With Preseason All-American Gabe Kelley '11 as One of Five Team Captains, Men's Lax Looking for Return to Prominence in 2011
After finishing the 2010 campaign with three outstanding, down-to-the wire contests against the top two seeds in the NESCAC tournament, Wesleyan showed just how well it could play despite a final record of 8-8, the first time in 11 years the Cardinals fell short of a winning mark.
Face-Off Yearbook announced its preseason Division III All-Americans (for the complete list, click here), and Wesleyan has a third-teamer in stalwart long-pole middie Gabe Kelley '11 (#9, upper left photo), who was a USILA Division III honorable-mention All-American in 2010. Also on the preseason list is goaltender Mark Simmons '13, but Simmons will be taking the Spring, 2011, semester off at Wesleyan.
Sandwiched between a regular-season ending loss to Conn. College, 7-5, and an 11-10 setback to Tufts in the NESCAC semi-finals, was a 6-5 conquering of Conn. College in the first round of the 2010 NESCAC tournament. It was the first time in NESCAC tournament history in any sport that a #8 seed defeated a #1 seed. That sent the Cardinals to #2 Tufts for a semi-final meeting. Recovering from a four-goal deficit in the first quarter to eventually take a 10-9 lead with 2:59 remaining on a goal by Teddy Citrin '12, Wesleyan had the Jumbos reeling. But the host tied the count with 1:24 to go and netted the game-winner with just :24 left to escape with an 11-10 decision. Tufts went on to capture the NESCAC tournament title by downing Middlebury, 13-12, and didn't stop before winning an NCAA Division III crown with a 9-6 win over Salisbury in the title game.
The Cardinals look forward to their NESCAC schedule as Tufts is the preseason top-ranked team in Division III with Middlebury ranked eighth and Conn. College holding the 10th spot. Thus, Wesleyan has ample opportunity to leave its mark on the national picture, something the Cardinals have often done with four trips to the NCAAs between 2005 and 2009, including a pair of national semi-final appearances (2006 and 2007). For a PDF capsule of Wesleyan's accomplishments over the last 10 years, click here.
Wesleyan has a talented corps of 32 returning lettermen, led by the team's quint-captains of Kelley, attacker Conor Malangone '11 (#14 center photo), and middies John Froats '12 (#6, photo lower left), John Olbeter '11 (#40, but switching to #13, photo lower right) and Graham Gnall '11 (#24, photo upper right), joined by a solid crew of newcomers, to help find its way back into the national rankings. The Cardinals will take on Bowdoin and Middlebury as part of its March slate and has a rematch with Tufts in Medford on April 2. Seven of the squad's opening eight games are away from home this season, meaning the Cardinals will have to become road warriors to achieve their intentions. The team's home opener features Middlebury March 19. The season gets underway at Salve Regina Sat., March 5.
(photos courtesy of Tony Pratt P'10)