For the past five years, Salisbury and Stevenson have battled for the CAC regular-season and playoff championships. For the last three years, the teams have split the titles. In 2009 and 2011, Stevenson won the regular-season title and Salisbury captured the post-season crown. In 2010, the Sea Gulls finished atop the CAC standings, but the Mustangs drove home with the playoff trophy.
If the national prognosticators are correct, 2012 will be more of the same. Defending national champion Salisbury is ranked No. 1 in the country and Stevenson, playing in its final season as a member of the CAC, is slotted in the seventh position. The Gulls return several preseason All-Americans, including 2011 NCAA Championship Game MVP Sam Bradman, while Stevenson graduated most of its starting lineup and has the ammunition to reload this year.
The problem with that concept is that there are seven other teams in the CAC that can’t be overlooked. Mary Washington and York, which finished third and fourth last year, both recorded double-digit win totals last year and feel like they’re ready to challenge anybody on their schedule. YCP is looking to continue its climb in the CAC under first-year mentor Brandon Childs, who joined the Spartans after a successful three-year stint at Eastern University.
The same can be said at St. Mary’s, Hood, Wesley, Frostburg State and Marymount. SMC was in the championship game just a few years ago. Hood and FSU are both under the direction of second-year coaches and are building. Wesley and Marymount have shown the ability to play tough against the better foes.
The 2012 season schedule opens this weekend with three non-conference contests featuring York (Saturday vs. Randolph-Macon), Mary Washington (Saturday at Va. Wesleyan) and Salisbury (Sunday at Greensboro). The first week of CAC play is mid-March, when York visits Stevenson on March 14 and three CAC games will be played on March 17.
The nine teams will be vying for the six berths to the 2012 CAC Championship Tournament, which will culminate Saturday, April 28 with the conference title contest.
Here is a quick look at each team heading into the 2012 season:
With its first year of varsity action in the rearview mirror, Frostburg State and second year head coach Tommy Pearce are poised for a successful season in the ever-tough CAC in 2012. The Bobcats return their top scorer from a year ago along with several starters at every position and will look to improve on last year’s 6-11 record. The 2012 Face-Off Yearbook has FSU slated for a sixth-place finish in the CAC this spring.
Hood looks to go out with a bang as the Blazers enter their final season in the CAC … A young Blazer squad, mentored by 2011 CAC Co-Coach of the Year Jeremy Mattoon, will look to make a return trip to the playoffs and produce its best finish yet, but must do so without its two leading scorers from last season … Senior Corey Roberts is Hood’s top returning scorer from last spring after registering 22 points on 17 goals and three assists, while junior Trey Freeman and senior Ricky Orndorff were among Hood’s primary offensive weapons as well … Other key returners include sophomore face-off specialist Randolph Clark and junior goalkeeper Will Lane who look to set the bar at their respective positions … Mattoon has also brought in a stout recruiting class who could challenge the veterans at every position
A new era for Marymount men’s lacrosse begins in 2012 with the opening of the Saints’ new home field at Long Bridge Park. Looking to rebound from a disappointing 2011 campaign and start anew, MU returns 18 letterwinners including eight veteran seniors. Back for the Saints are senior goalie and captain Ross Fernandez along with classmates Matt Hershel, David Huson, Mike Quick, Ronnie Sanna and Mike Smith from last season’s squad while Ryan Doremus and Danny Carson return after a year hiatus. Other key returners include junior Jack Burke, who ranked seventh in the Capital Athletic Conference in man-up goals last year, and sophomore Connor Kellogg, the Saints top returning scorer.
Mary Washington will look to build on the success that saw last year's team tie the school record for victories in a season with 11 and advance to the CAC semifinals. Heading the list of returnees are senior defenders Matt Vazquez and Will Devlin, who will lead the Eagles attack again in 2012. Returning leading scorer Harry Snyder (42 points) heads an offense that saw great distribution last spring, with Sean Dacey, Luke Dick, and John Bohlinger looking to pick up the slack left by the graduation of three of the top four scorers on the team. Defensively, the Eagles saw two goalies - Ryan Montgomery and graduated Ryan Kleman - named CAC Player of the Week last year, and Montgomery will battle for minutes with senior Matt Prin and junior transfer Kyle Davitt between the pipes.
The Salisbury University men’s lacrosse team is coming off of a 2011 season in which the program won its ninth Division III National Championship. The Gulls look to return to form in 2012 as the team returns its top-four scorers. Midfielder Sam Bradman and attackman Matt Cannone, both seniors, will lead the offense as they combined for 166 points in 2011. Senior defenders Andrew Sellers and Chad Surman will control the close defense for Salisbury. Senior long-stick midfielder Evan Hockel returns for the team, as well.
Defense will be the theme for the Seahawks, who will be led by returning all-star Pete Windsor. Windsor, a first-team All-CAC long stick middie, was named honorable mention preseason All-Americans in 2012 Face Off Yearbook. The Seahawks, led by 2009 CAC Coach of the Year Chris Hasbrouck, will be out to improve on last year’s 6-9 overall record and fifth-place finish in the CAC.
Stevenson has sandwiched CAC regular-season titles around the 2010 playoff crown in the last three years, and enters the 2012 season ranked No. 7 nationally by Face-Off Yearbook. But the Mustangs graduated six All-CAC standouts and will have to re-load in 2012. Junior attack Tyler Reed and junior long-stick middie Ryan Rubenstein, who were both named honorable mention preseason All-Americans by Face Off Yearbook. Rubenstein was named the 2011 CAC Rookie of the Year while classmate Toni Rossi earned second-team All-CAC in the midfield.
Wesley returns six starters from last season’s 5-10 squad including two of its leading scorers, Eric Crumbock and Scott Brozey… Crumbock was the Wolverines’ lone All-CAC selection after finishing second on the team with 26 goals and 32 points… Michael McQuarrie also returns at the X after winning 57.4% of his faceoffs and leading the team with 117 ground balls in 2011... Wesley opens the season at home on February 18 when it takes on Greensboro College
YORK embarks on the 2012 season as a different squad than in years past. For the first-time in the history of the lacrosse program, which enters its 13th season in 2012, the Spartans have a full-time head coach as Brandon Childs takes the helm. All-CAC goalkeeper Tyler Powell returns for his senior campaign while 2010 league honoree B.J. Blaker will look for a tremendous close to his excellent career. James Langton will look to team up with Blaker to provide a significant experienced scoring presence. Justin Gordon brings a talented edge to the defense while Ryan Cassidy brings added defensive quality to the program after transferring in following two seasons at Eastern. Sporting an optimistic and energetic attitude, the Spartans will look for a strong 2012 campaign.