For years, McDaniel had the enviable comfort level of knowing that when the score was tight, the offense could turn to Gibbs Preston and then D.J. Rickels to take charge on attack.
With Rickels graduating after last season, a void opened on attack. Sophomore Pat Bivons (10 goals and seven assists) and senior Pat Woglom (13, 1) have tried to fill the role, but coach Matt Hatton said the team is still looking for that go-to leader.
“I don’t know if it’s necessary, but it’s nice to have someone behind the goal or goal-line extended that wants the ball in his stick in critical situations,” he said Thursday morning. “We had the luxury of having somebody like that for the last four years in D.J. Rickels. I think it doesn’t have to be attack-heavy for us to be successful offensively, but we do have to play our roles and know our roles for each of the six guys that are out there and do a better job executing. I do think we’re getting closer to that.”
The absence of a take-charge attackman was apparent in the Green Terror’s 5-4 loss to No. 8 Lynchburg Wednesday night. After the Hornets went up 5-4 with 2:30 left in the fourth quarter, McDaniel (2-5) took just two shots before turning the ball over with eight seconds remaining and eventually absorbing the loss.
“Last night, you like to feel pretty confident that you’re walking away with a win if you hold a team like that to five goals,” Hatton said. “Four goals isn’t going to cut it. We’ve got our work to do offensively and if the defense can give us the effort they gave us last night consistently, then I think we will find a way to come out on the winning end of some of these games.”
The silver lining in Wednesday’s setback was the play of Christian Dallmus. The junior goalkeeper finished with 15 saves and has racked up at least 10 saves in each of his last six starts.
Hatton said Dallmus, who has posted a 10.21 goals-against average and a .557 save percentage, has thrived after beating out freshmen Eric Ritchie and Corey Shaffer in the preseason.
“He’s been a great stopper, and we knew he had that capability to be that type of player for us,” Hatton said. “He played exceptional last night, and he’s been steady. For us to be successful, that’s a position where we need to be playing at that level. I still think the best lacrosse for Christian is in front of him, but he’s played great, and he’s given us the opportunity to be in a lot of these tight games.”