Miami (FL) Season Outlook for 2012

By Daniel Pyser

Coming off its best season in team history, the University of Miami Men's Club Lacrosse team looks to improve on its 8-5 record in 2012 with a fresh set of freshmen and transfers.

Last season, the team was able to withstand the loss of a number of key senior contributors en route to a very successful season. Starting six freshmen most games, including all three defensemen and a goalie, Miami became one of the surprises of the conference as the team was able to stay competitive with some of the regional powers.

"You know I think it was very successful, given our youth," said Alex Schultes, head coach of the men's lacrosse team.

The team competes in the Southeastern Lacrosse Conference, which is part of the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association. Within the SELC, Miami is part of the Southeast Division, which includes in-state rivals University of Florida, Florida State University, University of South Florida and University of Central Florida.

Miami begins its quest for a third-straight winning season and a possible birth in the SELC tournament at 2:00 p.m. on Feb 12 against Florida Gulf Coast University. The game will be played at FGCU's home field in Fort Meyers, Fla. Last season, FGCU upset Miami by a score of 17-16.

The team is entering is sixth competitive season as a member of the MCLA, posting a career record of 24-25. However, they are on the rise as of late, with a combined record of 14-9 over the past two seasons. Last season was highlighted by a win over division-rival South Florida, as well as impressive wins over the University of Nebraska and the University of Alabama. Miami also lost a thrilling double-overtime game against the University of South Carolina, a Top 25-ranked team, to conclude the season. The team suffered two lopsided losses to Florida State and Central Florida, continuing an unfortunate trend in the team's young history. The team will have to reverse its fortunes this year if it hopes to make a postseason appearance.

The University of Florida always stands to be the marquee game of Miami's conference season as the two teams have shared a number of close games over the years. Last season Miami opened up its season in front of more than 2,000 people at a local high school in a highly anticipated matchup with its fierce rival. While Miami led most of the first half, Florida was able to keep it close and eventually pulled away in the final quarter winning 14-9.

Schultes has marked this year's game with Florida as one of the key games in the season. "One really exciting thing is that we actually catch the University of Florida for the first time since I've been coach, which is four years, in April towards the end of the season."

This could give the team, which is once again dominated by young players, a chance to really click by the time this year's big game comes around, Schultes said. He identified communication as the one thing the team needs to improve the most. This can be attributed, once again, to the team's youth, especially with a number of freshmen and transfers who have never played together before.

"The communication already this year is a big improvement, like I feel like I know everyone on the team and we definitely didn't have that last year," said junior defenseman Steve Krawczyk. He notes that the leadership and attitude of this year's team have contributed to all around improvements.

Both Schultes and Krawczyk have noticed the team's depth, especially on the offensive side of the ball, has increased dramatically. The team will now be able to run multiple offensive lines, comprising mostly freshman, as opposed to the one or two the team struggled with last season. Although the team lost four-year starter Keith Ryan, who was twice named All-SELC, it has made up for it in depth.

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