The Amherst College men's lacrosse team is set to return to the field in 2018 with an experienced squad that features 33 returners from a lineup that finished last season with a 13-5 overall ledger and advanced to the NCAA Division III Championship quarterfinals for the third consecutive season.
After registering an 8-2 record in the perennially tough NESCAC conference, Amherst earned a quarterfinal meeting with Middlebury College and was narrowly edged, 12-11 by its league rival in a thriller. Securing an at-large bid to the NCAA Championship and a First Round bye, the Mammoths posted a clutch win over Springfield, 14-11 in the Second Round before falling to Bates, 26-14.
Guided by head coach Jon Thompson, who enters his eighth season at the helm of the Mammoth program, Amherst continues to embrace the moniker "WIN THE NEXT" with a nothing more, nothing less attitude.
"We are excited to bring back great pieces right up the spine. We have competitive races at each and every position, and we are excited to see which of our guys steps into a role and gets comfortable being in a spotlight vacated by Killian and Albanese," commented Thompson. "We have one of the most dynamic attack groups in the country, and has been our custom; our transition midfield is tops nationally. We have a lot of two way middies who make it really challenging for our opponents, and really fun to play our brand of fast paced lacrosse."
Despite the loss of a talented class of eight student-athletes to graduation, Thompson remains confident in his core.
"In some ways we'll be young an inexperienced, and in some other important ways – we're bringing back a talented group of returners who have game experience," Thompson noted. "We try not to set expectations for ourselves, but our goals are certainly to be excellent in unsettled, and to improve our settled 6v6 defense and 6v6 offense. We feel like we've made good strides here this pre-season."
Amherst returns a potent one-two punch on the attack in 2018, with the Mammoths top point-getters from a season ago, Colin Minicus '20 and Evan Wolf '19 both back in the lineup. Minicus struck for 31 goals and dished out 42 helpers for 73 points, while Wolf followed with 39 markers and 17 assists to total 46 points.
Junior duo Trenton Shore and Jack Norton will also have opponents on alert, with the Norton racking up 40 points (35G, 5A) and Shore logging 21 points (12G, 9A) last spring. Sophomore Jon Coffey also will push for time.
2017 All-American Andrew Ford '19 and Brogan Mahon '19 headline the Mammoths' midfield patrol, with the juniors looking to build on a well-balanced 2017 campaign during which Ford notched 13 scores and picked up 28 ground balls and Mahon found the back of the net 21 times and assisted on 20 goals while also picking up 19 ground balls and causing four turnovers.
Adding depth to the midfield is Jimmy McAfee '20 who earned 47 ground ball pickups and a stellar 13 caused turnovers, while Max Keeley '18, Ian Kadish '18, Drew Kellaher '18, Matt Solberg '20, Jackson Herrick '20 and Jack Wolff '19 will also see contributing roles this year.
On the faceoff dot, Dylan Finazzo '20 will continue to be a force for Amherst, with Finazzo garnering Second Team All-NESCAC honors is a stellar debut season as one of the top faceoff men in the country. A game changer at the dot, Finazzo went 289-452 last season to own a 63.9 win percentage that ranked inside the top-10 nationally.
Anchoring the defensive unit for the Mammoths will be Zack Anderson '18, Peyton Lane '20 and Rod Castro '20, with Anderson having started 15 games a season ago as a staple on the backline and Lane aiming to continue the momentum of an impressive rookie debut. First-years Reid Shilling '21, James Crovatto '21 and Tamer Sullivan '21 will also compete for time.
In between the pipes, Chad Simons '20, Gib Versfeld '21, Cameron Mitchell '21 are set to battle to fill the void left by the graduation of Cody Tranbarger '17 who started 18 contests for the Mammoths last season.