Childs Preparing Team for Start of Lacrosse Season

ROME -- One look at the roster provides an immediate insight about the overall makeup of the 2013 Shorter men's lacrosse team. The third edition of the Hawks is dominated by new names and new faces, from the coaching staff to the majority of the players, who have embraced their roles as being a team that will be the foundation of the program for years to come.

"This is a young team that will be the nucleus for Shorter lacrosse for the next four years," first-year head coach Jason Childs, who takes over the team that has posted a 15-12 record in its first two seasons, said of the senior-less Hawks that will blend some key returners from last year's 8-9 squad with a motherlode of talented freshmen.

"They are young but very athletic and, even better, they are confident," Childs said as the Hawks prepare for its first season opener as an NCAA Division II team on Feb. 8 at Barron Stadium against the Coker Cobras. "I don't think they fear anyone."

The coach's positive take on his first team at Shorter comes on the heels of his first-hand experience with start-up programs, having previously served as an assistant at Limestone where that team posted back-to-back runner-up finishes in the NCAA Division II championships and having started the programs at Presbyterian and most recently at Mercer.

But Childs, whose new coaching staff with the Hawks includes assistants Kevin Woods, D.J. Ward and Jon Athens, said that the commitment Shorter has made to its lacrosse team stands out.

"We have advantages I've never had," said Childs. "Here we are fully-funded and fully-supported and the faith factor has really helped me."

"But the biggest difference I've seen is I have the best athletic director I've ever had," he said. "Bill Peterson understands what we need and that's a huge thing in our favor."

On the field, what the young Hawks have in their favor is a core group of veterans, especially on the offensive side of the field.

Spearheading the unit tasked with putting the ball into the back of the net will be junior Kyle Van Kauwenberg and sophomore Matt Kristianson. Van Kauwenberg rejoins Shorter having tallied 31 goals and six assists last year, while Kristianson led the team in 2012 with 35 goals and 23 assists.

"Those guys will be huge for us," Childs said of the pair.

Roaming the length of the field once again is a seasoned group of midfielders that includes junior Kyle Morris (14 goals) and sophomores Ben Janes (13 goals, 16 assists), Scott Dangel (12 goals), Jordan Butz, Cody Ellis and Stephan Stanfill.

Sophomore defensemen Tyler Bradford and Ken Brinson round out the list of returners that Childs feels will help the new Hawks adjust to the collegiate level.

"We have some experience to help settle the young players down," the coach said.

Save for fifth-year senior attackman Patrick Foy, who was with Childs at Presbyterian and will close out his career at Shorter while he works on his master's degree, the rest of the roster will be freshmen.

Zachery Dirkse, James VandenBrink, Ryan Baird, and Jack Currier join Foy to provide the Hawks more offensive threats, while Andrew King, Joshua Skinner, Spencer Wenzel, Tyler Kristianson and Mike Meyerson give Shorter the needed depth as first-year middies.

"We're set up pretty well on the offensive end but we need to work on shooting and finishing," said Childs, "and what really helps is that they're playing against a very good goalie in practice."

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