2014 Season Preview

2014 Season Preview

            The 2013 season saw the Lynchburg men's lacrosse team reach the NCAA Quarterfinals for the second time in program history on the shoulders of eight seniors with a final record of 14-6. The 2014 season brings 10 new seniors into the fold who are poised to return to the NCAA tournament and take the next step in contending for both the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Championship as well as the National Championship. Thomas Rodenhouse, a senior midfielder and captain made it clear that "it was great to make the quarterfinals last year, but no one is satisfied with that. We have not really mentioned last year because we want to push past that and go even further, starting with winning the conference."

The Hornets were selected first in the ODAC Pre-Season Coaches Poll, just two points ahead of conference foe Roanoke College. Inside Lacrosse's Faceoff Year Book Magazine has the men ranked ninth in the national preseason poll, followed by Roanoke College at number 11 and Washington and Lee University at the 13th spot, making the ODAC one of the most competitive conferences in the country. Senior captain and returning second-team All ODAC defender, Tommy Kestermann had this to say about the conference outlook in 2014; "The preseason poll is great but the end result is what matters. It's a wide-open conference right now and one of the toughest in the country. Obviously our expectations are to win the ODAC at home and ring our victory bell."
The 2014 Hornets feel they have put together one of the toughest out of conference schedules a Division III program can play. The 17 game regular season schedule consists of eight out of conference opponents. Of those eight teams, six were NCAA tournament teams in 2013 and eight programs are represented on the Hornet schedule within the preseason top 20 national rankings (Stevenson, Cortland, Salisbury, Cabrini, Nazareth, Roanoke, Washington and Lee, Gettysburg). Junior captain and second-team all-conference goalie Adam Davey commented, "It is great to play so many top 20 teams in the country and we need to use those opportunities to establish ourselves. We want to prove, most importantly to ourselves, that we are able to get where we want to be and you do that by playing the best schedule you can."
Highlighting the 2014 schedule are games against #7 Cabrini College at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., as well as a trip to Owings Mills, MD to play #3 Cortland State and #8 Nazareth College at Mustang Stadium on the campus of Stevenson University. This four-team event will be the inaugural Mustang Mid-Season Classic, a Division III event designed to bring some of the top talent at that level of lacrosse together in a final-four format. Stevenson, Cortland, Lynchburg and Nazareth reached the NCAA tournament Championship game, Final Four, Quarterfinals and Second Round respectively in 2013. The bouts with Cortland and Nazareth will be the first-ever in program history for Lynchburg in the sport of Men's Lacrosse.
The Hornets return two of the top five scorers from the 2013 team, led by sophomore Austin Stewart (31 goals, 6 assists) at the attack (2013 All-ODAC third team) and senior captain Campbell Armstrong (22 goals, 13 assists) at the midfield position. The offensive cupboard is full with fresh faces as well as some who have patiently waited their turn to give opposing defenses fits and high expectations have been set for an offense that will be a pest for any defense in 2014, looking to build off of last season's output of 12.4 goals per game. Armstrong believes this offensive group is "underdogs that play with a chip on their shoulder. We don't have a superstar and we are really well rounded with guys no one knows about."
As for the Hornets backline, every starter from the 2013 team has returned in 2014, led by senior captains Jon Gill (37 gb, 25 ct) and Kestermann (52 gb, 24 ct) as well as Davey (57.4 %, 7.69 GAA), who started every game in 2013 between the pipes. Davey will be pushed by fellow classmates Andrew Fawkes, James Cook and sophomore Chris Hawley in quite a position battle. Headlined by Gill, a preseason Second-Team All-American, Lynchburg looks to improve upon their play from 2013, giving up 7.5 goals per game. Returning all personnel, including four all- conference players in Davey, Kestermann, Gill and junior Evan Leeder (17 gb, 15 ct), should provide more experience, maturity, and grit in 2014 on that half of the field. Also returning is Rodenhouse (1g, 4gb), a top defensive short-stick option who will be asked to take on a larger role with his athleticism and I.Q. of the game. Kestermann and Gill added, "everyone comes back and we have spent more time improving rather than teaching because of our leadership. The freshman have come a long way and we are becoming a very cohesive unit that just plays together". Gill concluded by saying "we are a fundamental program built around earning your keep. That's why we want to play the schedule we do. We as a unit want to surpass last year and that's what we expect. We want to be tougher."
In Head Coach Steve Koudelka's 18th season, the program has established a reputation of winning with a genuine toughness that is recreated and practiced every day.  Coach Koudelka weighed in on the 2014 season by saying, "we are very excited about the 2014 schedule. We are always going to try to play the best teams that we can. This gives us the ability to compete at the highest levels and I know that our guys are excited about that.  I am most excited that our best players on our team are the guys that have consistently worked the hardest. That is a great characteristic of this team and program." These are qualities that Coach Koudelka and the staff feel have helped build expectations year in and year out. When asked if the 2014 season would be approached any differently, Koudelka responded with, "Each and every year I think I tend to enjoy the Journey a bit more. We have had three-plus weeks of practice and I have tried to enjoy each and every day. I think when I started this job, I had a tendency to look ahead to the games more, but now I appreciate the practices the most. That is truly my favorite part of my day."
The Hornets begin regular season play Saturday, February 15 when they travel to Salisbury, MD to take on the Seagulls of Salisbury University at 1 p.m., ranked fourth nationally in many polls. The home opener will be on February 22 when Lynchburg College hosts the Franklin and Marshall Diplomats on Shellenberger Field at 1p.m. 
2014 Season Preview
February 12, 2014 2014 Season Preview