Otterbein University 2012 Season Preview

WESTERVILLE, OHIO Otterbein University men's lacrosse will be looking to turn the corner in 2012, which will mark the program's third season since beginning competition in the spring of 2010.

Eight of the team's top-10 scorers from 2011 are set to return for third-year head coach Colin Hartnett, who saw his squad go 11-21 over the first two seasons of building the program.

"We are a year older, a year stronger, and a year smarter," Hartnett said. "With three recruiting seasons under our belt we are able to approach the season with much higher goals. My junior class is strong and has come a long way since 2010."

Senior Mike Spatafore, junior Steve Resch, and sophomore Andy Hufford will serve as the team captains in 2012.

Junior Andrew Donatelli is back a year after tallying 34 goals and a team-best 51 points. Joining him is 2011 Offensive MVP Graham Shippy (19 goals), along with a handful of sophomore offensive threats in Mikey O'Neal, Eric Garris, Pat Teynor, Ryan Klipa, and Mike Dattolo. All made steady contributions last season as freshman, with O'Neal registering a team-high 19 assists.

Junior midfielder Juan Contreras returns after earning team co-Defensive MVP honors as a sophomore, and classmate Chistan White is also back as part of the midfield unit.

Spatafore and Resch will head the defensive group yet again, as the two combined for 42 ground balls and 20 caused turnovers last spring. Also back for the defense are sophomores Matt Taflan and Connor Underwood. Taflan led all Otterbein players with 17 caused turnovers as a freshman.

In the cage for a third year in a row will be junior goalie Adam Hatchard, who shared Defensive MVP honors with Contreras last season. The Michigan native came up with double-digit saves in six outings in 2011, including a career-best 19 against Christopher Newport (Va.).

Despite still being a young team, Hartnett is excited about the leadership of his strong junior class.

"The expectations I have of my juniors is very high considering we have no four-year players on the roster," he said. "These guys have seen this program grow over their three years and they know better than anyone what my expectations are."

In addition to the veteran leadership, Hartnett also anticipates being able to utilize a talented freshman class.

"Our freshman class is strong and I expect them to contribute immediately," Hartnett said. "As a young team, we don't have the luxury of bringing guys along slowly. We've had some recent injuries this preseason and it's going to force some of those newcomers to step in right away. We will learn quickly what kind of team we are."

The Cardinals will open the season with a three-game trip down south spanning March 10-15 before returning to host its home opener March 19 vs. Hendrix (Ark.).

"I've always felt that spring break is when a team really comes together, and for us to kick off the season with these three games is exciting," Hartnett said. "Our schedule is challenging and that is something we take pride in."

2012-03-09



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