NCAA Division II Notebook
When Limestone head coach J.B. Clarke is putting together his preseason scrimmages, it always starts with a competitive Division I program. Last year it was UMBC and the year before that it was North Carolina. This year it was a trip to Durham to face the Dookies, ranked No. 3 in Lacrosse Magazine's preseason rankings.
When his teams take the field against these programs, Clarke is looking at one thing.
"My biggest concern is: Do we compete or do we run away? I'm happy to report that we didn't run away," Clarke said.
With just four days of practice heading into the scrimmage with the Blue Devils, Clarke knew the Saints weren't anywhere near where they need to be when they travel to Tampa for a Friday night game on Feb. 15. Still, there was some cause for optimism, especially on the defensive end of the field that was decimated by graduation.
"We weren't very good, but I was pretty pleased. We didn't go offside one time, which is absolutely remarkable," laughed Clarke. "Defensively, we did some nice things as a unit and that surprised me. I thought we'd be way behind. We did our slide-and-recovers and cycle-arounds that looked pretty good."
Somewhat surprisingly for a team with Limestone's pedigree, Clarke believes he may be starting a freshman at one of the three close defender spots. Jake Wojtowicz, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound rookie out of New Jersey, will likely be the target of early-season opponents, but the Saints' staff believes he has the tools to acclimate quickly.
"He's a big, strong high school football and lacrosse player who doesn't look lost out there and he doesn't look overmatched athletically," Clarke said. "He's a smart player."
The goalie position, which was vacated by the graduation of Steve Gartelman, appears to be a two-horse race between freshman Patrick Sheridan (Fairport, N.Y.) and Christian Dzwilewski — "We just call him 'Ski,' said Clarke — a former starter for Providence who is getting his MBA at Limestone. It's a tight competition, but it's unlikely to be a platoon situation.
"I have not platooned in the past although I've threatened to in my own mind," Clarke said. "If I had a lefty and righty who were equal, I'd play one in one quarter the other in the second, but I've never gotten there. I think it will come down to who is playing better at the start and we'll go from there. We've got a couple of weeks to figure that out."
There are fewer unknowns among the midfield and attack units. Seniors Zach Cummings and Tor Reinholdt along with Reinholdt's freshman brother, Reid, are set on the first midfield while Riley Loewen and Corey Rich fill out two of the attack slots.
The third attack position is still up for discussion, but will likely be decided during this weekend's scrimmage with Washington & Lee. The matchup with the Generals is also part of Clarke's preseason strategy.
"I figured we'd go to Duke and play a lot of defense and then go to W&L and play more of a mix of offense and defense," he said.
- Dowling received its hardware for their national championship on Jan. 24. It was also the first day of practice for the Golden Lions...Clarke confirmed that Brandon Gamblin and P.J. White transferred to Limestone from NYIT. Both will be redshirted this season...the D-II season kicks off tomorrow (Wednesday) as Pfeiffer hosts Lees-McRae at 3 p.m. in a Conference Carolinas match-up. Last year, Pfeiffer rolled to a 19-1 victory...best game of the week is Friday night's Deep South clash between Florida Southern and Tampa. Even though it's only two years old, it's already a rivalry game.