Men’s Lacrosse Earns National Ranking

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Inside Lacrosse has them ranked seventh nationally.

Lacrosse Magazine wrote a feature article on them called “Third year holds massive potential for Mercy.”

They have four pre-season All-Americans, the returning Goaltender of the Year, and a ton of confidence.

Throw in that they are manned by Coach of the Year, Steve Manitta, and you have the formula for a very successful season.

Despite all the buzz surrounding the Mercy Maverick’s lacrosse team this season, Manitta and his players aren’t at all impressed by the preseason accolades they’ve been receiving.

“The team knows this means nothing. The rankings, the preseason stuff, all the accolades – it doesn’t really mean anything. It just means that we’re being noticed and that’s great for Mercy College,” said Manitta.

The Mavericks are entering their third season in the ECC. The first season resulted in a 5-10 record, a fairly decent season for an inaugural program. Last season came a turnaround that no one, except for maybe the coach and the Mavericks, saw coming.

Paced by the top ranked man-down defense in the NCAA and Goaltender of the Year, junior T.J.Dicarlo, the Mavericks shocked the league by going 11-3 on the season, 7-3 in the ultra-competitive ECC.

The playoff format only allowed four teams through, so despite their impressive record, the Mavericks were denied the first playoff berth in school history. The playoff format will soon be changed to allow eight teams through, but that’s not at all something the Mavericks are banking on.

The Mavericks feature a balanced scoring attack that saw their top three scorers, Sal Spinelli, Mike Marzocca, and Jesse Wood, score 27, 27, and 26 goals respectively. John Lionetti earned honorable mention for the All-Conference team as a specialist after finishing fifth in the nation on faceoffs and second in the conference (fifth in the nation) in groundballs.

“The sky’s the limit…it’s really just all about the work these guys put in,” says Manitta. “You get that taste and you want it bad…we got the talent and the sky’s the limit.”

The team just has to worry about staying out of its own way.

The Mavericks had a team that was primarily comprised of freshman and sophomores last season, and the biggest hurdle that the team had to overcome was their propensity for turnovers.  The explosive scoring attack, top ranked special teams, and the conference’s top goaltender eradicating the mistakes is the difference between an 11-3 record and sitting on the outside looking in at the playoffs and being a bona fide contender.

“We turned the ball over 50 times in two games last season in games that we won,” laments Manitta. “It tells you how talented we really are if we can take care of the ball, not force things, and just manage possessions. That’s the biggest challenge for us because that’s the way we play on both ends of the field; we get after it pretty hard.”

The Mavericks have no intention of being just a good story this season. Manitta indicated that the grace period is long over, and with all of the preseason hype awarded his team, comes a change in status. This season’s Mercy squad is not going to sneak up or surprise anyone this season. Their status in the league has changed as they’ve gone from the hunters to the hunted. There is now a bull’s-eye squarely on their backs, and they are now regarded as one of the good teams, no longer an “up and comer”. Manitta said that his team views it as a challenge, that “pressure is a privilege,” and that his squad is more than ready to meet the call of their newly amplified expectations.

The NCAA lacrosse championships will be held in Gillette Stadium in late May.

Asked where he expects his team to be at season’s end, Manitta answered simply: “Foxboro. Book your rooms.”