Division III lacrosse preview for Frostburg State

Monday’s entry kicks off a series taking a look at each of the eight Division III programs in this state according to their order of finish from last season. The Sun’s lacrosse preview is slated to be published on Friday, Feb. 7. This is Frostburg State’s turn.

Overview: The program turned heads in 2013 by going from eight combined victories in the first two seasons to 11 wins in 17 games in the regular season. The Bobcats finished fourth in the Capital Athletic Conference, qualifying for their first league tournament and hosting their first home playoff contest. The team’s postseason hopes ended in an 11-6 loss to Mary Washington in the first round, but with just one starter graduated from last year, the seeds for further development have been planted.

Reason for optimism: Frostburg State averaged 11.7 goals per game last season, and a large amount of credit goes to the starting attack. Senior Ryan Serio (43 goals and 16 assists), sophomore Spenser Love (41, 20) and junior Devin Colegrove (27, 33) are back, and sophomore Nick Stailey (17, 7) can inject instant offense off the bench. Pearce said the return of the attack unit gives the coaching staff a lot of confidence.

“Anytime you return all three of your top scorers from the year before, you’re obviously every excited,” he said. “Hopefully, those guys can continue to put up the numbers they put up last year.”

Reason for pessimism: The Bobcats also bring back their top midfielder in junior Chris Rios (20, 24), but the rest of the midfield is a question mark. Pearce is high on junior Greg Bourne (11, 9), but the coaches are still searching for a third starter to join Rios and Bourne.

“I think the only question mark is who’s going to round out the midfield lines,” Pearce said. “Chris Rios had a bunch of points last year, and Greg Bourne did well. So it’s kind of going to be who runs on the first line with those two guys and how the lines shake out. We pretty much have in mind the eight guys that are going to be the guys competing for those top six spots.”

Keep an eye on: The defense lowered its average from 11.3 goals per game in 2012 to 8.9 in 2013, and even though Nagle (36 ground balls and 16 caused turnovers) is gone, senior Kevin Kinney (19 GB, 13 CT) is expected to join juniors Zach Burkhart (48 GB, 50 CT) and Paul Newman (28 GB, 24 CT) as the starting defensemen. Senior goalkeeper Tyler Haines (8.85 goals-against average and .599 save percentage) will start again if he can hold off a trio of sophomores. But the defense slipped a little in the team’s last six contests, allowing at least 10 goals in four of those games.

“Toward the end of the season, we were giving up a few more goals than we wanted to,” Pearce said. “We want to play a little bit better defense with our shortsticks and really make sure that we’re playing better team defense this year.”

What he said: Last season may have been a watershed moment for Frostburg State, which went 2-15 in 2012. Qualifying for the CAC tournament was validation for the work that Pearce and the rest of the staff had put in to build the program from the ground up. That accomplishment is a fond memory for the players and Pearce. But Pearce said he also wants that achievement to serve as a springboard for even greater success.

“Hopefully, now that we’ve done that, we’re trying to achieve more firsts,” he said. “Making it to the CAC tournament and losing in the first round, as a team, we had never really experienced that kind of situation where you needed to win to stay alive. … Hopefully, it will all pay off and we’ll advance further in the tournament this year.”

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