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Guest Post From Boston College’s Stephen Ryan

1 - Published April 4, 2009 by in College

Editor’s note: Stephen Ryan is a freshman Middie from West, Islip, NY.  We caught up with him to get his take on the Eagles season as they compete for the PCLL crown and a birth at Nationals.

Boston College: Soaring to Denver

 By Stephen Ryan

Goalie Rob Ventura works on his top-five national save percentageThe sport of lacrosse has certainly avoided the trade wind currents that sweep storms from west to east. Instead, lax currents have brushed popularity in the opposite direction, as more and more schools from the West have invested in the pastime by creating teams. A sport that has traditionally been dominated by pioneer regions on the East Coast, it is interesting to see that lacrosse at the club level is controlled by the other half of the country. Undeniably an indication as to how far the sport has grown, the current MCLA rankings reveal that 9 of the top 10 teams take the field west of the Mississippi.

Even more strikingly, since its establishment in 1997 every MCLA Championship Game has featured two competitors from the West. It is easy to see, then, why top northeast headliner Boston College (#11) is playing with a chip on its shoulder in an effort to bring the MCLA trophy to the sport’s capital region for the first time.

The BC Eagles are the defending champions of the PCLL and have also won three of the past six division championships. Nothing less is expected this year, as a repeat is eagerly anticipated by the squad. In addition, the Eagles feel they have something to prove, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Many doubted the Eagles concerning this area at the commencement of the season, due to the departure of all three starting long-poles and goalie standout T.R. Hoffman from a year ago. But captain Mark Pohlman and fellow senior Mike O’ Sullivan have stepped into leadership roles alongside 6’5” newcomer Kevin Wright – providing for a less notorious but perhaps equally resistant defensive front. And Soph Rob Ventura has filled the stud’s shoes in goal, establishing his own name by posting a top five national save percentage.

Senior captain Matty Johnson rips a shot after a one-on-one against Colorado StateAt the faceoff circle, LSM Justin Katchis has dominated opponents, often creating fast breaks right off the whistle – his assist total can serve as worthy evidence of this. The depth at midfield is what holds the team together, utilizing a trio of even lines that can be interchanged comfortably. Led by the two-headed monster of speedy Tom Luckey and Brandon Jacobs-esque Matty Johnson, the midfield is quick to score off of iso’s from anywhere. Finally, BC’s top point leaders reside on the other side of the restraining line. Captain Ryan O’Neil has the vision of a hawk, often collecting assists (17 on the season) as he dishes to talented sophomore finisher Christian Falco (18 goals on the season).

The Eagles have started their league season on the right foot once again, defeating UConn and BU decisively in its first two contests. They are unquestionably the favorite to repeat and claim an automatic bid to nationals again, but still they cannot overlook the remaining league schedule. The team’s main competition concerning league play remains the 3-1 Northeastern Huskies, who will travel across Bean-town on April 24 for a season finale that could determine national tournament berth. But if they continue to play with the tenacity they are currently exemplifying, BC will have little trouble reserving a spot in Denver this May.

LSM Faceoff man Justin Katchis attempts to create a fast break off the whistle.The concerns for the Eagles surround national play. Last year, the Eagles made an early exit from the tournament after losing to BYU in the first round – not a good step towards trying to represent the East. But a new season brings new opportunities, and this year BC established its dominance down the coast after man-handling both Georgia and Florida in early February. Just two weeks after coming off the high, though, a trip out to Colorado resulted in a pair of nail-biting losses to CU and CSU – including one in overtime.

The Eagles get one more chance to send a national message before the big dance, as they host Central Michigan and undefeated sleeper Illinois this upcoming weekend. Favorable results would put the Eagles at 6-2 for the season, a great position to be in heading into the final stretch. The maroon and gold are working hard to join the ranks of other Boston greats: the Celtics, Patriots, and Red Sox have all won championships in the past few years, and BC feels like it is finally their time to represent the city and grab a spot next to them at the top. The Eagles can only hope that the MCLA trophy makes its way from Michigan to Bean-town, getting caught up in the wind currents as lacrosse dominance returns to its pioneer region.
Follow the Eagles lacrosse program at www.bceagleslacrosse.com.

The Eagles traveled to the Rockies last month to take on CSU and CU. Their goal is to return for nationals.