Royals Set to Open the 2013 Season

A new era begins for The University of Scranton men's lacrosse program this Saturday, February 23, when the Royals host Farmingdale State at 1:00 p.m. at Fitzpatrick Field.

Former Gettysburg College player and assistant coach Doug Sage takes over the reins of the Royals, looking to continue the progress of his predecessors.

In the last five years, Scranton has posted four winning seasons and is less than two years removed from its first-ever Landmark Conference championship and first NCAA Division III tournament appearance. In addition, the Royals have qualified for the Landmark tournament in four of the conference's five years of existence.

Sage will work with a core of the players that made the aforementioned success possible. Of the 29 returning lettermen, seven are seniors and eight are juniors, giving Sage a veteran foundation to build his program.

His goal is simple. "We want to compete for the conference championship, that's our ultimate goal," Sage says. "Our overall goal for the program is to try and take the next step and play at a high level."

And to do that, he'll rely on senior captain Tim Cleary (Shrewsbury, NJ/Christian Brothers Academy) to move the Royals in right direction. Cleary made history last spring by becoming the first player in Scranton history to earn all-America honors by the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA), landing a spot as an honorable mention at long-stick midfield. Joining him on the defense side of the field will be junior captain Ryan Saraceni (Lansdale, Pa./LaSalle), who was also a key component of a defensive unit that held 10 opponents under 10 goals.

Scranton also returns senior Ben Worthington (Jenkintown, Pa./Archbishop Wood) in goal. He started 14 games a year ago, posted an 8-6 win-loss record, and enters his final season as the Royals' all-time leader in goals against average (11.78). He is also second in wins (17) and save percentage (.560) and sixth in saves (281) and saves per game average (7.81) in Scranton history.

In the midfield, Sage will count on senior captain Dillon McInerney (Hawthorne, NJ/Bergen Catholic) and junior John Gregitis (Wayne, Pa./St. Joseph's Preparatory) to provide leadership and experience. McInerney, a first-team all-conference selection last spring, has played in 39 games in his career while Gregitis has yet to miss a game over the past two seasons. Each was also among four players on last year's roster to record at least 11 assists.

Up front at attack, senior Taylor Nelson (Chester Springs, Pa./Downingtown East), a 2011 Landmark Conference second-team selection, is a consistent scoring threat who is seven points shy of becoming one of only 21 players in Scranton history with 100 points in a career. He scored 28 goals a year ago and a team-leading 31 in 2011. The Royals were, however, hard hit in the attack area, losing three of their top five scorers from a year ago.

Nevertheless, Sage likes what he sees. "Right now we have a strong core of leaders in our junior and senior class," he says. "We have some freshmen and sophomores who are athletic and skilled enough, and if they continue to learn our system, they have the ability to blend in with our core of upperclassmen."

Scranton's non-conference schedule includes four opponents who posted winning seasons last spring, the most notable being Cortland St. (21-1), the 2012 NCAA runner-up, who the Royals will meet in upstate New York on March 6. Also expected to toughen Scranton up for the rigors of Landmark Conference play will be York College (Pa., 9-7) on February 27, Marywood University (10-8) on March 16, and Franklin & Marshall College (10-5) on April 10.

Defending champion Goucher College (18-2) is the favorite in the Landmark Conference, but Drew University (13-4), Susquehanna University (9-7), and Scranton could easily upset the apple cart. Parity has been the trademark of the league so far, with four teams claiming conference titles in the league's five-year history.

2013-02-23



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