Feb. 20 – BETHANY, W. Va. – The Bethany College men’s lacrosse team will look to new leadership as well as a cast of returning upperclassmen to continue to push the program in the right direction in the upcoming 2014 campaign.
The Bison are coming off a four-win season in just their third year as a program last year, and will look to build on that success as they push for continued growth. First-year head coach Tim Priskey will take the reigns of the program, as he comes to Bethany having served as an assistant at Thiel College for the past two seasons.
While with the Tomcats, Priskey helped Thiel go from three wins in 2012 to a 7-7 record during the 2013 season. He hopes to bring that same kind of direction to the Bison in 2014.
“As a team, we plan to be well organized on both ends of the field. We want everyone to step up and take responsibility for themselves. We want to be able to keep our composure throughout a game as well as the season.”
The Bison will look to a solid upperclassmen group to lead the way this season, including seniors Brendan Wessells (Severna Park, Md./Severna Park) and goal keeper C.J. Studnicky (Severna Park, Md./Severna Park). With the departure of graduating seniors Kyle Arrington and Zach Gordon last year, two of the top three goal scorers on the team in 2013, the Bison will look to Wessells to step up big on the offensive end. The senior ranked second on the team with 19 goals scored last year, while also adding eight assists. He totaled 27 points while ranking second in shot on goal percentage (.613).
“Being a four-year starter for us, Brendan will assume a lot of the responsibility on the offensive side of the field,” remarked Priskey. “He will be looked up to as one of the players that will lead the most by example then anyone else out on the field.”
Studnicky will be back between the pipes for his final season in 2014. Having steadily improved every year with the Bison, Studnicky captured four victories in goal last season. Despite seeing more shots than he had in any other season, he also improved his save percentage to .555 on the year. Coach Priskey looks for him to continue to be a solid presence in net for the Green & White.
“C.J. will be the backbone of our defense,” commented Priskey of his four-year starting goalie. “He will be the field general out there and will help get everyone on the same page defensively.”
Last season, Bethany continued to show massive improvement on the offensive end, doubling their scoring output from 2012, as they tallied 98 goals during the 2013 campaign. The team also almost doubled their shots on goal output while also increasing their shots on goal percentage.
Joining Wessells in the attack is sophomore Grant Delaney (Wooster, Ohio/Wooster). Delaney appeared in 12 games last season while registering four starts. He finished the year with two goals and three points to go along with a .417 shot on goal percentage.
Other players that will see time on the attack this season are freshmen Jake Holland (Canton, Ohio/Jackson) and Grant Ashcraft (Penns Grove, N.J./Woodstown).
The midfield this season will be led by senior Travis Granich (Huntington, W. Va./Huntington), as well as junior Kyle Lehosit (Bridgeport, W. Va./Bridgeport) and sophomore Kyle Dashiell (Parsonsburg, Md./Wicomico).
Granich, who could also see time as an attackman, appeared in 15 of the team’s 16 games on the year while serving as the primary faceoff specialist, posting 49 wins over the span of the season. He also chipped in well on the offensive end, totaling five goals and six assists for 11 points while also leading the team in ground balls (51). Dashiell made 15 appearances as a freshman last year, notching two goals and two assists while totaling 35 ground balls. Lehosit led the team in faceoff percentage a year ago, while appearing in all 16 games for the Bison.
Other players seeing time in the midfield will include senior Kenneth Lindley (Bentlyville, Pa./Bentworth), as well as sophomore Tim Pagano (Erie, Pa./Fort Leboeuf).
“Offensively, we want to make sure that we play at our pace and not force the issue,” remarked Priskey. “We want to make sure that we don’t just take the first shot we are given, but get the best shot possible.”
On the opposite side of the field, the defense will be lead by Junior Matt Chicoine (New Cumberland, Pa./Mechanicsburg) and sophomore Aaron Bynum (Prince Frederick, Md./Calvert). Bynum appeared in all 16 games for Bethany last year, leading the team in caused turnovers (14) and ranking second in ground balls (46).
“Starting as our long-stick midfielder, Bynum will assume the responsibility of guarding the opponents’ best midfielder each game,” said Priskey of his sophomore LSM. “Bynum has the ability to lead our defense both vocally, as well as physically on the field.”
Chicoine also played big minutes for the Bison last year, appearing in 14 games while making 12 starts as a freshman. He totaled 36 ground balls on the year while causing four turnovers.
Joining Bynum and Chicoine on the defensive side will be freshmen Evan Bender (Wheeling, W. Va./Wheeling Park), Dominic Halstead (Columbia, Md./Wilde Lake) and Caleb Staudenbaur (Chagrin Falls, Ohio/Kenston), who will all look to receive substantial playing time this season.
“On the defensive end, we are looking to play smart and organized,” commented Priskey. “We want to be patient and take advantage of the opponents’ mistakes rather than trying to force the issue and over commit.”
The Bison will kick off the 2014 campaign with a road test at Washington & Jefferson on Feb. 21. The team will then return to Bethany for their home opener on Wednesday, Feb. 26 against Hanover College. Over the course of the year, the Bison will see the friendly confines of Bison Stadium nine times, which include games against PAC counterparts Thiel (April 4) and Saint Vincent (April 9).
“Starting off with three very competitive opponents will give us the opportunity to see where we stand early in the season,” remarked Coach Priskey. “Overall, I feel that we have put together a schedule of opponents that will allow us to be very competitive night in and night out.”
“We have a great group of guys that have been very responsive to the coaching change,” remarked Priskey of the upcoming season. “We have a great senior class and a solid group of underclassmen that are ready to help the program take the next step.”