Mercy Eying Nation's Top Teams in Spring 2013

DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. (Feb. 19, 2013) After climbing as high as No. 6 in Division II in 2010, just the program's second year in existence, last year's Mercy College men's lacrosse team never really got the chance to match their incredible feat. This year's team is primed for a much more successful year with a solid returning core, led by the program's inaugural recruiting class in its senior year.

New head coach Jordan Levine, promoted from the assistant position he held for the program's first three seasons, takes over with a whole new outlook for the team.

"We want to improve every game," Levine said. "We obviously have some veteran talent but we've added over 20 freshmen, so every day guys are learning and feeling more comfortable playing with each other, all of which will help us most down the line. Of course, our primary goal is to improve on our [6-7] record from last year; none of these guys came here to play on a sub-.500 team."

With the rule change precluding the use of horns for substitutions, fitness and versatility will be more crucial than ever as teams are forced to rotate players less than in the past, and the Mavericks look to be one of the best in the nation in that regard. Levine is quick to highlight the team's increased emphasis on conditioning heading into this season.

"We've done a few things differently to prepare for this spring," Levine said. "There have been a lot of role changes especially, with the way we want to play a fast-paced, up-tempo game and with no more horns, we'll really need to rely on two-way guys. In some ways, this feels like a completely different team because of how many attackmen we are moving into the midfield and the way we expect to play."

A major focus in the offseason was improving a poor transition game. Fortunately, talent and ability have never been in question on the squad; Levine argues that simple decision-making was all that stood in the way.

"We would have some great defensive stances last year, but they'd be all for naught because we'd turn the ball right over in our own end," Levine said. "We just need to make smart plays. We don't always need to go for the home run; smart plays lead to great results. We make sure to finish every play, every drill in practice with a full clear so we can limit turnovers in the game and be clearing the ball up and around 90 percent."

Defense

Just as in their No. 6-national ranking season of 2010, the Mavericks' calling card this year will be defense.

The close defense trio of seniors Michael Munch (West Babylon, N.Y.) and Antonio Vigliotti (Westbury, N.Y.) and junior Frank Palumbo (North Babylon, N.Y.) return for their third season together and can lay claim to being one of the top units in Division II. Each player's skill set perfectly complements the other two while all three communicate extremely well, boast high lacrosse IQs and have improved their ability to initiate counter attacks. One of the best athletes in the country, Munch should again contend for All-America recognition thanks to his quick feet and refusal to be beat one-on-one. Palumbo provides a strong, gritty on-ball presence while Vigliotti is almost equally effective defending on and off the ball and could take his game to a new level thanks to a serious commitment to his fitness heading into the year.

Junior Zachary Reinauer (Sparta, N.J.) and sophomore Owen Krezmien (Buffalo, N.Y.) will serve as the team's primary long-stick midfielders. Reinauer brings an athletic, blue-collar approach that makes him excellent at picking up ground balls while Krezmien is rangy, has a slick stick and has the ability to throw some nice checks.

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2013-02-19



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