Inside NYIT’s Lacrosse Team

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A small rubber ball, about the size of a large cooking apple, lies still in the center of the field. Two testosterone fuelled adolescent men crouch over it, anticipating the referee’s whistle. Once that whistle is blown a caged animal is released, they become two feuding rams clashing violently until one has possession of the ball. Ferocious stick-checks, brutal take-outs, not to mention, 100 mile per hour shots, in which the unassuming little rubber ball becomes a nuclear torpedo ripping through the air, are part and parcel of the game we call, “lacrosse.”

Lacrosse is a game whose origin dates back to 1100 A.D in Native American cultures; it’s almost exclusively played in North America. However, the game as we know it came about during the mid-nineteenth century by Canadian dentist William George Beers. The game is played at all levels in the United States and Canada, ranging from grass-roots all the way through collegiate and semi-professional lacrosse. You, the natives of Long Island are probably extremely familiar with the game, whether you played it through high school or merely been aware of the game. Well this is due to Long Island being a historic hotspot from lacrosse. However, across the pond things are much different. Albeit England boasts the title of reining European Lacrosse Champions for the past two tournaments, English lacrosse is no-where near as popular as in the United States. The game is pocketed in small regions of the British Isles, mainly in the Manchester area in Northern England. With only 19,000 registered players in English lacrosse the game is relatively small, especially in comparison with the 2013 NCAA Division II final attendance of 22,511. The game has too many similarities to an Irish game called ‘hurling’. Anyone who has ever watched a game of hurling will understand this game is not for the feint hearted. You have to be of different stock to play hurling, and many European’s have the same mentality regarding lacrosse. On the other hand, hurling players don’t wear pads and hit each other with thick wooden sticks, so playing lacrosse does look slightly more tempting!

At the helm of NYIT’s lacrosse team is Coach Bill Dunn and kicked off the 2014 campaign in Florida. Opening the season with a tough loss against the University of Tampa 15-6 wasn’t an ideal start to the season, but the Bears bounced back defeating Florida Southern 9-8. The build up to this trip was severely hampered by the unusual winter weather. The wintery conditions that have gripped the northeast region have forced the lost lacrosse team to alter their training, practice indoors and even cancelling training altogether. This was worlds apart from the conditions they faced in Florida, where mid-day temperature reached around 75° and humidity levels of around 65%, which had a huge effect on performance. This mixed start to the season highlights the tough season ahead, especially with the addition of an East Coast Conference play-off. Coach Dunn believes this “should be interesting, it’s hard enough a team once in a season, now we’re going to be asked to do it twice.”

Junior defender Ed Torriero, of Rocky Point, N.Y. was one of the four Bears awarded Preseason All-America accolades by Inside Lacrosse magazine that included Luke Miller, Danny McDermott and Ryan Brunet. All four of these players tasted defeat at the hands of Adelphi University in last year’s NCAA tournament, a hard fought game in which NYIT were edged out 14-11; something which is clearly in the back of their minds, and Torriero admits, “Personally, I didn’t have a great game against Adelphi,” he says. “We really need to go back and really go after Adelphi because they’re going to be a strong team again.” In addition to these returning players with their immense talent, are a selection of new freshmen and transfer students who are all looking to make a big impact for the Bears. While Coach Dunn believes Tom Hughes is the freshman to watch out for this year, Torriero places his faith in Will Kistinger, Mike Luccarelli and George Schultz. Speaking on Hughes Coach Dunn states, “[he] is an impact player, he has some intangibles which we don’t have as a team, he has speed. While Luke Miller uses his strength, Tom uses finesse and speed. He’s going to be tough to defend.”

All involved with NYIT’s lacrosse program, whether that is the players, coaches or even supporters aspire to be in the ECC play-off and NCAA tournament. Leading the Bears from the back stands senior Danny McDermott, a native of Vancouver Canada.  McDermott is entering his final season at NYIT and wishes to bow out of his collegiate career with a bang; “Ideally we definitely want to go all the way to the championship,” says McDermott. “Both as a team and individually I want the best season possible.” Having represented Canada at the 2012 FIL U19 Men’s World Championship, where he was awarded the ‘Most Outstanding Defender’ and voted to the All-World Team, he brings a wealth of experience and talent into the defense, something which could be needed with relative inexperience between the sticks. Coach Dunn thinks the team is stronger defensively, but is aware of the lack of experience in goal; nonetheless, he is confident they will step up and perform well this season. Without looking too far in the future, Dunn aspires to compete for the both the ECC play-off and NCAA championship, but knows the danger of planning too far ahead. The old cliché in sports – ‘take each game as it comes’ springs to mind, and the Bears will certainly be doing that. Come May 25, 2014, we should expect to see some familiar faces crossing the white lines at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium, raring to continue the intense, fast-paced and, somewhat, violent action of lacrosse.

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