With the start of the lacrosse season just around the corner, head coach Mark Morrell is prepared for the challenges of building a program from the ground up. As the 19th varsity sport at Elmhurst College, the Bluejays’ lacrosse team will debut at Langhorst Field on Wednesday, March 13, at 4:00 p.m.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to build a new tradition in lacrosse at Elmhurst College,” said first-year head coach Mark Morrell. “Building a program from the ground up is not easy, but we’re starting on a foundation of great players, with great work ethic—both on and off the field. I believe the team’s focus on detail and approach on the field will have a greater impact in building a foundation for our program than the total number of wins and losses this year. That said, we still expect to go out and notch some wins this season.”
Morrell will guide the Bluejays onto the field with 14 players on the roster and knows that the small squad size may create a few obstacles right out of the gate.
“From a numbers standpoint, having only 14 players may be a bit of a challenge, especially from an injury standpoint,” he said. “The nice thing about having a squad of 14 players is that everyone is aware of what role they’re going to fill. The challenge we face is keeping everyone fresh and healthy over the course of the season.”
Two of Morrell’s 14 players will vie for the starting goalie position—freshmen Tyler York and Jake Acevedo are expected to battle for playing time in the net.
“Tyler [York] and Jake [Acevedo] are definitely in the midst of a goalie competition,” said Morrell. “We’ll see how each of them respond once the season starts, but ultimately we’ll have a goalie that the team is comfortable with.”
Morrell will look to four players to lead the Bluejays on defense. Freshmen Jack Albertini, Mike Colaianne, Max Hernandez and A.J. Weiger will all play an immediate role in front of the net.
“Jack [Albertini] battled with illness in the fall, but he was an all-state player in high school and has the potential to be a great leader with our defense,” said Morrell. “Mike [Colaianne] is a very physical player who has a great mental approach to the game. Max [Hernandez] and A.J. [Weiger] are both newer players to the game, but they have made great strides since beginning practicing in the fall.”
Rather than having players focus on midfield or attack positions, Morrell is putting his squad into two groups—offense and defense. Ben Porter, Alex Opyd, Tyler Dailey, Tyler Zaremski, Nick Klenck, John Fielder, Jon Kefaloukos and Mal Euson compose the group of eight players that Morrell will turn to lead Elmhurst’s offensive attack.
“Ben [Porter] is our jack-of-all-trades,” said Morrell. “He motivates his teammates, leads by example and is solid on both offense and defense. He’s also very good at winning face-offs. Alex [Opyd] is a smooth, fluid player who creates his own shots. Tyler Dailey is just an explosive athlete. He’s probably our strongest player on the field and has great stick skills. Tyler Zaremski is a very tough player with a great mind for the game. Jon [Kefaloukos], Mal [Euson] , John [Fielder] and Nick [Kleenck] are all solid players who bring their own unique skill sets to the team.”
Morrell feels that the youth and lack of collegiate experience will be hurdles the Bluejays will have to overcome in their debut season. “It’s always challenging for first-year players to adapt to the ebb and flow of the collegiate game,” he said. “There are going to be times when we may be up four goals or down four goals, but we’ll need to play at a consistent level throughout the entire game.”
Morrell believes the Bluejays have made a lot of progress from the fall practice sessions and that the team will be ready for the start of the season.
“I’ve seen a tremendous amount of improvement from where we were in the fall,” he said. “It’s great to see the progress that they have made and I expect to continue to improve as each day goes by. I think the true measuring stick, at the end of the season, will be to see if we maximized our potential.”
Elmhurst will play its first-ever home contest on Wednesday, March 13, at 4:00 p.m. when the Bluejays host Concordia University at Langhorst Field.