Men’s lacrosse confident in journey to SUNYACs

Sophomore foward/defensive-midfielder Jack Brunner runs up the field in search of an open teammate. This season seems promising for the Knights; they are more successful than recent years and hope to continue building off of this momentum. (Ash Dean/Photo Editor)

Geneseo men’s lacrosse earned an 11-8 away victory over SUNY Potsdam on Saturday April 15, improving to 8-3 overall and 2-1 in the SUNYAC conference.

Sophomore forwards Zachary DeBottis and Kyle Wanamaker led the offensive charge for the Knights, scoring three goals apiece. Junior midfielder Alex Leuze also added four points on one goal and three assists.

Geneseo found themselves up 10-4 early in the third quarter, but Potsdam cut the deficit to two with four straight goals. The hosts’ momentum and hopes to complete a comeback were quelled with a goal from Wanamaker to improve their lead to three with 1:02 remaining in the game.

“We knew coming in we needed to play well, and the guys definitely came out and executed,” head coach Nick Fiorentino said. “It was one of those games where we knew we had to focus on us and what we had to do to be successful. I was really proud of the guys and anytime you can get a win in the conference it’s huge.”

The Knights performed on the defensive side as well, with junior defender Ryan Cates finishing with six ground balls. Junior goalkeeper Michael Yehl had 17 saves in the contest, tying his highest save total of the season.

“We gave up a lot of shots, but I was able to see a bunch of them so it definitely helped the team out,” Yehl said. “Coming up with big saves and clearing the ball definitely gave us some transition game as well as some offensive momentum.”

Yehl has started every game in net this season and has recorded at least 10 saves in five of his last six games. Fiorentino recognizes the importance of having a solid presence in the cage.

“Mike [Yehl] comes with a year and a half of experience, and you can’t teach experience,” he said. “He’s playing well and he’s a leader out there for us, so we’re excited that we have that facet of our game going for us right now.”

Yehl has been the starter since he won the job during his freshman season, so it would take a lot for him to lose his spot. With four other goaltenders on the roster, however, he has a few extra reasons to stay at the top of his game. 

“I have four goalies behind me, which is a completely new experience for me,” Yehl said. “I’ve always been the only goalie or one of two goalies, so just having four guys behind me pushing me every day has made me a lot better of a player.”

The Knights now have eight wins on the season, the most the program has achieved since 2010 when the team won 10 games. With three games remaining to decide their playoff fate, Fiorentino said that the team is feeling good about their chances. 

“When you win ball games, you’re going to feel good,” he said. “We’re excited. One of the team goals was to get into the conference tournament and we’re close to capturing that goal.”

The Knights will need at least one more win over their final three games to be in contention for a spot in the SUNYAC Tournament. The team’s morale is high, but they know there is still more work to be done.

“We’re not a stagnant team—we strive every day to get better,” Yehl said. “So far this season, coming out with eight wins and two in the SUNYAC is giving us a lot of confidence going into our last three games.”

Geneseo men’s lacrosse will travel north to face SUNY Plattsburgh on Saturday April 22 at 1 p.m. They will then finish out the regular season with two home games against SUNY Brockport on Wednesday April 26 and SUNY Oneonta on April 29.