By KATELYN MASSARELI
This Friday marks the beginning of the men’s lacrosse season as they take on the Jacksonville Dolphins, a Division I school. The team has high expectations, as they have four players that have been selected as Face Off Yearbook Preseason All-Americans.
The four players selected for this pre-season honor were senior attacker Conor Whipple, sophomore defender AJ Ferraro, senior defender Marty Heyn and sophomore attacker Andrew Kew. For Whipple, receiving this award was exciting, but he is more motivated for the potential honors he is hoping to receive at the end of his final season.
“I am exciting going into my final season,” Whipple said. “I am striving to be one of the best players I can be, as well as enjoy the process. Personally, I want to be the NCAA player of the year, and as a team goal we want to win a national championship. It is going to be difficult to do, but we are looking forward to the challenge.”
Whipple expressed his excitement for his fellow teammates who were also selected, and described how the honor raises the bar of expectations going into this season.
Looking forward to this season, Whipple anticipates their game later on this season against Limestone College to be a challenge on top of getting to the NCAA Tournament. Last Season, Limestone was the final game men’s lacrosse played in the NCAA Semifinals before the Spartans’ dreams were cut short with a close loss of 13-10.
“We can’t afford to look over any games this season,” Whipple said. “With only four team from the south that make the NCAA tournament we have to do our best to run the table.”
With the team fired up to make it further than before, the improvement and constant work is what they believe will give them the shot they need, according to junior offensive midfielder Sean Herdman. He went on to say that every practice has to be treated as a game and everyone, no matter if you’re a senior or a freshman, needs to be held accountable.
“We are a very fast, athletic team and have a lot of chemistry together,” Herdman said. “We need to keep grinding every practice and we’ll reach our goals.”
The team this year is made up of many new recruits and many returning veterans. The team has come together and made a great atmosphere this offseason, according to Whipple.
“It helps having several people on the team with the same maturing level and goals that they have set for themselves and the team,” Whipple said.
The beginning of men’s lacrosse regular season is soon to come and the team has an ambitious beginning with redemption on their mind, many goals to accomplish and different surprises up their sleeves.
“I am exciting to see what this year has to offer,” Whipple said. “I believe that there will be a lot of surprises within our team. We have a lot of good players, and I believe a few of them will have breakout seasons.”
The first home game takes place on Feb. 5 against Tusculum at 12 p.m. You can see a full schedule a tampaspartans.com.