As close to a standout as Hood has, James Weger forged one of the best performances among Commonwealth Conference men's lacrosse players this spring.
The junior defenseman led the Blazers (4-12 overall and 1-7 in the league) in caused turnovers with 49 and ranked second in ground balls with 73, trailing only junior faceoff specialist Randolph Clark’s 108 ground balls.
Only Lebanon Valley senior defenseman Ryan Lanigan finished with more caused turnovers (56) and ground balls (101) than Weger among Commonwealth Conference players. But the 6-foot-2, 208-pounds Weger’s value to Hood can’t be understated by coach Brad Barber.
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“He’s been dominating,” Barber said. “He’s easily one of the best in the conference, and I don’t think he gets the amount of recognition that he deserves because of our win-loss record. Having James on the team, he’s a very, very solid defenseman. He’s a guy that we’ve turned to the last three years and said, ‘Hey, we need something,’ and he’s been the one to get the job done for us. He’s had some of his best games against some of the best teams in our conference. … Just having him adds a different dynamic to our defense. Not only does he play very well, but when he’s playing on that field, he brings up the other guys around him, which is huge. Having that kind of defenseman who has that impact to the guys around him, that filters down.”
Weger posted five ground balls and three caused turnovers in the team’s 15-1 loss to 2013 NCAA champion Stevenson on April 9; eight ground balls and six caused turnovers in an 11-6 loss to Albright on April 26; and 11 ground balls and five caused turnovers in a 21-3 rout of Alvernia on April 12.
Weger was the team’s starting long-stick midfielder in 2012 and has the versatility to play up top and down low on close defense. But Barber said Weger’s place is on close defense.
“I prefer to have James on the field as much as possible because I want to utilize his skill and his ability,” Barber said. “Him playing at LSM, he was on the field sparingly because he was rotating reps. Having him on close, I had him on the field close to 100 percent of the time. The reason we made the switch was because I wanted him on the field as much as possible.”