LANCASTER, Pa. – Two days before its season opener, the Ursinus College men's lacrosse team was picked fourth in the Centennial Conference preseason poll.
Last year's runner-up Franklin & Marshall is the favorite of the league's head coaches, accruing seven first-place votes and 63 points to top the poll. Runner-up Gettysburg earned the other two first-place votes and 57 points, while Dickinson was third with 51 points.
Ursinus rounded out the projected playoff field and was followed by Swarthmore and Washington College (34) in a tie for fifth, Haverford (24), McDaniel (14), and Muhlenberg (9).
Ursinus brings its top six scorers – including a pair of preseason All-Americans in senior Gerard Brown and junior Peter DeSimone – from a squad that finished 9-5 overall and 4-4 in Centennial Conference play, narrowly missing the postseason after a pair of overtime losses in its last three games.
Brown scored 17 goals and ranked second in the league with 28 assists last season, giving him 82 for his career and putting him within 20 of the school mark. A two-time first team All-CC selection who earned honorable mention All-America laurels a year ago, Brown is also in range of the all-time points record, needing 52 to match Anthony Tori '07.
DeSimone led the Bears and ranked fourth in the CC with 38 goals – one shy of the single-season program record – to earn second team all-conference honors for the second straight season. He enters the 2018 campaign just ten points from 100 for his career.
Sophomore Bobby McClure is coming off a sensational rookie season in which he ranked second on the team in both goals (24) and assists (22, 5th CC), while seniors Ian Desenberg (23 goals, 6 assists) and Lou Harrison (19 goals, 9 assists) and sophomore Reagan Ketchum (13 goals, 5 assists) help to make the Bears' offense one of the conference's most dangerous.
Sophomores Nolan Sachs and Noah Frantz are back to anchor the defense after combining for 66 ground balls and 23 caused turnovers in 2017. Junior Brian Casey won 117 faceoffs last season, the fifth-highest total in Ursinus history.
The Bears also bring back a pair of goaltenders with starting experience in juniors Elliot Shevitz and Nick Kirk. Shevitz recorded 114 saves and a .523 save percentage in 11 starts, while Kirk was 3-1 with a .590 save percentage over five appearances (three starts).
Head coach Jamie Steele and company also hope to benefit from a promising crop of newcomers as nine freshmen join the fold.
The Bears have games against No. 6 Cortland No. 7 Cabrini in a difficult non-conference slate to prepare for a loaded Centennial field that includes three nationally ranked squads in Dickinson (No. 13), Gettysburg (No. 14), and Franklin & Marshall (No. 15), all of which return the vast majority of their main contributors.
The men's lacrosse team opens the new campaign at Frostburg State on Saturday.