Accused Sacred Heart Trio Listed, But Inactive
by Chris R. Vaccaro | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online
Who will start opposite Sacred Heart's Zack Frank in Friday's season opener? Mum's the word from UMass coach Greg Cannella. "We'll let everybody find out when we play Friday," he said.
With a sex scandal marring most of its offseason, the Sacred Heart University lacrosse team is anxious to get the season started. When the Pioneers suit up against No. 17-ranked UMass Friday at home, they will be three men light.
Though Tim Sanders, Nicholas Travers and Zachari Triner are still listed on the team's roster, they will not play or present in uniform.
"They are still on the roster because they are permitted to practice with the team, pending the outcome of their legal proceedings," said Gene Gumbs, the senior associate athletic director in charge of sports communications at Sacred Heart. "Until that process is completed, they will not be appearing on the field in any competitions."
All three athletes were charged with conspiracy to commit sexual assault in November after Travers and Triner allegedly walked in on Sanders having consensual sex with a female student. According to a report from the Associated Press, alcohol was involved and the woman did not know the two other men had entered the room.
Less extreme than the Duke case that shocked the lacrosse world in 2006, Sacred Heart has been quiet about the situation. Though Gumbs made it clear that head coach Tom Mariano would not talk about the case, the coach did say, "we have plenty of guys who are out there who can play on Friday. We're just focused on Friday."
A call to Jayson Lambert, the head coach at Smithtown East High School where Travers played a year ago, was not returned.
On the field, the Pioneers are fresh in the faceoff circle, strong at attack and looking for consistency in goal with Evan Morgan, Tim Katz and Zack Frank, respectively. Morgan, who had 11 goals and 13 assists running with Sacred Heart's first midfield, did not take a faceoff last season. Katz returns as the team's leading scorer after netting 21 goals and seven assists a year ago. Frank emerged from a platoon and started 12 games in '09, twice topping the 20-save mark, including 27 saves in an 8-7, five-overtime win over Villanova.
UMass is young in multiple areas of the field too, especially in goal, where Doc Schneider will be missed. With his departure, many wonder if he was the best goalie ever to guard the pipes for the Minutemen. The "best" is a tough title to bestow when others like Sal LoCascio, Tom LoPresti and John Kasselakis have played for the program.
"Those guys set a standard and pushed the bar higher," UMass head coach Greg Cannella said. "You never want to compare those guys to Doc or any of those other guys. We had some really good goalies here.
“Doc meant a lot in terms of leadership and energy on our team. He was consistent and worked so hard. He ranks up there with the best of them. We’ve had few goalies that have been that type of leader.”
Schneider is carrying that mentality on the sidelines now as an assistant coach with the Minutemen.
With Schneider off the field, it leaves Cannella with the chore of choosing between Tim McCormack and Steve Mahle to start in net. McCormack is a sophomore who had an outstanding high school career at Long beach on Long Island, playing four years and ending his career as Nassau County’s top goalie in 2008. Mahle is a freshman, who played at West Genesee.
So, who will get the start in the season opener?
“We’ll let everybody find out when we play in Friday,” said Cannella, who informed his goalies of the decision earlier in the week. “They’re similar type goalies. Both were much bigger kids who lost weight and are good leaders in and out of the goal. It was a hard decision for us and will affect both of them in drastic terms. You hope both guys can maintain their intensity and leadership qualities regardless of the situation.”
The Pioneers and Minutemen square off at 3 p.m.