Last year’s SUNYAC finalists are back and aren’t looking to settle for anything less than a title and spot in the NCAA tournament.
The Plattsburgh State men’s lacrosse team finished strong in the 2018 season with a 5-1 SUNYAC record, good for second place in the conference.
The Cardinals found their way in the SUNYAC finals after beating SUNY Brockport but were beaten by SUNY Cortland 22-12 for the SUNYAC championship.
Over the offseason, PSUC lost two big contributors in two-time Offensive Player of the Year Ryan Hubbard and 2018 SUNYAC All-Conference First Team offensive midlfielder Billy Moller.
Stepping in Hubbard’s place as this season’s team captain is senior defensive midfielder Nick Della Ratta. With leadership experience as junior captain last season, Della Ratta is confident he, other captains and an experienced senior class that has seen the postseason each year can lead a team with 20 freshman to a title.
“We have such a great senior class,” Della Ratta said. “Every guy prides himself in being in this program for the last four years. We know [the expectation] is nothing less than a SUNYAC championship and moving on to the NCAAs. It all starts with the senior class.”
Della Ratta is also confident the team can find success with the absence of Hubbard.
“A guy like Hubbard is such an outstanding player, so it’s hard to lose him,” Della Rotta said. “But guys are going to step up. It’s going to be a great year for the offense.”
Head coach Joe May has recruited a large freshman class this year, and with the introduction of the 70-second shot clock each possession, having more fresh bodies can come in handy
“It’s going to be more up-and-down like hockey,” May said of the new shot clock. “Having fresh legs is going to be important.”
May is high on his newest players. He expects a handful of them to be ready to contribute right away.
“They’re pretty wise and an above-average group,” May said of the freshman class,” and they’ve got the skill to back it up.”
Freshman long-stick midfielder Tommy DiGiorgio is still adjusting to the college experience but having the upperclassman on the lacrosse team at-hand helped.
“It’s a completely new experience,” DiGiorgio said. “But, because I’m on the lacrosse team, you get the older guys helping you out and showing you around. Overall, it’s been good.”
DiGiorgio looks forward to playing with the upperclassman, saying their postseason appearances are useful.
“All that experience means we have better mentors for our younger kids,” DiGiorgio said.
Although May has high hopes for the freshman class, he knows they’ll have to go through an adjustment period first.
“Shots go faster, hits are harder, the defense rotates quicker,” May said. “Everything is up two or three notches from high school.”
To prepare for the first game of the season tomorrow against Skidmore College, May has been running drills to simulate game-like condition in hopes to prepare his freshman as much as possible.
May is especially excited to see Digiorgio play tomorrow.
“Tommy’s not a very big guy,” May said, “but man, can he play. He’s a little pitbull out there.”
Della Ratta is excited and confident to play his last season-opener with a win.
“Skidmore doesn’t know what’s coming. It should be a big dub for the boys,” he said.