Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Cardinals start the season strong

Tim Keenan (left) and Kyle Ruland (right) grab a ground ball March 1.

 

By Justin Rushia

A new season means new opportunities. The Plattsburgh State men’s lacrosse team is looking to capitalize on these new opportunities in 2024.  

Coming off a disappointing 2023 campaign in which the Cardinals went 2-13 and scored only 122 goals while allowing 217, the program looks to flip the script this time around. 

The Cards’ 2024 season is off to a good start. It has won three home games already, beating Mount Saint Mary, SUNY Canton, and Russel Sage, eclipsing their total wins from last year. Plattsburgh also notched 21 goals against SUNY Canton, more goals than they scored in any game last season.

“Every team we play, I want them to remember when they played SUNY Plattsburgh,” Head Coach Darry Thornton said.

Thornton is entering his second season coaching the Cardinals. While it’s only his second year coaching at Plattsburgh, he’s not new to the coaching game. Thornton, a former player at SUNY Oneonta, coached lacrosse at several different programs before he came to Plattsburgh. 

Along his coaching journey, Thornton has coached at Hartwick College, Queen’s University, Mount Saint Mary College, Lees-McRae College, Brevard College, and Marian University.  

After coaching in multiple different states, Thornton had always wanted to return to coaching in New York.

“Once I saw the job open, as a poker player, I had to put all my chips in the middle and go for it,” Thornton said. 

Senior attacker John Eisman will headline the Cards’ offense going into the 2024 season. Eisman was a bright spot during Plattsburgh’s dark 2023 season, leading the team with 26 goals — nine more than the second-leading scorer. Eisman also tallied 11 assists, which was good for second on the team. 

The Cardinals are also led by senior midfielder Logan Jones, junior attacker Donald Woods, senior goalie Dan Clements and senior attacker Anthony Faber. Along with the seniors, Plattsburgh has been seeing great things out of some of its younger talent, such as freshman attacker Fynn Whitlock, who has started every game for the Cardinals so far.

A big part of this early success comes from team continuity. For multiple upper-class lacrosse players, Thornton is their third head coach. Constant coaching changes haven’t allowed the Cardinals to get used to and grow in a stable program. 

“We trust in what we do a lot more this year, and we’re a lot closer as a group,” senior Logan Jones said. 

Plattsburgh has a newfound team chemistry they haven’t felt in the past few seasons. Jones stressed that the team being much closer has helped its play on the field. It allows the players to be more confident on the field and lets everyone be more comfortable with each other off the field. 

“We hang out with each other a lot more, and we play for each other a lot more,” Eiseman said.

This season, Plattsburgh looks to maintain its hot start to the season and make a strong push towards the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

The Cardinals also hope to accomplish goals that go beyond their play on the field. Thornton stressed that player growth off the field is his most important goal. He wants his guys to continue to work on their community service, working hard in class toward graduation and leaving a legacy off the field.

“I don’t put numbers on specific wins, losses, goals, all conference stuff,” Thornton said. “I just want to continue to grow, fight and compete.” 

To earn a playoff spot, Plattsburgh will have to earn a top-four spot in the conference and will have to overcome tough Cortland, Geneseo, New Paltz and Oswego teams to get there.

“I love winning more than anything in the world,” Jones said. “All I want is one playoff win.” 

The team has 10 attackers on the roster: first years Dylan Irvine and Justin Ortiz; sophomore Lucas Longhitano; juniors Mike Walsh, Donald Woods, Ryan Weaver and Logan Vilardi and seniors Zach Derhak, Anthony Faber, and John Eisman.

Plattsburgh has eleven players taking the midfield: first years Jamie Gipe and Dylan Zambito; sophomores George Rhatigan and Tim Keenan; juniors Jimbo Farrelly, Ely Buhns and Jab Duval Lapaix and seniors Cam Morin, Chris Falborn, Logan Jones and Spencer Fucheck.

Ten defensemen will suit up for the Cardinals: first years Flynn Whitlock, Timmy Wood and Matt Nystrom; sophomores Kevin Murray, Connor Vanella and Joe Barcher; juniors Matt Gannon, Kyle Ruland and seniors Max Lamitie and Matthew Tomlinson.

Four goalies will defend the Cards’ net: first years Zachary Nacheman and Cole Orehosky, sophomore Jack Mulcahy, and senior Dan Clements.

 

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