Today not Tomorrow – Focus on one day at a time
The Capital University men's lacrosse season is about to begin and though the team has enjoyed past success and is expected to thrive in the future, the focus is on today. Last year is not something that is talked about, all the focus is on the here and now.
To briefly touch on last year, the team finished with a perfect 9-0 record in the conference to win the regular season title and an overall 15-2 record. They landed a school record 10 All-OAC honorees across the first, second, and honorable mention teams in route to breaking many other school records. Now enough about that.
The squad brings back a stable of talent and experience in their upper class ranks as well as numerous young guns ready to contribute in earnest. The Crusaders graduated five players with lots of experience but still have plenty that stuck around with 10 seniors and nine juniors ready to contribute.
The roster is built and ready for the season. Let's break it down.
Versatility on the 'X'
The game starts with the faceoff and the Crusaders have not one but two capable faceoff specialists that can work in tandem to take over a game. Senior Tyler Faig and sophomore Lake Harris have given the team a luxury that most other teams cannot enjoy, two specialists that offer different looks to their opponents. "To have two great faceoff players in the program at the same time really means a lot to us" said Marzano. Last season the pair went 272-for-443 with a faceoff percentage of 61.4 percent and helped Capital to a program record 60.4 overall faceoff win percentage.
Faig is the senior and has taken a huge number of faceoffs because early on he needed the experience like young players do. Now he has a sparring partner in Harris which allows for both to get in reps at practice against a highly skilled opponent and grow together in the process. In game, the two will talk to one another about their opponents' tendencies to better their strategy and success to help the team win. "They are a special pair and I am really looking forward to see what they can do," Marzano said.
On the Attack
The offense put up great numbers last year and is poised to do so again with a strong attack that includes senior CJ Hughes who set the Capital season points record last season. Alongside Hughes are sophomore Jack Scharner, 2019 OAC Rookie of the year, and senior Talbott Gottwals who accumulated 36 points in 2019.
Backing them up are the imposing senior trio of Luke Wyatt, Carter McCormick and Adam Rieger patrolling midfield. All three players compete at a high level, helping to facilitate the run and gun offense that the Crusaders love to employ. Wyatt and McCormick are looking to put to use all the work they have done in the offseason and on top of that Rieger gets to enjoy some redemption as he has battled back from injuries to remain a key part of the team.
On the defensive side Hunter Knipp, Jack Conley, and Connor Ryan have played outstanding with one another since the beginning. "They play extremely well together. That's something that we didn't know would happen this early, we were hoping it would, usually it takes some time, but it just clicked immediately with those three" said Marzano.
With a first year starter in the net, Ryan is the field commander on the defensive side and anchors that end of the field that has great chemistry that has developed over a short period of time.
A Battle for the Net
The Capital defense has been anchored by two star-studded goalkeepers for the last five years but with T.J. Johnson's departure after the 2019 season, there leaves some uncertainty at the position that the team and fans alike have not experienced in a long while.
Josh Snyder is a sophomore returner and gets the nod to start the year after a battle with Sam McInturf and Nick Ferda throughout fall and into the spring. With the experienced defense in from of him, he will be able to focus on stopping shots as a first year starter with the defense guiding the movement in front of him while he grows into the position.
Captains of the Ship
CJ Hughes – Hughes is a second-year captain and has been counted on since day one. "He is a big piece of the team culture and leads by example for all of the younger guys… He brings a standard for himself to practice that you can see and is always working to get better himself and make the people around him better. He is always cool, calm, and collected… and when he talks, people listen."
Luke Wyatt – Wyatt transferred to Capital in 2018 and was named captain in the fall. "Luke's work ethic is hands down one of the best I have ever seen in my life… He has willed himself into being a really good lacrosse player… he leads by example and will do anything to help his team. He is a great man and a great person that puts forth relentless effort to be great. Hid dedication and passion to be great in the offseason is what separates him from everyone else."
Carter McCormick – McCormick has been with Capital all four years and was named captain this season. "Injuries early in career set him back a little bit but he always fought back. In high stress situations, down a goal with four minutes on the clock, he will put his arm around me and just say, "We got this coach." Then he would go out and be a part of the next goal that would win the game. He is cool, calm, and collected and has confidence that he doesn't even know he has. He is the glue behind the locker room and delivers his message to his teammates extremely well. Better than I have ever seen any college kid do it."
The Capital men's lacrosse season kicks off this Saturday the 15th at home versus Southern Virginia at 6 p.m. They then visit Elmnurst before taking on four NCAC teams with a couple other opponents mixed in leading up to OAC play which begins in earnest with Muskingum on March, 28th.
Luke Wyatt on his mindset going into the season
Carter McCormick on who is is looking forward to playing with this season.