Men’s Lacrosse’s Speicher Eyes Third Straight ECC Bid
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The Maverick lacrosse team was down by three points as it was playing under the spring sun of 2015 against the Rollins College Tars. The hopes at a Florida sweep were soon fading away as the minutes were counting down.
It wasn’t too late though for Daniel Speicher, then a sophomore, as he broke through with back to back goals, less than a minute apart, making it 8-7, with 2:59 left in the regulation.
Robert Rossi, then a junior, scored, leaving 1:17 left on the clock, to tie the game up at 8-8. The overtime period saw no one score until there was 3:21 left. Speicher had his opportunity as he had the ball in his possession and took full advantage of it. Nick Wilcox, then a sophomore, took the pass from Speicher and put it past the Tars’ goalkeeper, making the winning goal.
It resulted in a comeback win, as well as a Florida sweep, just like the Mavs had hoped for.
But for Speicher, now a senior studying business administration, the desire he had to play that day is something that is unforgettable, even two seasons later.
“It’s hard to look over your shoulder and think what you could’ve done,” Speicher said. “The game taught me that it’s not about the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight inside the dog.”
Speicher knows it doesn’t matter if he’s not the biggest player out on the field, but what really matters is the amount of desire and resolve inside him. And in the game against Rollins, that’s exactly what happened.
“For a team to come from behind and win the way we did, it was great,” Speicher said. “Especially when it was done with a great group of guys that I was so close to.”
To many of his teammates and coaches, Speicher is known as one of the only players to switch his jersey more times than anyone else on the team.
Entering Mercy as a freshman, no. 21 was already in use, so he chose no. 1, but wasn’t able to wear that number and chose no. 12, instead. For his sophomore year, Speicher switched to no. 36, to honor a friend’s legacy.
“One of my best friends, Joe Ferriso, was killed in a car accident,” Speicher began to say. “He played lacrosse for Hofstra and was no. 36. I felt that, wearing his number, was my way of honoring him.
“Every second of each game that I played, it was all for him,” Speicher said as he referenced the game against Rollins College.
Not only does Speicher honor his friend Joe, but he also honors a brother of one of his friends, Ryan Bailey, who he refers to as a Seaford lacrosse legend.
“He was an excellent player, leader, teammate, brother, and friend,” he says. “Before every game, I use the same marker that I used in high school, to write his number on my calf.”
Fast forward to Speicher’s junior year, he was able to switch his number once again. This time, he switched to the number he originally planned on wearing: 21. And has been that number ever since.
“Twenty-one’s always been the number I wore growing up, and it was also my cousin’s number.”
Though he stopped wearing no. 36, he still honors his fallen friend by the paper taped to the chin of his helmet. But as for no. 21, wearing the same number as his cousin once did, stemmed from the fact that he was the biggest influence as to why he grew a liking for the sport.
“When I was younger, my cousin played Division I at UMass,” Speicher said. “I’d sometimes watch him play under the lights and later professionally.”
Adding, with a smile on his face, he said, “That was the biggest motivator for me, just watching him.”
When Speicher finally came of age, he started lacrosse in the first grade. Sixteen years later, it’s still the same sport he’s made many achievements in and still prepares for, every spring.
In 2015, Speicher ranked third on the team with 25 goals, dishing out 11 assists for a total of 36 points, which ranked fourth on the team. Speicher was named to ECC Weekly Honor Roll, and ended the 2016 season ranked second on the team with 16 assists, as well as, ranked fifth with a total of 28 points.
During his junior year, Speicher was nominated to be captain, which has been a great honor to him ever since.
“To be captain, my junior year, was a great honor. It’s even a great honor to be a part of a team that ranks high in the nation.”
The team is currently ranked tenth in certain publications.
In Speicher’s experience, lacrosse is the most team oriented sport.
“You could have 1o to 15 guys on the field at once, but they’re all working together,” Speicher said. “In fact, the U.S. Marines recruit many lacrosse players because of how team oriented it is.”
Being captain comes with responsibility to set a good example, have a positive attitude, and camaraderie to the rest of the team. It’s the same skill set Speicher will have to use once he enters a full time career in the business world after this upcoming May.
“A spring without lacrosse is going to be weird,” Speicher says as he shares a nervous laugh.
But as for now, Speicher and the rest of the men’s lacrosse plan to make this season another great one, as they’re coming off a 9-6 season which saw them make the ECC Tournament for the second straight year.
Ending the season, the team ranked no. 13 in the final USILA Coaches Poll, but the prospects are looking good for the Mavericks. They were ranked no. 10 in Inside Lacrosse Face-Off Magazine Preseason Poll. The ranking is the highest for the Mavericks since their 2012 season when they were picked seventh by the magazine.
Head Coach Jordan Levine and the Mavericks squad will open the season on Feb. 15 at home against American International.
“This is a very deep and talented recruiting class,” Levine stated. “We have a nice mix of experienced transfers and athletic freshmen. It is our goal and belief that these student-athletes will aid in elevating our program even greater heights.”
The Mavs will then open up ECC play on March 18 at District of Columbia, beginning their quest to qualify for the ECC Tournament for the third straight year. The team was picked third in the ECC Preseason Poll after NYIT and LIU Post.
“Every season we all try to become better,” Speicher said. “We expand our game, look to improve on and off the field.”
“The goal, like always, is to win the playoff and see the ECC.”
Speicher currently has 80 points in total and could potentially surpass the 100 mark, which only three Mavericks have done. But he feels just knowing that he has the ability to play on the field, day in and day out for years representing his college, has been a true blessing in itself.
As the minutes start counting down to game time, Speicher prepares for the season opener against American International. He opens the cap of the red marker and begins to write the number 15 on the leg band, situated above his right calf, then closes it.
After, he checks the chin of his helmet to ensure that, taped to it, reads, “J.F. #36.”
Once he’s finished, he takes his lacrosse stick with those same initials and number printed on it and heads to the field.
“It’s not about the size of the dog in the fight,” Speicher starts to think to himself, “It’s about the size of the fight in the dog.”
The somber feeling that this is his last season opener, for good, catches up to Speicher as he knows he’s not ready to say goodbye.
He takes a few minutes before he exhales.
“One last go with the boys.”