you to the entire team and everybody else who made Face-Prof Lacrosse, all those amazing experiences and those memories possible.

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2017 Seniors: Take It All In

Nobody knows what tomorrow is going to bring. Try as we may, none of us can predict the future. Some have plans for the future, some are willing to wing it, and some are dreading the plans that they haven’t make yet. Some are wondering if there is luck on their side. Some are wondering what could go wrong and what could go right. Then, there are some, like the graduating seniors of the Rowan’s Men’s Club Lacrosse team, who may be just wondering if there is a life beyond this week.

The directions they mean to go in hold so much for them. Whether the future reveals itself quickly or gradually, these seniors can see themselves pursuing it all with confidence. Being at Rowan shaped them with the tools they need to become successful, while lacrosse did something else. Of course, the classrooms were where they trained their minds, but training their hearts, that happened on the field.

It is with those trained hearts and minds that these six amazing seniors brace themselves for the next chapter. Not just a new beginning, but a chance at everything they seek to pursue. This is their time.

#4 Brian Mahoney-Team President, Social Media and Marketing Manager, and Goalie

Bachelor’s of Arts in Radio/Television/ and Film

Radio/Television/ and Film major with minors in Marketing, Journalism, and New Media

Brian Mahoney took the reigns of the team from Rob Zybrick last year, and throughout the course of this season, Mahoney has shown just how capable he is as a leader. Mahoney kept a professional and mature reputation with the team, as well as the many teams the Profs’ have faced. Mahoney’s encouraging words at the end of every game were a staple to his leadership-style. The performance of his team this season is a testament to the hard work that he and the rest of the E-board put into this program. Mahoney plans to continue working with American Aerospace Technologies, Inc. Along with that, he wishes to work as a digital marketer in New York City.

 

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#21 Nick Scardilli-Defensive Coordinator, Defensive-Middie

Bachelor’s of Science in Civil Engineering

Civil Engineering

Nick Scardilli had a productive year as defensive coordinator, using his keen-sense of direction to make the team’s line of defensive-middies do their jobs. Scardilli took charge in practice, to become a strong component to the team’s planning squad. Scardilli was a hardworking student, claiming the Rec Center’s Male Scholar Athlete of the Year award. Scardilli will go on to work for Weeks Marine, Inc. as a staff engineer.

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#87 Ryan Gallagher-Attack-man

Bachelor’s of Science in Civil/Environmental Engineering

Civil/Environmental Engineering

Ryan Gallagher was a key component to Rowan’s offense. With a dependable righty shot and the ability to switch between attack and middie, Gallagher became a true force to watch. Gallagher proved to be adaptable, working exceptionally well with Gorzynski and Soravilla this season. Gallagher will be going off to become a staff engineer for the municipal engineering division of T&M Associates.

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#98 Chris Deck-Middie

Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science

Computer Science

Chris Deck was a tank at midfield, with a consistent ability to plow through incoming heat. Deck was also a dependable offensive-man. He was consistently useful for shot opportunities and possession-shots. His ability to play through injuries was also admirable. Deck will be working for TD Bank as a member of their cyber-security department.

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#11 Ryan Francisco-Secretary, Long-Stick Middie, Defensive-Middle

Bachelor’s of Arts in Secondary Education & Mathematics

Math and Education

Ryan Francisco was and still is respected and loved by his team. Mahoney himself refers to Francisco as the team’s “hype-machine.” This rings true, as Francisco was the team’s dependable fireball on the sidelines. Francisco’s knowledge of the game and levelheadedness made him the brother that the team appreciated. His journey will continue to lead him to places that will utilize his personality. Francisco will go on to become a math teacher and spend his time as a lacrosse coach.

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#66 Mike Conroy –Long-Stick Middie

Bachelor’s of Science in Civil/Environmental Engineering

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Mike Conroy had to carry some extra weight this season, due to both Tom Case and Ryan Fisher graduating last year. Conroy took the challenge with a smile on his face. Conroy took the field confidently and with strong stamina. He sported his characteristic positive attitude whenever he was at a practice or game. His work with Francisco and Steve Cupo at LSM kept the midfield a well-controlled place. Although not officially graduating until next year, Conroy will eventually be going on to work as either a structural engineer or a geotechnical engineer for a big company in New York.

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It’s not the end of everything, it’s the beginning of everything. This is the week where the fun of celebrating will temporarily eclipse everything beyond it. The future is coming fast, and ready or not, it will reveal itself in the way it chooses. Nobody can predict the future.

For these guys though, that’s okay. They’re going to get up anyway.

Congratulations, All Six Graduating Seniors!

 

 

 

Profs Show Strengths in Season-Ending Playoff Game Vs. West Chester

Wings were flaming hot for the Profs, as the team took on West Chester University for a playoff game this past Saturday. The Profs took a 9-13 loss, but that wasn’t before the team challenged the Golden Rams to take them seriously.

When the team set out for West Chester, PA, they understood quite well that the season rested in the outcome of this game. The team was revving to go, especially after their game against Villanova was cancelled at the last minute last weekend. So, the week they had left to practice became a vital commodity before they prepared themselves for West Chester. It wasn’t enough that the team was playing with a two-week gap since their last game though. No, they would also be playing against a team who they had lost to in the Beltway Bash, as well as in the semifinals last year.

This game was far from repeating history though. When the Profs marched onto the green and purple field of John A. Farrell Stadium, they weren’t about to let all of the talk get to them. The team still suited up nonetheless. When the game kicked off and West Chester scored a goal on Brian Mahoney within the first few minutes, the Profs needed to start playing a little faster. This motivation increased as Chester scored another two goals within the first 10 minutes of the game. Luckily, a sniped shot by Chris Deck in the first quarter helped keep the team’s head on straight. A little while after that, Pat Hall also whipped up the team’s second goal of the game.

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“I just saw a chance to take a shot, no one slid to me, so I just went for it,” Hall said.

Unlike previous games against West Chester, this one wasn’t completely one-sided in terms of defense and offense. While West Chester pushed Rowan’s defense quite a deal, the Prof pushed back with stacked defensive-middies, like Hall. Nick Scardilli also put pressure, as did Steve Cupo, who worked extra shifts at long-stick middie. This is due to the fact that both Ryan Francisco and Mike Conroy were out for the game. Cupo didn’t have to run alone though, as George Sayre got to run a few shifts at LSM. Cupo said that Sayre’s efficiency with groundballs and stopping fast breaks stood out to him.

“Sayre was called upon and stepped up. He made big plays and was a huge asset the game,” Cupo said.

The Profs played smart in this game, using some of their hallmark strengths to not let West Chester get any further than three to four goals the entire game. One of these hallmark strengths, is the durability and quick-decision making skills of players like Billy Van Dyke, who trucked through multiple groundballs in this game. Van Dyke himself scored a decent whip of a goal through an assist from Gorzynski.

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“Their middies and d-middies were always hungry for the ball, no matter what side of the field. I think if we looked at the states we would find ourselves out-groundballed by a significant amount,” Van Dyke said.

The second strength, was utilizing the reliable functionality of Ryan Gallagher’s righty-shot. Gallagher tallied three goals in this game, which would turn out to be the last of his college career. Yet, the Profs made use of Gallagher’s shots. Other attackmen like Gorzynski and Soravilla also made moves as useful feeders at X and top. Other goals came from Alex Chalef, as well as Grozynski, who scored a hooking goal off of an assist from Soravilla.

“On offense, we were able to find the back of the net quickly and efficiently. I think the chemistry of the offense was at the highest level it has been all year, and we were able to find the open guy cutting to space and most importantly, finish,” Van Dyke said.

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The further the game went, the more West Chester felt Rowan quickly catching back up. By halftime, the Profs were down by three. Every time the Rams scored a goal though, the Profs came right back to match them, until the Rams decided it would be ideal to put their starters in during the fourth quarter. This is the third strength that the Profs have been able to build upon, their ability to force teams to stop talking and start playing. Stacking a few goals on West Chester made the game differ in comparison to last year’s semifinal game. Last year, the team suffered an 11-6 loss to West Chester, with many of the goals then being products of rushed gameplay. This year, the offense was much more controlled and much more graceful. The team also had a couple of hiccups with substitutions last year, with many awkward transitions that made the game a hard way to end a season. This year’s game was much more refined. The team was more cohesive as well. 

The 9-11 score was a hard loss, but throughout the game, the team never failed to show its fourth and most crucial hallmark strength. This is the ability to be a functional unit of close-knit players. No matter the score, the Profs entered the field as a team and left it as a team. Just as they entered the spring season as a team, and now leave it as a team.

 

Profs Take on Beltway Bash 2017

This year’s Beltway Bash meant something different to everybody. For seniors like Ryan Francisco, Chris Deck, and of course, Brian Mahoney, it meant one last chance to go down to College Park Maryland for a great tournament. For veteran players from last year’s season, this was a big opportunity to show their improvements.

For freshman and other new players, this tournament was their first ride in a challenging yet enjoyable adventure; potentially foreshadowing those to come. This was a tournament where the value of a big victory would be overshadowed by the character and class that this year’s team played with. It was a matter of sportsmanship, a matter of respecting each other, and a matter of resolve once the dust cleared.

The Profs looked through that dust after their second trip to The Beltway Bash last weekend. What they saw was a meager, unfortunate 1-2 record for the tournament. The results were not what they wanted, but through the course of those two days, the Profs found much more to celebrate than lacrosse games.

The team set out on Friday, April 7 to see The University Maryland once again. The last time they headed down to the Bash, they came home with a chip in their shoulders after losing to West Chester University in the final round. The last time the team had been in Maryland though, they brought home the Fall Brawl Championship trophy to leave at the Rowan Rec Center. That being said, the Profs were pumped to bring that same intensity to the Bash.

The three hour drive was a tiresome journey, but the team knew exactly what needed to get done when they pulled into the Days Inn at College Park. The beds and the rugs of the hotel were aesthetically-pleasing, but for these guys, a turf-field being lit by a few floodlights was the kind of scenery that they wished for. The plan was to travel over to the J. Logan & Louise Schultz Football Practice Complex to start their tournament run with a night-time game against Catholic University of America. The weather was relatively mild, with the worst component being a strong and nippy wind. No matter what the forces of nature had to dish out, the Profs kept in-character by playing through it.

This game was like a force of nature, anyway. Catholic and Rowan gave each other a ton and a half of resistance throughout this game, with Catholic scoring on the Profs early on during the first quarter. Mahoney saw a more-cohesive unit going against Catholic, even as spirits were very tense. Derek Hofmann was out due to injury, but this gave freshman, Dominic Carlucci some time in-goal during the second half. Mahoney and Carlucci both had to stand strong as Catholic scored off of shots such as one from a right-armed jump. Carlucci fared well in his half, owing it to the ability to deflect a couple of 20-yard shots and make good on clears, one of which involved Carlucci charging toward midfield. Carlucci also benefitted from having his brave pool of middies to aid him when shots were in the iffy zones, like those flung in from center. Defensively, wing poles certainly had to show some muscle, but defensive-middies also played a crucial role in making sure shots weren’t up-close-and-personal.

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“I was confident that going into this tournament, I was going to perform at the level of competition. We had tough games and a few hard losses, but it taught not only myself, but the team that we can accomplish more than we thought,” Carlucci said.

While Catholic kept leveling the score and tying with the Profs, it wasn’t as if they were applying the most pressure in this game. The Profs had goals from the hands of Billy Van Dyke and Matt Gorzynski to thank for that. Van Dyke scored off of a quick bounce shot, while Gorzynski golfed a wicked top-left corner goal. Also in the mix was a goal from Mike Soravilla, who shined as he used his speed and intelligence to a few get shots through. Scoring wasn’t big, as the Profs only scored three goals, but beings that Catholic also only scored three goals. So, obviously, the Profs found themselves in a very rare situation, overtime. Although Rowan played notably well in overtime, Catholic finished the game with goal on Carlucci to make the final score 3-4. The Profs knew what this loss would mean for the rest of the tournament, beings that they only had two other games left. If they lost either of those two games, it’d all be over. The Profs left the field with the sting, trying to not let it hold them back before they tried to enjoy the rest of their night. Of course, they knew that it wouldn’t be too long after they wake up that they’d be facing Stevenson University next.

After a night of recuperating, the team woke up to a bright day and new chance to make this tournament work out for them. Stevenson University wasn’t too much of a challenge the last time the team faced them at the Lax for Donnie Tournament last month. Now, two Saturdays later, the Profs got to see where they stand against the Mustangs once again. Last time, Stevenson kept the Profs running throughout the game, with a midfield with healthy stamina. They retained this ability but added a little extra scrappiness to their formula; playing with what seemed to be a sizeable chip on their shoulders. Strong emotions did not deter the Profs’ ability to dump 11 goals on their goalies though.

Overall, the Profs’ success came from outworking the Mustangs. Stevenson appeared sluggish and lethargic for portions of the game, giving Rowan the ability to capitalize on this. Offense had no real trouble getting in shots from 5-10 yards away. Van Dyke used his muscle-power to plow down through midfield, with one assist that resulted in a hammering shot from John Slover. Another spoke in the face-off rotation, Will Spreen also put some goals in, despite receiving a hard whack to his upper-arm from one of Stevenson’s middies. Injuries and Stevenson playing rough couldn’t stop the way Van Dyke, Slover, and Spreen dominated at keeping possession for the Profs.

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Spreen, in particular, gained some valuable experience, working alongside these two powerhouses. Spreen said he’s had quite a few “battles” with Slover during practice.

“I definitely felt that facing off was a big part of the tournament because all teams were really close, skill-wise. So, it came down to whoever had more possession. When I did face-off, everyone was pretty good so it was difficult to get a clean clamp,” Spreen said. “I have full faith in Van Dyke and Slover to take face-offs when I can’t, they’re both very consistent and have very quick hands.”

Spreen calls Van Dyke “one of the best face-off guys I’ve ever played with,” but Van Dyke was grateful to be in a cohesive squad himself.

“I loved having Slover facing off with me, it gives me breaks and many times he heats up and wins a bunch in a row,” Van Dyke said. “Which really gives us all the help we need we need to give us possessions and more chances to score. If we don’t have players like that we don’t perform well as a team.”

Slover could back up the credit he was given, as could Donovan Moyer. Moyer scored once off of an assist from Mike Squiccarini and another time with a close-range shot to bottom-left. Squicciarini showed consistency with ball-movement at midifield. Sophomore Mo Aneizi, had some graceful moments at midfield, working well with Spreen for top-left offense late in the game. Aneizi said that the tournament overall was a “positive experience.”

“I had been hearing a lot about this tournament from some of the guys who have gone before and seeing how excited they were for it for it definitely got me excited too,” Aniezi said.

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Freshman middie Kyle Schwab joined in on the fun as well, scoring off of a speedy groundball to bottom-left. Schwab also enjoyed his time at the tournament, despite saying that he “didn’t know what to expect” going down to Maryland.

“As a freshman, I heard a lot of stories about Beltway Bash,” Schwab said. “We were all pumped up to play and we all really wanted to take home yet another trophy.”

The Profs carried home an 11-0 win over the Mustangs that afternoon. To which celebrations were definitely to be had, but the Profs were looking toward their 6:30 game as well. West Chester was waiting for them, along with their last chance to have a decent shot at the tournament. At the moment though, a small tailgate and a bunch of happy parents were waiting for them too. Some of the team even got to make a trip over to Maryland Stadium for the DI Maryland vs. Penn State game, where Maryland defeated Penn State 15-11. Others got to try the some of the many restaurants in the area or simply stroll around the massive campus. Some got to peek inside the Xfinity Center to see Maryland’s Hack-a-thon taking place in the center’s basketball court.

Getting to enjoy the location was great for those wee hours before West Chester. When it was time to put themselves together, the Profs experienced some difficulties getting themselves fired up and motivated. Warm-ups were eerily quiet, as if the team was playing under water. Even Francisco seemed frustrated at the lack of energy. The Profs came into this game with a bit of a handicap, with middie Alex Chalef out of the game with an injured knee, and long-stick Steve Cupo out due to food poisoning. This would leave players like Chris Deck and Mike Conroy to carry some weight.

That fog wouldn’t stay around too long. One should never expect this team to feel sorry for itself. Despite a rather rocky start, the Profs slowly brought back the intensity to match West Chester at every point of the field. Players like Mahoney knew how West Chester plays, beings that the loss from last year’s tournament was still burning in their minds. This as well as last year’s loss to the Rams in the semifinals. These guys knew they weren’t going up against a rookie team. This didn’t mean the Profs wouldn’t be able to hold a candle to them this year though. No. Quite the opposite.

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The Profs applied pressure to their wounds in this game. Although defense still had to maintain stamina just to keep up with the demands of West Chester’s offense, Rowan’s offense pushed back. Thanks to goals from the likes of Van Dyke and Ryan Gallagher, it wasn’t as difficult as last year to catch up when West Chester came into the lead. The Profs were certainly hungry, and were certainly not afraid to shoot in this game. Middies like Slover and Deck may have made some in, but West Chester’s defense got in the way. Van Dyke scored his goal after an assist from Mike Soravilla, who himself continued to use his tip-toeing speed around X and subsequently showed confidence in this game. Of course this, was a game where Rowan’s defense was heavily worked. Ian Rattigan and Bruce Barrett were both under pressure for much of the game, but maintained their ability to clear out simply and easily. Eric Johnson also kept busy, fighting for groundballs. At the D-middie line, Nick Scardilli was an asset for clears and loose balls, while Francisco stood tough when West Chester tried shooting from the 20. Francisco retained his composure and did not let taunts bother him.

Deck felt his own handicap hinder him more as the game progressed. The senior had been dealing with a pain in his leg for the duration of the tournament.

“My leg really wasn’t holding up, and was giving me a lot of problems and pain and I needed the younger guys to take more playing time, which they took and made the most of it,” Deck said.

This was a game where a few of the older guys on the team took a backseat and watched the new faces play. Even in the last moments of the game, when Dom Carlucci stood in goal, the freshman kept it so that the Rams wouldn’t be anywhere further than two goals ahead. At midfield, Squicciarini and Spreen made certain to put their best feet forward, as assists in this kind of a game were crucial. Sorovilla took on a brave level of command at attack, with moves that resulted in a few goals, which ultimately ended in West Chester having to take the Profs seriously.

The Profs lost this game, a respectable 5-7 loss and thus, were out of the tournament. The team knew very well what this loss meant.

This loss meant that this year’s team can compete. This meant that this year’s team had character. This meant that this year’s team had become more cohesive than before. This was a loss in this tournament that showed just how much ability the freshman and newcomers could really offer for the coming years.

Yes, the Profs lost the tournament, but in retrospect, what they gained may prove to be much more valuable.

 

True Victors: Profs Win 3rd Annual Lax for Donnie Tournament

You could have called it divine-intervention, home-field advantage, or you could have even called luck. No matter what you call it, the Profs had something on their side when they became champions of the 3rd Annual Lax for Donnie Tournament on Sunday, March 26.

Ask any of them, though. They’ll tell you exactly what this was all about. This wasn’t the normal season tournament where every goal carried the weight of a successful record. No. This tournament carried a different kind of weight. This tournament in its entirety wasn’t about anything except for Donnie Farrell. The fallen co-founder of the team, who was murdered at Rowan in 2007, is the soul of this tournament and on Sunday, he was the motivation for the Profs to burn through three games and clinch a 9-2-championship victory over TCNJ.

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This was the Profs’ day to play for something bigger than themselves. They were playing for a fellow Rowan student, and somebody who they felt needed more recognition. Somebody who that even though they never physically met, they felt connected to. Brian Mahoney and last year’s president, Rob Zybrick, really believed in the seeds they were planting when they lead the creation of the first Lax for Donnie Tournament, three years ago.

Maybe it was a matter of patience, and it was a miracle in the making, but the team hadn’t had the best luck the past two years of the tournament’s existence. For the first and second tournaments, the Profs fell to Dickinson College in the finals. It came to the team’s attention that Dickinson wouldn’t be showing up this year, for the Red Devils decided last minute to drop themselves out of the tournament.

“I didn’t plan on playing in the first game because I was focused on making sure all the teams arrived on time. I’m glad I made that decision, because as I was on the sideline, I got a text from Dickinson’s president saying that they weren’t going to make it due to “unforeseen circumstances,”” Mahoney said. “I was pretty annoyed at the time, but I understood. I had to scramble to adjust the schedule, but I was able to make it work.”

This news came in just as the Profs’ took their first win of the tournament against Drexel. This year’s tournament would boast a better location for the Profs’, as the team got to utilize Rowan’s newly-renovated, intramural fields, as opposed to the Sicklerville park used last year.

“Having it at Rowan is awesome because we have two fields available to us and it encourages students, alumni, family, & friends to come,” Mahoney said. “It also brings the story of Donnie to life. Donnie was killed on campus, and we play on our campus. I would say hosting the event on campus also affects the other teams. These players from all over the northeast understand what the tournament is truly for.”

The Profs carried away a 5-1 victory over the Dragons to begin the tournament on a high-note. The tournament schedule had received some last-minute tweaks, but thanks to Dickinson drawing out, the team got a two-hour break before their next game against Atlantic Cape Community College. This would ultimately turn into a two-hour wait in the 44-degree weather that morning.

At least there was free food. A number of the team’s parents kept plenty of bagels, coffee, and eventually hot dogs and hamburgers on tap. The break dragged on but after the team fueled back up, and the football team was finished using Richard Wacker Stadium to practice, ACCC rolled around and it was time to suit up.

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ACCC had a relatively small team, but that small team gave the Profs a good run for the length of the game. For what ACCC lacked in scoring, they made up for in stick skills and working clears. The Buccaneers failed to land a goal on Mahoney or Hofmann, but the Profs got to business quick with a goal from Alex Chalef. Attackmen, Ryan Gallagher, and Matt Gorzynski, had a field day, scoring back-to-back. Gorzynski came in not too long after Chalef, scoring off of an assist from Chris Deck and Gallagher off of an assist from Gorynski. Donovan Moyer spun his stick around a bit, scoring off of a classy assist from Mike Squicciarini. Will Spreen scored from the 20-mark off of an assist from Squicciarini.. Derek Hofmann even joined in at midfield, and surprised quite a few people when he, coming off of an assist from Pat Hall, ripped an underhand goal to the top-left corner. The Profs let up no goals this entire game, and came out with a 16-0 final score.

While other teams had roughly 10 minutes to transition between the two fields for their games, the Profs found another break for about an hour before their next game against Stevenson University.

During their game against Stevenson, the Profs’ spent a little bit more time on defense than against ACCC. It wasn’t crippling though. Stevenson’s midfield was especially functional, with quick legs that gave long-stick-mids like Steve Cupo and Mike Conroy some running time. Offensively, there was fun to be had, as shown by a quick game of hot-potato that ended in a goal by Gallagher. While the Profs ripped many shots, Gorzynski came in and snuck a nice goal from X. About this time was when the Profs began finding an increase in fans on the bleachers. The team received an unexpected cheering section in the form of ACCC’s players. Also, in the stands, was a small pack of lacrosse alumni from the day before, who seemed to just want to get sophomore, Ariel Zelaya pumped up, by bringing a home-made, cardboard poster reading “D-Mids are People Too.” This gaggle of alumni included Rob Zybrick, who watched on at the tournament that he helped create; this time as a college-graduate.

The Profs carried away a 9-1 win over the Mustangs, but it wasn’t long before zero-hour was upon the team. It was one thing getting there, but now, TCNJ was on the teams’ mind, and so was the possibility of the team’s first Lax for Donnie Tournament win.

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Photo/Partheymullerpossibility of the team’s first Lax for Donnie Tournament win.

This wasn’t just a championship game where the victor just walks away with a win. More than anything else, the Profs’ wanted this for everything the Lax for Donnie Tournament stands for. They wanted it for him, they wanted it for his parents in the stands, they wanted it for the message that Donnie should be remembered. That’s what they wanted to play for and that’s what they kept in their minds throughout the tournament getting to this championship. The Profs had the people in the stands who were in their corner.

Now, it was just time to leave it on the field.

This game against TCNJ wouldn’t have the quickest start, but the entertainment value was certainly present. For a good portion of the first half, the Profs and the Lions seemed to be in a back-and-forth between tying the score up. Nerves were tense as the Profs put in goals from the likes of Gorzynski and Gallagher, only to be matched by TCNJ. Yet, the momentum built up until one-by-one, the Profs sequentially got more goals in, effectively putting the Profs into a good place. This is where the fire burned a little bit brighter on the sidelines. Ryan Francisco and Zelaya kept in-character as they turned up the volume of the team and the fans watching. Mahoney wasn’t worried though, and watched on as the team placed another seven goals onto TCNJ.

“We went into the second half of the championship with a score of 2-2. But I knew we would adjust and put some goals up on TCNJ,” Mahoney said.

The clock ticked away the last two minutes of the game, and like an hourglass, the last second passed.

The final score: 9-2.

The Profs won their championship.

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Photo/Partheymuller

The team knew exactly how to react, and charged straight for Hofmann with all that fire they conjured throughout the game.

This was a win in the books, but everybody knew that this wasn’t just their championship victory. This was Donnie’s.

“We have created a tradition here at Rowan. People will know Donnie’s story, which was our main goal. Donnie’s parents are so proud and happy that their son’s legacy will live on forever at Rowan University,” Mahoney said.

This truly shined when Donnie’s parents joined the team for a team photo.

“Each year, they pull us to the side and say, “Listen, you guys are complete strangers. You never personally knew Donnie, but you went out of your way to make sure our son’s legacy lives on. You will have no idea what that means to us until you have children of your own.” Mrs. Farrell also said, “It won’t bring Donnie back but I’m proud that people remember him and that his story inspired two young men who never knew him to do this. Thanks to them and what they’ve done, Donnie will be remembered.”” Mahoney said.

As it goes, 32 happy lacrosse players left the field that night, closing the books on another Lax for Donnie Tournament.

For more information on Donnie Farrell, check out the Donnie Farrell Project.

The 1st Annual Alumni Game: A Rowan Men’s Lacrosse Family Reunion

Brian Mahoney must have felt nostalgic, sharing the field with 20 Rowan Men’s Lacrosse alumni for the team’s Inaugural Alumni Game on Saturday, March 25.

Included in those 20, were Rowan’s past three presidents, Rob Zybrick, Alex Mulholland, and John Hyde. 

The day wasn’t meant to be completely serious. It was meant simply as a way to bring  together alumni of past seasons and players of the current team for a celebration.

That doesn’t mean things didn’t get tense and competitive though. Bragging rights were up for grabs and this became hilariously apparent when the game began and the current guys belted “rah rah washed-up!” The alumni weren’t salty though, and reciprocated  with “rah rah old guys!”

This was the simple pace of the whole entire game; serious as it seemed when freshman, John Slover, found himself stacked-up against Mulholland for the first face-off. Mulholland, wearing a helmet visor, seemed to retain the same intelligence and physical power that won the Profs many face-offs in years past. Mulholland benefitted from the presence of old teammates, such as former attackman, Christian Gretz, who utilized his brash playing style to snag a smooth goal on the current team. Alumni, Dan Berger, a former-defensive middie, powered through midfield off of a clear to score a goal of his own.

This relatively-slow yet entertaining game also saw a quite a few looks from Rowan’s offense. Freshman Mike Soravilla snuck a behind-the-back shot off of an assist from Alex Chalef. Other goals for the current guys came from Ryan Gallagher, Matt Gorzynski, Chalef, and Will Spreen. For the sake of the occasion, Derek Hofmann traded his goalie stick for a short-stick and hopped in at middie. This change-up worked well when Hofmann utilized freshman, Mike Murray to run the ball up to freshman, Connor Burroughs on offense. Soravilla also jumped in with the role-playing fun, picking up a pole to go LSM.

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As with offense, defense wasn’t lacking on either side. The alumni’s defense stood strong with the likes of seasoned-defenseman such as Zybrick, who butt-heads (literally) a number of times with the current players. Also in the alumni ranks were tanks, Matt Liss and Colin McIntire, and the speedy legs of Dwight Tucci. This was matched on the current team with players such as junior, Eric Johnson, Murray, and sophomores, Ian Rattigan and Bruce Barrett. On the wings, Ryan Fisher and Tom Case also made their appearances, contrasting senior, Mike Conroy and junior, Steven Cupo.

Those matches were the beauty of the game. This is shown in how the alumni won in overtime, where Mulholland bested Slover in a Braveheart challenge to snipe the alumni team into a 9-8 victory.

In a fun-filled game with plenty of laughs, both teams really just enjoyed the fun of a non-season game. This game was not just a celebration of old friends and torches changing hands. This was a celebration of how far Rowan Men’s Club Lacrosse has come. Players such as Mulholland can attest to this, beings that he and his team of alumni have watched the program grow before their very eyes.

“It was just awesome getting to see the guys again, it was something we all worked together to build one way or another,” Mulholland said.

 

 

 

 

Playing (and Computing) with a Full Deck

Chris Deck has seen a lot of changes throughout his four year tenure with the team. From the team’s slow beginnings to the eventual shift in focus, the senior computer science major from Robbinsville, New Jersey, has watched his team transform into the formidable force it has become. Deck has in-turn, watched himself growing alongside it. Whether it was on the field or in the classroom, Deck developed over those four years and has matured into a young-man with a little over a month left until graduation. Deck sat down to chat about his experiences as a computer science major, his plans for the future, and of course, his journey with the team.

How do you like the weather lately?

CD: “It’s been pretty crazy. Mother Nature wants to fit all four seasons into one month.”

RP: “Yeah, we’re going from, I think, 63 degrees to 43 degrees.”

CD: “It’s going to be snowing tomorrow.”

RP: “Yeah? How do you feel about that? Is that kind of crazy for you?”

CD: “Yeah, I mean, you know a lot of people get sick from this kind of weather. I know I got sick for a couple of days. I had to miss practice because the changing of the weather always gets me messed up. From 70 degrees to 20 degrees.”

What sports team are you typically rooting for around this time of year?

CD: “So, football season’s done. So, I’m a New York sports fan, so right now I’m with the Rangers. I really don’t follow basketball as much. The Knicks kind of….they’re not the team I want to root for but they’re a New York guy, so that’s who I have to, and then, spring training for baseball’s coming up. I’m actually going to try to go see a spring training Yankees game in Florida when I go away for a couple of days.”

How is the second semester of your last year of college treating you?

CD: “It’s going pretty well. It’s bittersweet. It’s almost done so I can be out in the real world and making some real money and work at the job I’ve been dreaming of, but, at the same time, college is good. People are always around. You have some more flexibility and free time. There’s all the clubs and intramurals going on and it’s going to be tough to leave but it’s time.”

RP: “Well, I’m not sure if you know this yet, but we have I think, two months and two days of this semester.”

CD: “Yeah, you’re right.”

RP: “So, how do you feel when people count down the days for you like that?”

CD: “I don’t like the countdown. It’ll just sneak up on me and then the last week I’ll go “wow, it’s over.” I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not but it usually hits you by surprise at the end.

RP: It usually does, right? It’s like wow, I feel like I just came into college.”

Are you happy with where you are with your life is right now?

CD: “Yeah, I’m pretty happy, I’ve got a job lined up for me when I get out of school. I played lacrosse all four years here at Rowan. I studied, and got a good GPA and made some friends and memories that I won’t forget.”

RP: “What do you have lined up for after school?”

CD: “I’m going to be a….technically it’s called a “business systems analyst three” at TD Bank. I’m going to be doing like cyber-security work.”

RP: “That’s going to be some pretty intense stuff then, huh?”

CD: “Yeah.”

RP: “So, how did you get into that?”

CD: “So, obviously, I’m a computer science major and I took a specialization in cyber-security. Took about three classes, Data Communications Networking, Ethical Hacking and Pen Testing, and now I’m taking Security Applications and those three classes helped me with my internship at TD Bank last year to land that job. I got the internship actually at the job fair here last year.”

RP: “That’s good. Yeah, a lot of people some good links from the career fair here.”

CD: “I didn’t go for TD Bank. I had a list of companies that I wanted to talk to and they just happened to be there and so, I didn’t know that that could be an option and then I went down there and that’s where I ended up and that’s why I love it.”

How has your identity as a computer science major been developing for the past four years?

CD: “So, I’m not the typical computer science major one might think of. They think drinks energy drinks, always up late on Reddit, and maybe socially awkward but I know what I’m doing and I love it and I never thought twice about my path as a computer science major. It’s why I came into college knowing I wanted to do something with computers and that’s why I made it happen.”

What excites you about computer science?

CD: “The fact that you can literally make anything. That the possibilities are endless right now. I’m working on an app that I’m going to release and my friends are going to be able to use it. That’s really cool, like the ability to make something that other people around you can actually use and for their benefit and not just to make you happy, and then cyber-security really it’s interesting because of all of the exploits and hacks that you don’t think that should be possible but you find out every day that there’s a new thing that people can do and it’s really cool to see how people can get into your network and then obviously, I’ll be working to make them not. It’s the competitive edge in me. I want to be the better person.”

What was it like growing up? What kind of kid were you?

CD: “I was sporty and straight-edge. Most kids in high school, you know, they probably drank alcohol underage and high school partied. What I was doing was I would go to school, I’d come home and I’d do my homework then I’d go to hockey or lacrosse practice and when I came home I would watch my favorite show on T.V., grab a snack, go to sleep, and then hang out with my friends on the weekends or if I had time after all my stuff was done during the week I’d hang out with them. Didn’t party much, didn’t drink at all. Nothing like that until I got into college. So, I liked my childhood, it was good.”

What excites you about lacrosse?

CD: “I never knew about lacrosse until 5th grade. My next-door neighbor got me into it. He was playing since he was in like 2nd grade and they originally stuck me on defense. I had a 5ft pole because I wasn’t tall enough to handle a real pole and I don’t know, I just fell in love it with it. It was just really fun and adrenaline always pumping and I liked it. I ended up being good enough to play in college club here at Rowan. I don’t know, it’s just unlike any other sport to me.

RP: So, what excites you about the team here?”

CD: “Well, we have a great group of guys here. They’re all motivated, they all want to be here. No one’s just thinking of the party afterward or no one’s thinking “oh, I’m just here to get girls” or anything like that. We’re here to play lacrosse and that’s first and we all become kind of brothers and it’s a good family we got here.”

RP: “Oh, absolutely.”

What kind of role do you feel you play on the team?

CD: “See, in the beginning, we didn’t have a lot of people, so my role was kind of elevated. I think we had like two subs so everyone had to do everything. Now, I’m more of a role-player, trying to facilitate the offense, you know, maybe take a dodge, pass the ball to the open guy, and hustle because I’m a middie, so I have to go back-and-forth to be able to play defense and offense. So, I’m not the super-star on the team. I’m just here to do my job and help us win.”

Do you have any funny memories from being on the team?

CD: “Funny memories…You know a lot of crazy stuff happens, like Gorzynski brought a flag that said “Saturday Are For the Boys.” Didn’t know that was going to happen.”

RP: “That was awesome.”

CD: “I’d say, if I could, could I change the question to “best memory?””

RP: “Sure.”

CD: “When we beat West Chester for the first time in a double-header against West Chester and Cabrini, I think it was two years ago, my sophomore year. We played Cabrini and West Chester, beat West Chester four to two, for the first time in our school history, and everyone got together and we all just celebrated afterwards and it was the first best day of Rowan lacrosse when we made history and beat them. That was really good for us, because last time I think, we played them before that, we lost 17 to 1.”

RP: “Wow.”

CD: “So, it was really good to come back and actually win.”

What was the toughest game for you to play so far?

CD: “Toughest game I’ve played so far was when we played West Chester in the playoffs last year. So, they were a really good team. I was dealing with injuries, trying to power through them, not doing so well. I think we were only down one at halftime but it kind of fell apart after that and that was a big and game and I want to be able to go back to playoffs and be able to rewrite history and get through it and go to the national championship this year.”

RP: “That’d be really great.”

How do you think the team has changed since you first got onto it?

CD: “So, when I first got onto it, it was more of a beer-team. Everyone was just wanting to party, everyone was just there to goof around, no one was really serious. I think my freshman year we had three games. Granted we had seven scheduled maybe and a lot of it got rained out but we only played like three games and when Rob Zybrick took over, he really made the team something else. He got the games scheduled, the refs were always there, he got the team motivated and actually ready to play, and it was really crazy to see the turnaround from my freshman year until now when we went from kind of a joke to we’re on the map, our school respects us, and we’re doing well.”

RP: “You really are.”

How would you describe your playing style?

CD: “My playing style is odd. So, I am not fundamentally-sound in any sense of the word. My friends in high school always told me that what I did never seemed right but it usually works. So, I always kind of seem like my dodges, the way I see things, they always seemed odd and not fundamental. So, that’s how I’d describe that.”

Do you think other teams are surprised by your size as a middie?

CD: “I think so. Most middies aren’t pretty big. I mean, I wasn’t always this big. I gained a lot of weight in college from weightlifting and eating and drinking but I never was always this big and I imagine that teams are surprised when they see a middie like that.”

RP: “I’m sure they were surprised when they saw Alex Muholland for the first time.”

CD: “Muholland was a tank. He’s a tank.”

 If you could, what professional lacrosse player would you want to meet?

CD: “That’s a tough question, I never really thought about that. I would want to meet Gary Gait because I just want to know how he even thought to pull that move off. How he even did it because it’s just a miraculous set of athleticism and skill. To be able to do that takes the balls and confidence to know you can do that.”

 

 How do you hope to look back at Rowan when you’re all done?

CD: “I hope to look back at it as a great four-year experience to set me up for success for the rest of my life. Cherish cool memories with lacrosse and education and ultimately a good decision and not something I regret.”

Profs Take Loss to UDel at Home

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The Profs kicked off their opening weekend with two days straight with games against high-profile teams. The Profs left Princeton with their first two victories over Princeton and TCNJ on Saturday, but on Sunday afternoon, the Profs ran into a 2-7 loss at home against the University of Delaware.

This hard loss seemed to be a slow smothering of the tired flames left over from the night before. Obviously, the weather in Princeton and the two games back-to-back gave a ingredients for a hard game. The Profs remained strong as they got through the stalemate that was the first quarter. Neither side scored until about 15 minutes into the game, when a goal was placed by UDel.

Although the Profs exerted the energy necessary to compete with the Blue Hens, the game was unusually low-energy on the sidelines. Team morale was notably conservative. Brian Mahoney touts that morale as a key part of the team’s success.

“Hype is what drives us. I know when I make a save, and I hear the sideline go nuts, it gives me a huge boost. I play much better when we’re all fired up. When we score, we get hype. When we get hype, we score more. A problem our team has had is not keeping our heads up when we are losing. Some players check out before the game is over. This can’t happen. We are guaranteed to lose if players check out,” Mahoney said.

During the second half, junior, Ryan Gallagher raised spirits when he scored a nice goal. Another goal would later come from junior, Matt Gorzynski. By this time, UDel was already up to a 2-5 lead over the Profs. The Blue Hen’s offense continually wore down Rowan’s defense after multiple mistakes on offense lead to multiple fast breaks that UDel capitalized off of.

“Our offense had a few blown opportunities. Missing point-blank shots hurt a lot. I believe if those shots were made, it could’ve boosted the morale and therefore could have turned the game around and won it,” Mahoney said.

During the course of the game, the Profs ran up a total of eight penalties. Mahoney blames this on “laziness, lack of discipline, and frustration.”

“UDel had a couple of scrappy players with loud mouths. This got under the skin of some of our players and they were swinging axes out there. Simply not acceptable,” Mahoney said.

The game had plenty of action despite the low-energy motif. Junior, Billy Van Dyke was a soldier at midfield, with many situations that showed Van Dyke’s resourcefulness. These include a scuffle in which Van Dyke had to maintain hold on the ball while on the ground. Van Dyke swiftly tossed the ball over his shoulder in a last-ditch effort for possession. Keep Derek Hofmann decided to get spunky, as he ventured out of the goal and used his quick feet to dance around a couple of UDel offensive-players.

Alumni showed up for the game as well. Former-president, Rob Zybrick, and former-attack-men, Christian Gretz stopped by to see the unfortunate course of the game. Zybrick switched into coaching-mode and gave whatever he could while back with his former team. Even with that behind them, Rowan couldn’t help but cringe at a 2-7 final score. The last whistle blew and Mahoney knew exactly what to say.

“Alumni came out, and they didn’t get to see lacrosse,” Mahoney said to his team.

For Mahoney, the key concerns to address in upcoming practices will be particularly mental.

“Staying positive, not stooping down to the level of our opponents, defending against fast breaks, player conduct, man-down defense, moving off-ball on offense, and how to play against a defense that pressures out,” Mahoney said.

 

 

 

Profs Charge In with Victories Over Princeton and TCNJ

The Prof’s got right to business on March 4, when a long trip to Princeton University meant a trip to frigid, 31 degree temperatures and the team’s first two games of the season. Even with their bodies shivering, the boys came out with a 5-4 victory over Princeton and a whopping 7-1 win over TCNJ.

The sun was shining at the Class of 1952 Stadium, where the university’s D1 team also plays, but it just couldn’t seem to beat the below-freezing temperatures. Luckily, the team got a boost when Matt Gorzynski walked into the stadium with a flag reading “SATURDAYS ARE FOR THE BOYS.” This gave the team the pump it needed to get started with a slow game that gave everybody on the team a glimpse of what to expect this season.

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The game began with a face-off with Billy Van Dyke, taking the helm. From here, the game would bounce between Van Dyke and freshman, John Stover. This game immediately showed the improvements that the team has made, as well as the improvements of Princeton since the team faced them last year at the Beltway Bash in Maryland. Back then, the team won 9-3 over the Tigers in the game which also put midfielder, T.J. Murdering, out with an ACL injury. The Prof’s still managed to break through, even when the first five minutes of the first half only carried one goal against the Prof’s. Spirits were unbalanced until junior, Alex Chalef scored the first goal of the game. This is a poignant game considering that Chalet was out for the end-half of the fall season due to an elbow injury. Billy Van Dyke scored within the first half and caused a few faces to light up on the sideline.

Princeton would continue to tie up with the Profs. Brian Mahoney felt the team’s attitude changing with the thermometer.

“I think the temperature was a huge factor on Saturday. In the future, we need to come out hot despite the temperature or weather. This was our first game since the fall, and despite practicing the past month, there was bound to be a few rusty passes and shots,” Mahoney said.”The mentality going in was good, but when we realized it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, our attitude shifted a bit. I thought we came out of the game with a sense of relief and a great feeling of winning the first game of the season.”

Defensively, the team saw strong work from sophomores, Ian Rattigan, George Sayre, and freshman, Corey Spatz, well as constant energy from senior, Ryan Francisco. Offensively, the team saw what it would expect from juniors Ryan Gallagher, and Matt Gorzynski at attack along with freshman, Mike Soravilla. The Profs eventually carried away a close 5-4 victory over the Tigers.

TCNJ was found to be a relief of a gam for the Profs after getting hot-blooded against Princeton. Some of that hype stayed tuned and turned into pure sideline energy. It wouldn’t be have been the style of the team, especially Ryan Francisco, to watch another team like TCNJ get fired up before a game. It didn’t take long before it took affect.

The fire stirring from Francisco worked its way around, helping the team to put up goals thanks to Gorzynski, Van Dyke, Gallagher, and junior, Donovan Moyer. Van Dyke, Spreen, and John Slover took helm for face-offs. For both games, keeps Mahoney and Derek Hofmann took turns in the first and second halves respectively. Freshman, Dom Carlucci saw time in-goal during the last minutes of the game. Middle freshman, Pat Hall, lent his speed to the midfield, as did senior long-stick middie, Mike Conroy.

“Offense moved their feet off-ball which moved TCNJ’s defense out of position. Our offense also passed the ball with confidence and authority. Our dodges were better and our plays worked nicely,” Mahoney said.

The team carried away an impressive 7-1 win over TCNJ that night and happily sprinted straight for the safety of their warm cars. It was already about 7pm and the boys just wanted to get back home.

Get back home with a flag in one car and a sigh of relief in all of them.

 

 

 

Straight-Shooter: The Story of Pat Hall’s Life as a Marine

“I, *insert name,* do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

Pat Hall had a good idea of what he was getting himself into when in April of 2015, he took this oath for the United States Marines.

A mechanical engineering major, Hall knew that he wanted to serve in some way, shape, or form. The 20-year old freshman from Mullica Hill, NJ, now runs shifts as a defensive-middie with the team, but two years ago, Hall looked to the Marines as just the challenge that he needed.

“I knew that they were the toughest. I knew that they were more select. I guess, growing up, always being an athlete, you know, I was always trying to be the best at whatever I do. I saw that as a good opportunity to really push me and give me opportunities to set myself up for the rest of my life,” Hall said.

Hall said he’s always wanted to serve. He certainly had the right environment for it, beings that Hall’s family has a rich history of serving with the Armed Forces. This lineage traces as far back as a distant ancestor who served with President Teddy Roosevelt as a Rough Rider during the Spanish-American War. Hall’s grandfather on his father’s side served with the Navy, while his grandfather on his mother’s side served with the Army. Hall’s father himself served with the Navy. So, it may be safe to guess where the influence for Hall’s decision came from. After all, it was his father’s advice that influenced his decision to take the oath with the Marines.

“My dad kind of guided me and said, “Do you want just something that you can do with the Marine Corps, or do you want to think about today, tomorrow and the future,” and do a job that would really help me out, outside of the Marine Corps regardless of how long you’re in for, and really just growing up with that kind of lifestyle really helped me get into it,” Hall said.

Hall said he was a “straight-shooter” during his four years at Clearview Regional High School in Mullica Hill. He said he was the captain of his lacrosse team during his senior year and had a “pretty good reputation.” Hall was still a high school senior when he took the oath with the Marines, he missed practice in order to go. From there on, Hall knew about the demands that the Marines would require.

“Unlike a lot of people, I knew what I was getting into. I was very fortunate where I got to talk to a lot of Marines who had already gone through, that were either friends with my dad or that I knew.  I think the biggest thing that really helped me was just going in with the right mindset because I knew that it was just going to suck.  So, you just had to embrace this up pretty much. You just kind of keep your head down and you just got to get through it. So, it wasn’t awful for me, but that’s because I guess I went in knowing what to expect,” Hall said.

That’s when Hall took off to Parris Island, SC, for boot-camp. From October 13 of that year to January 8, 2016, the day he graduated, Hall would come to realize a couple of things. One, that he hates sand fleas (nearly-invisible gnats with a nasty bite), and two, that training is more mental than physical.

“Everything there really had a purpose and they tell you that early on, everybody tells you before you go in and everything. Everything really does have a purpose. I guess the hardest part is trying to understand that purpose right away. Toward the end of that three-month training cycle, it really starts to make sense,” Hall said.

Hall said that he had fun when he got into shooting targets. Here, Hall got to learn the tricks to aiming a gun just right to hit a target from 200yds, 300yds, and 500yds away.

“I really liked the MCT (Marine Combat Training), which is like the step after boot-camp, that’s like a lot more combat training that you get to go to. It was a just a blast all the way through,” Hall said. “MC2 was probably the most fun because you got to do basic first-aid, taking care of wounded people on the field, fire different types of weapon systems, experiencing digging your own fox-hole for the battle-buggy, hikes, they weren’t too hard, but staying awake was probably the hardest part, probably.”

Hall said his relationship with his comrades, though there was head-butting here and there, was a family-style, close-knit group.

Hall came to Rowan just this past fall semester, and since then, he has got into some different ranks: the ranks within the team. Hall said he’s having fun with it so far. Compared to his time playing in high school, Hall said his new team is “more stress-free.”

“I remember there was a lot of responsibility on me to perform every single game. Like, yes, there is still is that responsibility and everything for playing at Rowan here, but I feel more able to just play and have fun and I always feel like I’m going to do better here because I’m going to be able to have fun with it and not worry so much,” Hall said.

Hall said that work ethic along with the attitude, and the lesson of “going until the job gets done” are all components to the mentality that carries over to lacrosse at Rowan.

Even with lacrosse on his mind, Hall said his long-term goal is to receive his degree and ultimately receive his commission as an officer in the Marines. He doesn’t put an everyday job on a shelf, but the Marines play a huge role in deciding where he’ll be spending time after college.

“My end goal at this point is just to get that commission and then from there, I pretty much open up doors and avenues to whatever I choose to do at that point,” Hall said.

For Hall, the Marines are both in his past and future.

Which is understandable. As it’s been said, the oath doesn’t have an expiration date.

 

 

*Armed Forces oath retrieved from military.com