Crisco leads men’s lacrosse for 2019 season

Guilford College men’s lacrosse ended the 2018 season just above .500 at 9-8, and saw the end of head coach Tom Carmean’s tenure with the Quakers. He leaves with 67-61 cumulative record over eight years, and is the winningest coach in program history.

Carmean was replaced by his second-in-command, Mark Crisco, who served as an assistant coach for five seasons with the Quakers.

“Myself, along with Coach Carmean, were pretty important in laying the foundation for how to play Guilford lacrosse,” Crisco said. “It’s something we’ve built here for a long time, so I think what (athletic director) Sue Bower saw was that I’m able to continue an upward trend of what Guilford lacrosse is and staying competitive.”

Crisco was appointed interim head coach last June and officially made a full-time head coach in October.

“Being a head coach has always been the goal,” Crisco said. “When I first got to Guilford, it was an opportunity. After being integrated into the Guilford culture, it is place where I can see myself for the next 30 years.”

Crisco is looking to apply the core values of the campus to his own program.

“It’s a great opportunity to be in an environment and community I believe in. It’s rare that you find a school as supportive as Guilford,” said Crisco. “We have that excellent balance of guys culturally, academically and athletically on our team. We are probably one of the most diverse lacrosse programs in the nation, and we take pride in that.”

Along with Crisco, key players from last season return for the 2019 campaign. Team captain and senior Zach Berkowitz returns as a four-year starter on attack. He was third on the team with 24 goals and second on the team with 14 assists.

“(Berkowitz) understands what I’m trying to accomplish as a new head coach,” Crisco said. “(Berkowitz) understands what the assistant coaches try to get across to him.”

Berkowitz is joined by juniors Connor and Brennan Sweeney on the offensive end.  Junior Jack Rogers earned the goalkeeper position, replacing Parker Styles ’18, who started in all 50 of his games played. Styles holds the best goals-against average mark at 9.48, and his 2873 minutes played is the most in school history. Rogers had six appearances last season and recorded a 50 percent save average.

“He’s definitely stepped up and been a leader on the defensive end,” Crisco said. “He really impressed me a lot during the fall season and preseason.”

Juniors Derek Zacatenco and Bryce Craig will man the midfield along with senior Joe Eggleston.

While there is a lot of talent returning, key players from last season were lost to graduation. The team lost All-Old Dominion Athletic Conference selections Aswan Bland ‘18 and Will Forrestal ‘18. Derek Spaulding ‘18 posted 27 goals last season and Matt Bowen ‘18 was third on the team with 40 ground balls and nine caused turnovers.

“We got a lot of young guys and a lot of inexperience,” Crisco said. “We have a lot of new guys stepping into new roles. On offense and defense, there are a lot of new faces. There will be a learning curve, but I think our guys are up for the challenge.”

According to Crisco, his young group is meshing together on and off the field. The team participated in a 5k run hosted by the Autism Society and are doing a team bowling tournament over Spring Break, along with a multitude of other events planned.

“Our guys are very hungry for opportunities to do new things,” Crisco said. “It’s great and shows that they’re diverse in their mind. We are able to grow as a team and are in a good spot with a lot of our guys. Players are stepping up as leaders all around.”

This is all part of Crisco’s goal to reestablish a sense of tradition surrounding men’s lacrosse.

“We have a saying: ‘Tradition starts here,’” Crisco said. “We have a rich history of success in lacrosse and an alumni following that wants to be engaged more. We want to lay down the foundation for traditions to be built upon, and to bring back an old tradition of staying highly competitive in a very competitive conference.”

Crisco is also joined by Styles and Connor Manning ’16, who are on staff as assistant coaches.

“It’s been awesome (working with them). They understand the culture of Guilford. Connor was one of those guys who helped build what is now Guilford men’s lacrosse,” Crisco said. “Parker was a phenomenal player for us too. For those guys to give back to the program the way they are, it’s huge for us. They understand what we’re trying to accomplish.”

The team hosts Piedmont College tomorrow at 12 pm to begin the season.   The ODAC play begins on Mar. 9 when the team plays Shenandoah University in the Armfield Athletic Center.