PHILADELPHIA – The Saint Joseph's men's lacrosse team blogged throughout the 2013 fall season and preseason and and will continue throughout the 2014 season to keep fans up to date with current happenings on and off the field. Follow along here!

Entry 10 - Cameron Riley (04/17/14)
The past few weeks have been great! Two weeks ago, we earned our first top-20 win in program history against then-ranked #11 Bryant. Then we followed it up with our program's first ever win against Delaware last weekend. In both games, we came out with a lot of energy and showed great mental toughness and grit in the fourth quarter. Our defense has been playing very well, holding teams under ten points in eight out of the last nine games, while our offense continues to make plays when they have the ball. We now have two regular season games left, both against tough NEC opponents. This Saturday we host Sacred Heart on our senior day. Our seniors have given everything to this program the past four years and it’s great to see their hard work and leadership pay off. We plan to honor them Saturday with our tenth win and clinching first place in the NEC; attaining one of our season goals, hosting the NEC tournament.

Entry 9 - Mike Dougherty (04/04/14)
We are now heading into the final third of our regular season.  After a hard-fought loss to Drexel, we came together and won our third conference game at home against Mount St. Mary’s. Throughout the season, we’ve had a lot of players step up during crucial points. Great defense, skilled offense, and hard work at the faceoff X have all been major contributors to our success. With the final third of our regular season coming up, we are focusing on eliminating our mistakes while continuing to build on the success we have had. We understand the next few games are critical in achieving one of our team goals, which is advancing to the NEC playoffs.  

Since August, one of our team goals was to attain a winning record at home. This Saturday will be our third consecutive game on Hawk Hill and we will protect our turf. Our main emphasis for practice this week was to have great energy and a high level of focus as we approach our next NEC opponent, Bryant. Bryant is a talented team, so this week of preparation and our attention to detail have been extremely important. Go Hawks!

Entry 8 - Richard Gabelman (02/13/14)
The past few weeks, we have really been fine-tuning the offensive and defensive game plans. We were able to give a little preview of the upcoming season when we scrimmaged the Air Force Academy and Manhattan College. There were some great things and, as always, things we needed to improve on.  The following week, we took care of some of the things that needed fixing and had a great outing against Lafayette in our last pre-season scrimmage.  

Our focus now shifts towards our season opener against High Point.  The coaches and players are just chomping at the bit to start the regular season.  The energy and focus level has ramped up this week and we have had a great week of practice. We have worked incredibly hard for this and we are excited to see the results of our hard work. Go Hawks! 

Entry 7 - Joe McErlean (01/29/14)
Since arriving back on campus, the team has been eager to get the season going. Two weeks into the preseason we are at the halfway point before our season opener at High Point on February 15th. The coaching staff has us working diligently to be prepared both physically and mentally for the rigors of the season. Our practices have been themed every day with a quote or key word that embodies the qualities that reflect the goals of our team. After we condition or complete a particularly difficult drill we are quizzed in order to stay focused on the task at hand.

All of this preparation has everyone excited to start off our exhibition matches as we head into this weekend with scrimmages against Air Force and Manhattan. These games are very important for us to observe what we are doing well and what we will need to work on heading into the regular season. Regardless of the outcomes this weekend, it will be great to finally go against some different colored jerseys and scrap for the name on the front of ours.

Entry 6 - Jack Moran (01/17/14)
After a nice, relaxing Christmas break, we are finally back together as a group on Hawk Hill, hungrier than ever. It was great to be able to spend time with our families and friends at home, but I know that we’re all excited to be back and ready to get started.

We capped off our fall improvement season with our annual Crimson and Gray Christmas Party Scrimmage. The winning team had the privilege of enjoying a nice steak at our end of the year Christmas Party hosted by the Wrays, while the losing team would have to settle for sausage. After our team Pollyanna and a guest appearance from Santa Claus and one of his elves, we said our final goodbyes and finished out the semester on a strong note, eager to start the season.

We recently kicked off our 2014 season with a team dinner and a viewing of the newly released movie Lone Survivor on Wednesday night, followed by our two-mile and strength tests on Thursday. We will continue to practice and lift on a daily basis until our Crimson and Gray Scrimmage on January 25th. Following our inter-squad scrimmage, we will scrimmage Manhattan and Lafayette leading up to our regular season opener at High Point on Saturday, February 15th.

We are extremely excited to have joined the Northeast Conference and we are highly motivated and committed to leaving our mark right away. Collectively, we have gotten stronger, faster, and more fundamentally sound, and we cannot wait to start playing against a different color jersey. This is going to be a special year for the Saint Joseph's men's lacrosse team, and I am extremely proud of how hard everyone has worked thus far.

Entry 5 - Will Abbott (11/26/13)
As we head home for Thanksgiving break, the fall improvement is starting to come to an end. We have worked extremely hard on the field, in the weight room, and in the classroom. As Matthew Sarcona stated in the previous blog post, we have been lifting four times a week as well as conditioning and doing speed work at least two times a week. We have also been having skill sessions, and in the most recent weeks, we have been playing six on six to apply the different fundamentals and strategies we were working on in the earlier skill sessions. We have also been working on our stick skills by completing different wall routines that our coaches give us. It has been great to see the improvement we have made over the last six weeks.

With the semester coming to an end, we will be testing again during the last week of classes to see how much improvement we have actually made. Our testing consist of multiple exercises both in the weight room as well as on the turf. This will be a great way to measure the progress we have made going into winter break as we prepare for our season starting in January. We also have an inter-squad scrimmage, and the winning team of the scrimmage will eat steaks cooked by Coach Wray at his house during our annual Christmas Party. The losers will have to eat hot dogs and sausages. This is an event we look forward and it is a great way to come together before we head into winter break.

As a senior, this has been the most challenging fall improvement season I have experienced in my four years at SJU, and it makes me even that more excited for our inaugural season in the NEC. We are all stronger, faster, and more conditioned than we were at the start of the fall, and this fall improvement has prepared us well for what we will experience in the spring.

Entry 4 - Matt Sarcona (11/04/13)
We are now into the full swing of the fall improvement season in which our week looks a little different. Instead of having practice six days a week. we can only play in groups for two hours a week. We have split up into two different skill sessions that work on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. During these skill sessions, we have taken a holistic approach to learning and re-learning basic fundamentals and offensive and defensive strategies in order to be prepared for the spring. This time of year is always exciting because it is the time where we can individually focus on the areas we have to improve on and put in the extra work we have to do to get better.      

Along with the skill sessions, we have speed and conditioning sessions three times a week during our old practice time, as well as weight-room training four days a week. Speed and strength is an area that we are all motivated to improve in, and our progress in the weight room has already shown tremendously after just three weeks. Overall, I think our energy has been great during every session, and I believe this group is the most eager group to get better that we’ve had so far during my three years here.

Entry 3 - Charles Giunta (10/24/13)
This fall has been something that the freshman class, including myself, have been waiting on for a long time. Coach Wray brought us together in early June and discussed expectations for the fall and how this transition to college would be one of the most important as well as taxing, both physically and mentally, of our lives. Lacrosse started on the first day so that we were on practice with our first meeting as a team. The rest of that week, we went through a series of conditioning tests both in the classroom and on the track and turf. 

For me personally, the transition to college has been something i’ve been preparing for my whole life. In terms of lacrosse, I came in so excited and enthusiastic about this upcoming season. The whole coaching staff instills a blue collar mentality for the program and that is something that everyone in the program has embraced. Practices and games have been more up tempo than high school lacrosse, but the hard work that we have put in on and off the field has helped my transition with the speed of the game. 

Academically, the school has been great in providing help with all of our needs. As freshmen lacrosse players, we are required to complete a minimum of eight hours of study hall per week, and that has really helped with getting work done. Also, we meet twice a month with our academic advisor, Ken Krimmel, and he has been an enormous help to not just myself but to the whole team. I feel as though we have all of the tools to make the academic transition as painless as possible. 

All in all, the fall has been a great experience for me as a player, student, and person. I cannot wait to start the winter improvement season, let alone the regular season in which we will compete for the North Eastern Conference Championship.

Entry 2 - John Winchell (10/17/13)
The team has been working extremely hard so far this fall. The coaches have been harping on the fundamentals and key terminology on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball so we can get better as a group in this development period. We had a lot of energy the week leading up the HEADstrong Nick Colleluori Classic, which was our first competition against another opponent. We have been a part of this tournament for a few years now and even though we are competing to get better, coach emphasizes the true meaning of why we are playing. We are very fortunate to be playing at this level and coach wants to put in our minds that HEADstong goes far beyond the game of lacrosse.

After the weekend, the team thought we made great strides. The effort we put forth in both games was very high, which goes a long way to how this team can get better and continue to compete. Though we had some highlights, the team knows we have a long way to go before we reach our full potential. We want to build off of the success we have had thus far into the rest of the fall season and into our other scrimmage with The Hill Academy from Canada.

Entry 1 - Johnny Simanski (09/26/13)
Although summer break was great, I know I can speak for both the team and coaches in saying that it could not end soon enough. There have been a few changes over the past few months, which created a lot of excitement around the program this year, and we are thrilled to be a part of it.

One change is our realignment in our conference play from the CAA to the NEC. Another reason for the excitement was the additions to the new Sweeney Field Complex. Lastly, every year, it is always exciting to meet the new freshman, and this year we have a very talented and hungry group of 21 freshmen that have immediately bought into the Hawk Lacrosse way.

Since we have so many fresh faces on the team, we started off fall ball a little more hands on this year. and for the two weeks, we worked very hard in our split offensive and defensive skill sessions. During that time we also had been lifting three times a week and conditioning twice a week. However, we are now into our second week of fall ball practices in which we practice six times a week and lift three times a week. Although this is a lot of hard work, it is amazing to see how much we have improved in this brief month we have been on campus. We all know that the hard work and improvement will be greatly beneficial to us when we participate in our fall scrimmages at the HeadStrong Tournament where some of the best teams from around the country come to play at Ridley High School to help raise money for the HeadStrong Foundation.

In my four years that I have been a part of the SJU men’s lacrosse team, I have never been more excited for a year. Our young talent mixed with our upperclassmen leadership has everyone very excited for the upcoming year. Although we know it will take a lot of hard work and steady improvement, the expectations for Saint Joseph’s men's lacrosse this year and in the future will always be to make and win the NEC tournament and to advance to the NCAA tournament.