Men’s lacrosse makes big strides in team identity


Jack Muscatello

The Quinnipiac men’s lacrosse team is off to its best start in seven seasons.

Zachary Carter, Staff Writer

Despite what you might have heard about some sports teams in Hamden, conference championships don’t grow on trees. For the Quinnipiac men’s lacrosse team, its members are going to have to put their heads down, block out the noise and grind for one. 

With the release of the 2023 MAAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll in early February, the Bobcats found themselves as reasonable underdogs, selected No. 6 out of the 10 teams in the conference. It is a fairly generous landing spot for a Quinnipiac team that finished with a 2-11 record just a season prior. 

However, the Bobcats have cooked up a recipe for success this season, with little to lose and everything to gain. Low expectations and a poor record in the previous year have given the team all the motivation necessary to surprise the league this spring. 

Head coach Mason Poli understands the importance of keeping continuity in his players’ mindsets. Prior to the beginning of the year, he and the rest of his coaching staff honed in on a few key aspects that they wished to perfect over the course of the season. 

“For us, we focus on our three F’s: we’re fast, fundamental and focused,” Poli said on Feb. 25. “You can’t have one without the other, they all have to work in unison.” 

And so far, that’s precisely what the team has done. Those “3 F’s” have proven to be a strong kickstarter – albeit in a small sample size – but the Bobcats have come out to a reasonably hot start to begin this year’s campaign. 

Through their first three games, some notable names have stuck out on both sides of the ball for the Bobcats. Junior midfielder Steven Germain leads the way in scoring with an impressive 10 goals, followed by senior attack John DeLucia and junior attack Dylan Donnery, who both tallied seven. Graduate student goaltender Nick DiMuccio has shined in net, recording 48 saves over three games, including a season-high 21 stops against No. 13 Brown on Feb. 18. 

An 21-12 trouncing of UMass Lowell in the season opener gave the team all the confidence it needed to take on No. 13 Brown in Providence, where it gutted out an impressive 11-10 win against the Bears to improve to 2-0. 

Two wins were all the Bobcats were able to scrape together in 2022, and yet they have now tied that mark in 2023, doing so in just their first two games of the season. 

With those wins already under their belts, the Bobcats turned their attention to the Bryant Bulldogs on Feb. 25. The result of the game was a 19-12 loss, but the Bobcats certainly did not let themselves walk away without learning some vital lessons. 

In Poli’s eyes, he finds the loss to be just as productive as a win. The Bulldogs attacked the Bobcats with a unique playstyle that featured a high-intensity pace of play, something that he felt his team didn’t see in its first two games. 

But it is a different style of play that he feels his team needs to familiarize itself with before conference matches begin in mid-March. 

“We want to test ourselves early and challenge ourselves early so that hopefully as the season goes on these kinds of things become easier,” Poli said. “We also want to see a couple of different looks.” 

Over the course of the spring, each team will come at the Bobcats with a different game plan, making it necessary that the team can recognize each look and adapt accordingly. 

Both Poli and his team understand the importance of the games early in the year, and how each game offers a new look. The coaching staff also recognizes that non-conference games at the beginning of the season can carry just as much weight as the higher-leverage games toward the end of the season. 

Working toward developing a shared identity is something that the men’s lacrosse team has put a lot of effort toward coming into the 2023 season. As the year progresses and the six-team conference tournament begins to creep up, this is a team that expects itself to be in a position to make a deep playoff run. The only way to do that, however, is to take it one game at a time. 

“We have got to keep improving because we need to be playing our best lacrosse at the end of April and beginning of May,” Poli said. “Regardless of the outcome, our goal every day is that we have got to get better as a group, and that is going to continue to be the message.”