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New Faces Dot Field for M. Lacrosse

From a first impression, one might think that this years Harvard men’s lacrosse team would be hurting after losing four key players.

The Crimson is actually looking better than ever.

Last year’s biggest loss was the graduation of star goalie Jake McKenna, but the team is hopeful with its new goalie prospects of junior Craig Thomas, who red shirted last season, and freshman Evan O’Donnell.

“[Who to replace McKenna] is the most complex issue we have,” head coach Scott Anderson said. “This year we are asking the goalies to compete. We will play the one that develops the most quickly and who shows the most poise in the games.”

There is always uncertainty with a new goalie, as McKenna started all four years and didn’t allow for the development of a replacement, but everyone has high hopes for O’Donnell and Thomas.

“[Thomas] has been playing great,” said midfielder and tri-captain Doug Kocis. “If not better he is just as good as [McKenna] was. He is a goalie who has not been seen and he will be surprising a few people this year.”

But along with McKenna, the team has also had to deal with the void in their defense left by Spencer Stenmark ’04 and Hani Malone ’04.

“I guess the one big question mark this year is for our defense,” said attackman and tri-captain Mike McBride. “I think that was a big concern for our team early on in the year, but we have a lot of senior leadership and they have been the core for our defense.”

But in a strange stroke of fate, Stenmark and Malone were both out with injuries at the end of last year, forcing the team to rearrange and account for their absence at that time.

The biggest change to be made was moving senior and tri-captain Brian Wannop back to play close defense, a position that he will continue to play this year.

The other two new players that will be playing in the defensive spot are junior Josh Donohue and freshman Nick Lafiura.

Junior Tom Mikula is the only man left of the three starting defenders from last year, and his experience and talent at the position will be a huge asset to the team in helping the other three players to adjust.

“We want to let people develop in positions and Mikula is great,” Anderson said. “Last year was his first year playing defense and he made the transition in a week. We have two people with a lot of experience in Mikula and Wannop and everyone else feeds off of that.”

Anderson and the team are also extremely confident in the defensive lines, because of its two great short-stick midfielders, senior Zach Chandis and Kocis. Short-stick midfielders are unheard of in lacrosse, and will be a great asset for the team.

“We have two of the most talented short-stick middies in the nation,” Anderson said. “We have strengths in places that other people don’t have.”

But while the defense is looking incredibly strong considering its losses, the offense is looking powerful as well even with the loss of sophomore Greg Cohen. Last week, Cohen broke his arm and will be out of play for at least six weeks if not the whole season. Cohen was a huge asset last season, leading the team in scoring and assists last year.

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