Men’s lacrosse slides into ODAC slump

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Men’s lacrosse slides into ODAC slump

Junior attacker Connor Sweeney tries to get by a Westminster College defender on March 13. //Photo By: Deanna Lassiter/Guilford Athletics

Junior attacker Connor Sweeney tries to get by a Westminster College defender on March 13. //Photo By: Deanna Lassiter/Guilford Athletics

Deanna Lassiter

Junior attacker Connor Sweeney tries to get by a Westminster College defender on March 13. //Photo By: Deanna Lassiter/Guilford Athletics

Deanna Lassiter

Deanna Lassiter

Junior attacker Connor Sweeney tries to get by a Westminster College defender on March 13. //Photo By: Deanna Lassiter/Guilford Athletics

After starting the season with a 5-1 record, the men’s lacrosse team has lost all five matches in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC).

“Our inexperience showed a little bit however we were able to learn the pace of play that we need to get to,” said head coach Mark Crisco. “We were able to learn that we have to compete at a very high level to be successful in the ODAC”

The team has had a lot of the inexperienced players having to step into big roles. The players have been improving in the season but have struggled to get wins in the difficult ODAC.

“A lot of underclassmen are getting time and a lot of guys who have stepped into either new roles or have been first-year starters,” Crisco said.

The season started with wins against Piedmont College, University of the South and Methodist University before going 2-6 since then.

Juniors Connor Sweeney and Brennan Sweeney have set the pace for the Guilford offense. Connor leads the team with 29 goals followed by Brennan’s 27. Junior Derek Zacatenco, senior Zach Berkowitz and junior Bryce Craig are the other three goal scorers in double-figures. Brennan leads the team in assists at 18. Connor has assisted on 17 scores, while Berkowitz has 13 this season.

Although the offense has scored 122 goals, it has not kept pace with the rest of the ODAC and that mark sits as eighth in the conference.

“They’re seen top level defenders and top-level goalies in our conference play, so they’re getting the experience they need and they’re playing well,” said Crisco.

Junior goalkeeper Jack Rogers leads the team with 41 ground balls. Junior midfield Connor Leamey has 37 ground balls while sophomore midfielder Michael Hickner has 33. Leamey and Hickner have split face-off duties and both have around a 41 percent winning percentage.

Junior defenseman Tony Batchler leads the team with 16 caused turnovers and was recently named a captain.

The Quakers have relied on Rogers standing in the net and he has 12.49 goals against average. Rogers has made 142 saves, third-best in the ODAC, and has a 50.9 save percentage.

To start the ODAC Guilford has faced five of the seven teams that have won a game in conference play.

“We’ve gone through the traditional top teams, (but) we still have Lynchburg to play later on,” said Crisco. “The top teams are still very strong and have reloaded and we’re looking to reach those goals we’ve had.”

They still have the three other teams that have not won an ODAC game coming up as well as second place University of Lynchburg and third-place Virginia Wesleyan.

“The playoffs are still not out of sight, it’s just we have to earn our way there,” Crisco said.

The Quakers have scored above 10 goals in one of the five ODAC games so far, and that was a 23-14 loss to Hampden-Sydney College. 

With the team still looking for a win in the ODAC, they are still continuing to be positive and competing.

“It’s a lot easier to have fun when you’re winning,” Crisco said. “It shows great character in a team when you can stay together and cohesive when you are losing, the fact that these guys are continuing to compete at high-level even though the scoreboards aren’t necessarily in our favor each game.”

Most recently, Guilford beat Greensboro College in a non-conference game Wednesday, 17-8.

The Quakers face 1-10 Ferrum College on April 6 in a chance to pick up their first ODAC win.