February 25, 2011

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NYIT-Merrimack Game Has Make-Or-Break Potential

by Jac Coyne | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff | Coyne Archive | Twitter

NYIT senior Ryan Amengual has moved back to his natural position on attack after two years running midfield. The Bears meet Merrimack in a key non-conference game Saturday.

NYIT men's lacrosse coach Bill Dunn is so calm, it's almost unnerving.

Here he was on the cusp on the biggest game of the year -- a make-or-break contest against Merrimack on Saturday that will go a long way in determining who earns the NCAA Division II wild card -- and he meandered through the interview niceties as if he was heading into a scrimmage.

"I think we've had a pretty good preseason so far," Dunn said. "We've had quite a number of graduates from last year, but we're meshing together real nicely right now. We have some new guys at positions right now -- some might be transfers and some might be freshmen -- but we're very happy with our progress so far."

This is Dunn's second go-around as the head man for the Bears after taking over for Hall of Famer Jack Kaley last spring, so maybe he's just trying to get a hang of the interview thing.

Maybe.

It's more likely that Dunn, who was a long-time assistant under Kaley, is just playing possum.

Dunn loves his attack. Ryan Amengual, who has played the last two seasons at midfield, amassing 18 goals and 13 assists, has bumped back to attack where he'll combine with former Lehigh graduate Chris Lubin, who has a year of eligibility remaining.

"They seem to be meshing together really well," Dunn said of Amengual and Lubin.

Filling out the starting attack will likely be Cory Triola, a crease guy out of Levittown, N.Y., who has shown promise, although he has had some yips around the cage in the preseason.

"We have five scrimmages against five different teams, so they've had a lot of experience as far getting a little seasoning under their belt and playing with each other," Dunn said. "I think we run six solid middies right now, and we have a good defensive middie group. At this point of the season, we're ready to go."

The Bears meet a Merrimack squad they excelled against last spring. With NYIT out of the hunt and the Warriors still harboring hopes of grabbing an at-large bid behind Le Moyne, the Bears put it all together for a 6-4 win. The loss was just the second home setback in three years for Merrimack.

"We just went up there and played the way I thought we could all season, and it was a pretty tight ball game," Dunn said. "I was happy because it was probably the best overall game we played all season."

Now that Merrimack is traveling to the Island in what could amount to an elimination game, the stakes have been raised in this newfound rivalry. The Bears are the favorites -- NYIT is No. 5 and Merrimack No. 7 in the most recent USILA poll -- but sometimes it all boils down to a quiet confidence.

Just ask Bill Dunn.


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