Balanced Attack is Key to 2014 Season for Ducks

HOBOKEN, N.J. (February 18, 2014) Stevens Institute of Technology opens up its 2014 campaign in a rivalry game on Wednesday evening, February 19, at the De Baun Athletic Complex against the United States Merchant Marine Academy at 7:00 p.m. to jump start its run at a fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Division III Championship.

Stevens, ranked 13th nationally in the USILA Top 20 Preseason Poll, will play one of the most difficult schedules in the country this spring. The Ducks face off against five nationally ranked schools in their 16-game slate, with three others on the docket that are receiving votes in the preseason rankings. Within those eight counterparts, six of them participated in the 2013 NCAA Championship. The grueling non-conference schedule will prepare Stevens for one of the toughest conferences in Division III. Stevens' non-conference opponents combined for a 104-44 overall record.

"We begin the season with a rivalry game against Merchant Marine and end non-conference play versus Eastern Connecticut State. All eight teams are proven tournament schools and we've played most of them in NCAAs," stated head coach Gene Peluso.

He continued to speak about the schedule and expressed conference action. "The Empire 8 is as tough a conference in the country but our men will be ready for the challenge. Our non-conference schedule will prepare us to be successful in the Empire 8 this season."

The Ducks finished last season with a 13-5 overall record and 6-1 mark in the Empire 8. They earned an at large bid to the tournament and advanced to the second round for the third straight season where it came to an end in a 14-9 loss to Tufts University (ranked No.4 preseason in 2014).

Peluso emphasized that the 2014 Ducks are a true team. "We are striving to work as a complete team this spring. The coaches and captains have been displaying a lot of energy and positive leadership this offseason. We won't be focusing on past seasons in 2014; our main focus is what's ahead of us all year."

On Peluso's coaching staff this season are Eric Koch, John Odierna and Nicolas Philippi. Koch, now in his fifth season, was recently promoted to associate head coach in mid-January and will work mainly with the team's offense. Newly added Odierna has made a seamless and smooth transition as the team's top assistant in his first year on Castle Point. Philippi joins as a student-assistant after one of the most decorated careers for a Stevens lacrosse player in the program's 129-year history.

On the field, the Ducks will be led by captains Tim Culloty (Mahwah, N.J.) and Michael Maroon (Virginia Beach, Va.). Culloty, a senior long-stick midfielder, was selected as a preseason All-American by after a stellar junior campaign. Maroon, a junior midfielder, returns this season as one of the top offensive threats for Stevens after a 52-point season in 2013 (32 assists, 20 goals).

According to Peluso, the Ducks will lean on four main guys at the attack position this season. All four have appeared in starting roles since stepping foot on campus.

Senior Charlie Cronin (Nothampton, Mass.) will be the top attackman for Stevens after posting 31 goals and eight assists in 2013. Cronin netted at least one goal in 14 of the 18 games in which he played in last spring.

Junior Andrew Scrutchfield (Lewes, Del.) has been one of the most potent scorers for the Ducks over the past two seasons when he is on the field but has been plagued by injuries. Last season, Scrutchfield tallied nine goals and six assists in six contests as a freshman, he recorded 15 goals and nine assists in 12 games.

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