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UB lacrosse team looks to take next step

lacrosse

The Buffalo men’s lacrosse team ended the 2014 season with a loss to Connecticut, 6-5. After taking a 4-1 lead over the Huskies, the Bulls surrendered four goals in the second half. Connecticut ultimately scored in overtime, eliminating Buffalo from the 2014 Pioneer Collegiate Lacrosse League playoffs.

The season was disappointing for head coach Ryan Crawford, but he said the season was something to build on.

“Last season, we failed to meet expectations,” Crawford said. “However, I think the one thing we did was allow our young players to improve, give them playing time, so that coming into this season, they’re ready to play.”

The Bulls open the 2015 season with a home game on Friday, March 6 against New Hampshire at Kunz Field. Buffalo had two games against Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech this weekend postponed due to weather.

The Bulls, who are a club team at the university, finished last season 7-7 overall and 1-4 in division play. Buffalo got off to a 3-0 start, but a mid-season swoon – losing six of its next eight games – resulted in the Bulls fighting for their playoffs lives in the final two games of the season.

The Bulls ultimately won their last two games and made it to the playoffs.

Crawford said that the midseason swoon was an important learning lesson for the team last season, and something the players will remember heading into this season.

“We weren’t playing good on offense or defense,” Crawford said. “There were some close games in there against Central Florida and Boston College, but we just couldn’t close it out. In the end, I believe we needed that because we needed that adversity. We don’t want to lose any games, but when we do, we want our players to look at it as a learning experience.”

Offensively, the Bulls will look toward a new leading scorer, thanks to the departure of Ryan Sans. As a senior last season, Sans led the team in goals (21) and total points (27).

Crawford said replacing Sans will be a team effort.

“First off, we can’t just replace Ryan Sans,” Crawford said. “He was a valuable member to the team last year, not just on our offense. Instead of looking for one player to step into that role, we’ll have to rely on multiple players to step up and produce offensively.”

The most likely candidate is sophomore midfielder Pete Flood. As a freshman last season, Flood finished second on team with 13 goals and fifth in points with 16. Crawford called him “a key piece” in the team’s offensive attack this season.

Along with Flood, the Bulls return four of their top six scorers, including sophomore midfielder Ben Ott and junior attacker Frank Leffier, creating a balanced offensive attack for next season.

“Bringing back our top two playmakers should be able to help us,” Crawford said. “In the midst of an offensive transition, Ben and Frank should be able to help create scoring opportunities, as well as get on the board themselves.”

Although the offense is a question mark going into the season, Crawford said that defense will be the most experienced part of the roster. With two defenders departed because of graduation, defenders Chris O’ Connell and Chris Siderakis will move into larger roles in their senior seasons.

“We have a veteran defense now, and that will be huge for us,” Crawford said. “This year, our defense will have to be our rock and allow our young offensive players to grow into their new positions.”

With a young offense and veteran defense, the Bulls are entering the season with high expectations for themselves.

“We’re coming into the season hoping to win the conference and get back to the national tournament,” Crawford said. “Once we get there, we’ll reevaluate, but our goal is to win our conference. We took the best team in our conference to OT, so there’s not a large gap there. We think with hard work and improvement, we’ll be there in the end. ”

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