Spring 2017 men’s lacrosse preview

The Geneseo men’s lacrosse team is preparing to begin their 2017 campaign under new leadership. Nick Fiorentino, a native of Baldwinsville, N.Y., was announced as the program’s new head coach in November. 

Fiorentino’s resume includes coaching experience with some of the most successful programs in the country. After spending two seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Salisbury University, from 2009-10, Fiorentino then held positions on the staffs of Ohio Wesleyan from 2010-13, SUNY Cortland from 2014-15 and Rochester Institute of Technology in 2016. 

In these roles, he appeared in the NCAA Division III Tournament for seven straight seasons from 2009-15. 

This new opportunity with Geneseo will be Fiorentino’s first head coaching job. While he admits it will be challenging, it is an exciting opportunity that has been years in the making.

“If you talk to all the coaches in the country, they’re going to say every year is a challenge,” he said. “I’ve known for a long time that this is what I wanted to do. I have a strong passion and desire to be a head coach, so it’s exciting.”

Among the biggest influences on Fiorentino was Salisbury’s head coach, Jim Berkman, who is the NCAA’s all-time leader in men’s lacrosse victories. Fiorentino had the opportunity to both play for and coach alongside Berkman, and credits him as a role model in both lacrosse and life in general.

“The role that he played for me in my development set me up with the values and principles that I set my life to,” Fiorentino said. “His drive for excellence in life, not just on the lacrosse field, but as a person, helped mold me into the person I wanted to become when I was just starting as a coach.”

Fiorentino’s goals for the Knights include winning a SUNYAC championship, a feat that the program last achieved in 2007 under former head coach Jim Lyons. Fiorentino is no stranger to the SUNYAC conference, having won two titles as an assistant at Cortland.

The Knights have missed the playoffs for the past four straight seasons, but Fiorentino is determined to take the program back to the top of the SUNYAC conference. Geneseo is the only team other than Cortland to win a SUNYAC men’s lacrosse title, having won it three times compared to Cortland’s 24. 

“It’s there in our history. We want to get back there and be a prominent force in the SUNYAC,” he said.

As the team began practicing this month, Fiorentino noticed a strong sense of leadership in this year’s group of seniors, who are hoping to make their first career playoff appearances this season.

“[The seniors] had a big role in setting our goals,” he said. “This is a group of young men who haven’t played in the SUNYAC Tournament yet, so it’s a big deal for these seniors to get us back to the playoffs and competing for an automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament.”

While many of the team’s starters from last year will be returning, two notable senior departures stand out. Midfielder Joe Chiara finished his senior campaign tied for second on the team in points, and defenseman Matt Donoghue played in all of the Knights 13 games in 2016. 

While there may be some uncertainty regarding who the leaders will be on the defensive side, the offense certainly retains a number of experienced players. Junior attackman Ryan Kelly will look to expand upon on his performance last year, in which he scored a team-leading 22 goals.

Geneseo men’s lacrosse will kick off their season with an away game against Morrisville State on Wednesday March 1 at 4:30 p.m.