Dragons Scrimmages against Rutgers & Maryland

Dragons Scrimmages against Rutgers & Maryland

The Dragons finally got a chance to beat up on another squad after weeks of practice battling it out in preparation of the 2013 season.  A few freezing, faithful members of WPF braved the conditions and saw a great day of lacrosse at beautiful Penn Park.  While UPenn took advantage of their heated bubble practice field, the Dragons gritted it outside for four hours in the teens.  Talk about a character builder.  Some highlights (more from the Rutgers scrimmage since frost-bite was settling in during the second half of the scrimmage against the Terps)

Apparently I missed the first goal of the game which turned out to be highlight reel worthy, as Robert Church snared a pass out of the air with one hand and finished in one motion to put the Dragons on the board early.  The Dragons dominated all facets of the game.  The two-headed attack of Deven Thomas & Nick Saputo looked to be firing on all cylinders throughout the day and is always a huge advantage when you can trot out two players that can win you draws and create some unsettled situations.  Wing play was also very solid, with a combination of Pat Root and Jason Klunder seeing most of the action on the draws and creating numberous fast break opportunities with their speed.  Paul Zelenak also saw some wing play and figures to rotate with Root at the pole position this year 

Really liked what I was seeing from the defensive midfield standpoint.  Although the Dragons lost two four year starters in Andrew Collins & Chris Farquhar, the d-middie situation looks like it hasn't dropped off.  The combinations changed, but the play was solid from Garret McIntosh, Jason Klunder, Matt Clark & Jordan Klunder.  Look for that to be a huge strength of the Dragons especially in CAA play when you need shorties that can cover from up top.  Pat Root looked to be taking the majority of the reps at LSM and even stuck a nice goal a la Dana Wilber.  Gotta love a pole that can shoot the rock.  

The attack started off with Robert Church, reigning CAA Rookie of the Year Ryan Belka and lefty Canuck, Mitch de Snoo.  This unit played extremely well, got a lot of good shots on cage and hustled their asses off riding.  Those in attendance took note of the fits they were giving the opposing d-poles and the amount of opportunities and possessions created by their hustle.  Great to see so early in the season, especially on a day as cold as Saturday.  Lefty attackmen Frank Fusco came in during the second half and showed some flashes, scored a couple of nifty goals and showed that he'll be able to step in and contribute during his rookie campaign.

With a couple starters from last season looking like they were in mid season form, the offense got a huge boost from the dodging abilities of their big, talented midfield group.  Aaron Prosser anchored the first line and had a couple nice dishes, some shots off the post and a huge hustle play to trail check a defenseman from behind that set up a fast break for the Dragons.  Ben McIntosh looks poised for a breakout year as well, bullying his way to the cage and getting off shots at will.  Big stats and production are bound to come from these two hosses this year as it looks like they picked up where they left off from last year.  Cliff Simeon also had some nice dodges up top and got some looks.  T.J. Foley is also a big body and he stuck a couple shots off stick high from up top, look for him to get some serious burn this year.  A pair of freshman that stood out (and who will be featured in interviews this week on WPF) were Hank Brown and Jordan Cunningham.  Cunningham is a Canadian and it looks like he's well adjusted to the outdoor game, had a nice split dodge that he beat the keeper low on.  Brown, the Landon product, also looks like he's caught up to the speed of the college game already and showed some flashes before going down with what appeared to be an ankle injury.  Reports are that it wasn't anything too serious and that he'll be day to day.  But the Dragon faithful can rest assured that the midfield is in good hands this year.  Senior Chris Franklin also got on the board with a rip from outside and continued to show good north-south dodging capabilities with a heavy shot from outside.  Jules Raucci, the local product, also showed his dizzying change of direction and had a nice goal on the day as well.  

The defense looked good for their first scrimmage against some solid competition.  As previously mentioned, the d-middies and defense worked well together and talked through some early communication problems to rebound nicely.  Rutgers was frustrated, confused, you name it, they were feeling it.  Returning starters Tyler Houchins, Matt Dusek & captain Chris Walsh anchored the defense and will continue to gel as a unit as the season progresses.  Paul Harrison & Chris Panichelli also got some minutes and looked capable of stepping in if called upon during the season. 

The goalie battle will definitely be an intriguing battle to watch with UVA in less than two weeks.  Dan Rodgers got the start against Rutgers and played very well, gobbling up shots from outside and making some nice saves.  Spelling him in net were Will Gabrielson & Cal Winkelman who all continue to push eachother as the coaches decide who'll man the pipes for the start of the 2013 season.

All in all, a great start for the season and the Dragon fans that were there were very exicted about the play of the boys on the field.  They head to UMBC for a scrimmage this week and get ready for the Cavaliers the following.  Stay tuned for some freshman interviews we'll be rolling out this week and stay warm.