YORK, Pa. – A new day has dawned on the York College (Pa.) men's lacrosse squad. With the appointment of Brandon Childs as the first full-time head coach in the history of the program, the Spartans have officially turned a corner. Introducing a personal yet professional philosophy along with a fast and tough style of play, the new Spartan mentor is excited for his first full season at the helm of the program.
"I am so excited to get started," Childs said. "Anytime you implement a new coach, there is going to be change and that is certainly the case here. Our hope is that the change brings a new energy and emotion to the way we compete."
Childs and the entire Spartan program have reason to be excited. Entering the year with a tremendous sense of optimism, the Green and White sport energized veterans to go along with the exuberance of quality newcomers.
"We have a great balance of upperclassmen and freshmen contributing," Childs continued. "We run two very experienced midfield lines and have a lot of new faces in both the front and back lines. I think this balance will provide us with the ability to be dynamic at times while maintaining our poise in the middle of the field."
Despite the departure of several outstanding offensive pieces from last season's 10-6 squad, the Spartans do sport a number of talented student-athletes in the attack to begin the year. James Langton returns after tallying the second-highest point total on the squad last year, notching 39 points on 27 goals and 12 assists. Justin Aita enters his sophomore season looking to build on a 14-goal, five-assist freshman year. Tyler Hutson and Tyler Davis join the Spartan fold for their respective rookie seasons as talented attackmen who will look to make an instant impact in 2012. Sophomore Adam Knox and newcomers Sterling Long and Tyler Bortner add solid depth to the Green and White attack.
"Our attack gets better every day," Childs noted. "We are really balanced with both right handed and left handed players and every time one of these guys touch it, we have a great chance to score."
Senior captain B.J. Blaker leads a talented and experienced core of midfielders. Blaker, an all-conference choice in 2010, tallied 21 goals and seven assists during the 2011 campaign and has been a consistent performer for the Green and White throughout his three previous seasons with the program. Fellow senior captain John Powell will look to be a significant contributor in 2012 both on and off the field while senior Nick Bach and sophomore Seth Krolus bring additional skill and understanding of the collegiate game. Jake Beneke and Corey Cooke combined for three goals and seven assists last season and each should become even better this year. Andrew Thomas, Marcus Coppola, and Tyler Roy are two-way players who should be able to make a difference throughout the year. Andrew Taylor, Blake Bing, Andrew Warburton, and Andrew Cataldo add depth the Spartan midfield.
At long-stick midfield, freshman Hogan Ross brings a significant physical presence – standing 6' 6" – and will look to be a major contributor in just his rookie season. Joshua Crego possesses solid collegiate experience while Nick Callahan will add depth to the LSM position.
"We have a lot of game experience in the midfield," Childs said. "In addition to their experience we feel as though our midfielders are athletic enough to push things in transition as well as create for us in the 6-on-6."
In faceoffs, Pat Wills has the early edge as York's top choice at the "X". Gaining experience last season, Wills has taken on the job as a specialty this season and will look to gain numerous valuable possessions for the Green and White. Cooke and Bing will also be options to win faceoffs for the Spartans throughout the year.
Faceoffs are about hard work and if that is any indication of how the season will be, I think we are in good shape," Childs said. "Pat was one of the hardest workers at his craft and has been better and better since I've been here."
Defense could be York's strongpoint this season. Sporting a quality group of defensemen, the Green and White will look to be very tough on the defensive end in 2012. Senior captain Patrick Glenn will be called upon to be a leader for the defense as they look to create a tight wall in front of the cage. Talented junior Justin Gordon is primed for a huge season after missing last year due to injury while Ryan Cassidy transfers into York after spending his first two collegiate campaigns at Eastern University. Cassidy was a strong defensive presence for the Eagles and will look to do the same for the Green and White. Dale Kowatch and Kevin Braun return to the Spartan squad for their sophomore seasons and add to the quality experience of the defensive unit. Freshman Tyler Fields, sophomore James Spillane, and sophomore Jack DiAgostino will look to add quality depth throughout the grueling collegiate lacrosse season.
"Our defense is smart, tough and communicates very well," Childs said. "There is no real superstar and that is the way we like it. We play six defending six and we rely on the team to defend and not any one individual. I love what this group brings to practice every day."
Goalkeeping should prove another exceptional area for the Green and White, bolstering an already strong defense. Tyler Powell, a 2011 All-CAC second-team selection, returns to man the pipes for the Spartans. Powell put together an excellent season last year as he posted a 9.55 goals against average and sported a .608 save percentage. Sophomore Joey Bellavia transfers into the Spartan program after spending his rookie campaign at Division II Florida Southern while Joe Patterson begins his freshman season with the Green and White looking to gain experience. Dylan Heath and David Puglisi add quality depth to the York goalkeeping unit.
"In the goal we have a great group of keepers," Childs said. "Any of them could see time and no matter who is in the cage, I know we are in good hands. We have a great starter and four guys pushing him every day. Perhaps what I love the most about this group is the bond they are forming with each other."
With such quality throughout the field, the Green and White embark on the season as an optimistic and energetic squad, sporting an excitement to see what this campaign holds.
"I have no idea what the 2012 season has in store and this early on, I can't even project any kind of an outcome," Childs concluded. "What I do know is that we are working hard and learning new aspects of the game and our team every day. This team should be better in April than it is in February. The more we work the better we get. So the outcome is really determined by the journey in year number one."
The Spartans begin their 2012 slate on Saturday, February 11, as they welcome Randolph-Macon to Kinsley Field for the season-opener. Game time in York is scheduled for 12:00 pm.
PHOTO: Members of the Spartan squad huddle up during a game last season - courtesy of Zach Clabaugh - www.sharpedgefoto.com