Photo Courtesy of Athletic Communications
Over one-third of the way into its season, Lafayette men’s lacrosse sits at 1-4 overall and 1-2 in the Patriot League.
Here is what you need to know about the Leopards’ areas of struggles and few successes at this point in their 13-game season.
Graduation affects each team differently in the Patriot League, but for Lafayette, the biggest change has come in faceoffs.
Greg Rau ‘13 took 273 of 304 faceoffs last season for Lafayette and won 132 (48.4%). Since his departure, that percentage has dropped significantly to 28%. And that leaves the Leopards and head coach Jim Rogalski searching for answers as their season progresses.
Erik Cannon ‘17 and Adam Broeckaert ‘16 have taken the majority of faceoffs for Lafayette, but Rogalski is experimenting with other personnel.
“We usually like to use one [faceoff man],” Rogalski said. “But right now we’re running like five or six different scenarios. We’re trying to see what works for us. We’re trying to get that faceoff percentage back to 50-50.”
Against Navy on March 7, the Leopards won just five of 17 faceoffs. Navy went on to out-possess, outshoot, and subsequently outscore Lafayette, 11-3.
“The problem with the faceoff is it’s really a one-on-one thing,” Rogalski said. “If your guy is hot, then you’re winning faceoffs and getting longer possessions, and right now we’re struggling.”
The Leopards have scored on just two of 20 man-up opportunities this season.
“No question, man-up is where we’re struggling as well,” Rogalski said. “You can win and lose games on man-up.”
In a 9-6 loss to Delaware on March 4, Lafayette failed to convert on all three man-up opportunities.
Then against Navy, Lafayette scored just once on eight opportunities and seven minutes of man-up.
“We’re trying to figure out the right personnel on man-up, and then we’re looking at cleaning up some schemes,” Rogalski said. “It’s something we’ve really focused hard on this week.”
Defense has been one of Lafayette’s main strong suits.
Boasting 53 saves on the season and a 55 save percentage, goalie Jake Hyatt ‘14 has been the key to keeping Lafayette afloat in the fourth quarter.
As Roglaski put it, “We’re good between the pipes.”
Hyatt has reached double digits in saves three times this season, consistently acting as a reliable asset to the Lafayette defense.
On man-down, Lafayette has held opponents to just five goals on 16 opportunities. Defenseman Mac Ashler ‘14 has led the way, leading the team with nine forced turnovers.
Lafayette will continue to rely on its depth and balance to generate offense for the remainder of the season.
In an 8-7 win over Colgate on February 22, Lafayette received goals by eight different players. Furthermore, no player assisted twice.
“The key is getting everybody involved,” Rogalski said.
If Lafayette can spread its scoring the way it was able to against Colgate, these areas of success will convert to wins.
“We’re trying to get more assisted goals and trying to get the offense running properly,” Rogalski said. “Because if we do, anybody can score, and we’ll be hard to scout.”
Perhaps on an optimistic note for the future, five of the eight goals came from freshmen and sophomores in Lafayette’s win against Colgate.
“We’re still young. That’s a little bit of a telltale that we’re still a work in progress,” Rogalski said. “I think it means that we can be successful right now, but I think it also means that if we continue to work hard and get better then we can be a very dangerous team.”
Lafayette will face Boston University at home tomorrow at 3:30 in a critical Patriot League matchup.
With just six spaces available in the Patriot League tournament, Lafayette finds itself tied with Bucknell for sixth in the conference.
As the team stands right in the heart of the Patriot League season, several more conference wins will be the key to bringing Lafayette to the postseason.
“Our goal is to make the conference playoffs, and once we get to the conference playoffs, to win games,” Rogalski said.
“That’s never changed.”