GANSEVOORT N.Y. – The Wells College men's lacrosse team was voted to finish seventh out of nine North Eastern Athletic Conference programs according to the first-ever NEAC Men's Lacrosse Preseason Poll, released late last week.
Morrisville State was voted to finish first, according to the league's head coaches. The Mustangs received 64 total points and the maximum of eight first place votes while the Wolfpack from Keuka College was slotted second with 56 points and one first place vote. Cazenovia (46 points) was ranked third while Bryn Athyn (43 points) captured fourth place.
Piloted by first-year Head Coach Andrew Daly, Wells will enter the 2016 season only one year removed from its most successful season ever. Posting a 4-9 overall record in 2015, the Express not only set a program record for victories, but also defeated Medaille by a 13-2 margin on Saturday, Apr. 18 to earn its first NEAC victory in three seasons.
The Express will also debut its brand-new artificial turf field in 2016. Wells has practiced outdoors in February for the first time in recent memory and the ability to work under the lights has provided the team with flexibility not afforded to the teams from prior seasons. Wells will host non-conference Houghton on Saturday, Mar. 12 in the first-ever home men's lacrosse contest at the new facility.
"I am very happy with how quickly these young men have been able to learn and execute new concepts and schemes on both sides of the ball," remarked Daly, who joined the Express last summer from SUNY Oneonta where he served as an assistant coach. "From the first day, the team has shown perseverance and dedication to the program through their hard work on and off the field.
"I have little doubt that we will bring the same intensity and competitiveness to our games that we have brought every day in practice," concluded Daly.
Wells has lost only 14 points of offense from the year prior, returning virtually all of its scoring prowess. Junior Alex Milliken (Hilton, N.Y.) and senior Connor Jansen (Horseheads, N.Y.), two of their team's three NEAC All-Conference selections, are retained after capturing significant career milestones last season.
Milliken, a Second Team All-NEAC selection, scored 24 goals and 23 assists for 47 points (24-23=47) as a sophomore to break the 100-point milestone for his career. As a freshman, Milliken led all NCAA Division III men's lacrosse players in goals per game (3.92) and will enter the season ranked fourth in team history with 104 points of offense to his credit (71-33=104). He has scored at least one point on offense in all but one game across his two-year career.
Jansen, a Third Team All-Conference honoree, finished eighth in the NEAC with 45 points in 2015. Leading Wells with 25 goals last season, he also cashed in with 10 goals and 10 assists against conference opponents. Across his three-year career, Jansen has recorded at least one point on offense in 35-of-36 games played. The team's all-time leader in assists (41), Jansen posted nearly a 50% face-off percentage in 2015 and his career winning percentage of .457 is the second best all-time mark.
Wells also returns sophomore Aaron Heisey (Mechanicsburg, Pa.), who struck for 21 goals and seven assists as a freshman. Classmate Tanner Mingen (Houston, Texas) trailed Heisey by only five points on offense, picking up 16 points and seven assists for 23 points (16-7=23).
Defensively, the Express will look to fill a void created by the graduation of Hayden Shuster '16, who caused a team-leading 36 turnovers and scooped up 45 ground balls in 12 of his team's 13 contests in 2015. Wells does return veteran defensive experience in juniors Brendan O'Connor (York, Pa.) and Derrick Owens (Utica, N.Y.) – the latter recorded a team-best 59 ground balls on defense.
The Express will also see sophomore Zachary Simone (Johnstown, N.Y.) and junior Elijah Tracey (Utica, N.Y.) compete for time in goal. With only 225:06 of career goalkeeping experience at the collegiate level between the pair, the duo will look to replace the team's all-time winningest goalkeeper, graduated senior Tyler Bischoff '16.
Wells will take on an extremely competitive non-conference schedule in 2016, taking on SUNYAC foes SUNY Oneonta and SUNY Geneseo in March before welcoming Benedictine (Ill.) for the first-ever home contest in Aurora under the lights. The Express will take on Hilbert in the first NEAC contest of the season on Wednesday, Mar. 30.
2016 NEAC Men's Lacrosse Preseason Poll Full Results
|Rank||Institution (First-Place Votes)||Total Points|
|1||Morrisville State College (8)||64|
|2||Keuka College (1)||56|
|4||Bryn Athyn College
|6||SUNY Polytechnic Institute||26|
*Tie broken by higher ordinal number points