WATERVILLE, Maine --- The Colby College men's lacrosse team members head into the 2012 season with heavy hearts when the Mules open the season at fifth-ranked Amherst College on Saturday at noon.
The entire Colby community suffered a great loss when junior midfielder Derrik Flahive died in a drowning accident in Chile in November. The Mules and Amherst are expected to have a moment of silence in memory of Flahive before Saturday's game. The game will be Webcast at https://www.amherst.edu/athletics/jeffcast
Second-year head coach Justin Domingos and the Mules won a Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) title for the first time since 1999 and finished with a 9-7 overall record. Colby has made three straight New England Small College Athletic Conference Championships after not making the tourney since 2002. The downer of the 2011 season was the same as 2010 --- an overtime quarterfinal loss in the NESCAC playoffs. The Mules came close the past two years to making the NESCAC Final Four, but lost 10-9 in the extra session at Middlebury College last year and 12-11 at Bowdoin College two years ago.
Finishing in the top four of the conference regular season standings secures a home quarterfinal game. That would be an advantage for the Mules, who are 19-3 on Bill Alfond Field over the past three seasons. All three losses have been by one goal in league contests.
The Mules return their top three scorers from a year ago in juniors Ian Deveau (Portsmouth, R.I.), John Jennings (Danvers, Mass.), and tri-captain Greg McKillop (Washington, D.C.). Deveau, an All-NESCAC second team selection last year and the conference's top rookie in 2010 from the midfield, led the Mules in scoring with 24 goals and 25 assists for 49 points. Jennings broke Colby's single-season goal scoring record with 43 goals and five assists for 48 points. McKillop was third in goal scoring with 16 and second in assists with 16 from his attack position.
Senior attacker Scott Margolis (New York, N.Y.) had seven goals and five assists, sophomore attacker James Wyse (Newton, Mass.) finished with seven goals and three assists, and senior tri-captain and midfielder Jonathan McIvor (Sudbury, Mass.) and senior midfielder Chris Barrand (Beverly, Mass.) each had five goals and one assist.
Junior attacker Keith Fairbrother (Madison, N.J.) also returns for the Mules. First-year players Chip Grossman (Charlottesville, Va.), John Grimaldi (Manchester, Mass.), and Mark Philipps (New York, N.Y.) will look to help out on attack.
While goal scoring is important, the Mules may have the hardest time replacing a player who had just one goal last year. Craig Bunker, the only three-time All-American in team history, dazzled opponents with his face-off and groundball abilities. Bunker, who was drafted by the Rochester Rattlers of Major League Lacrosse, won 71 percent of his face-offs last year and had 123 groundballs. Bunker was on the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association All-American First Team and was the USILA Specialty Player of the Year for NCAA Division III.
Junior midfielder Bjorn Knutson (Bloomington, Minn.) was a big part of Colby's face-off crew. He won 16 of his 24 attempts (.667) and was second on the Mules in groundballs with 59. Senior Eric Eberhart (Rye Beach, N.H.) was the only other face-off man on last year's team, winning 16 of his 27 tries (.593).
The Mules have plenty of depth in the midfield, including senior tri-captain Nick Hunnewell (Chestnut Hill, Mass.). Garth Franklin (Fayetteville, N.Y.), Buddy Reed (Woolwich, Maine), Trevor Shorb (Lincoln, Mass.), Phil Champoux (North Yarmouth, Maine), Brady Lenahan (Madison, Conn.), and Jed Rooney (Pelham Manor, N.Y.) all return in the midfield. Newcomers in the midfield include: Derek Youngman (Cohasset, Mass.), Whit Harwood Jr. (Short Hills, N.J.), Brendan McNeill (Needham, Mass.), Kushveer Jadeja (Chevy Chase, Md.), Nils Martin (Potomac, Md.), and Jonathan Eichholz (Melville, N.Y.).
Peter Reiley (Marblehead, Mass.) played all but 120 minutes in goal during his first season with the Mules. He finished third in the NESCAC in goals against average (7.59). Senior keeper Tyler Cash (Middleton, Mass.) returns, while Tyler Will (Woodbury, N.Y.) is a newcomer.
Junior Christian Kelso (Summit, N.J.) and sophomore Arya Mortazavi (Potomac, Md.) both started on defense a year ago and will be counted on for leadership in back. Junior Spike Smigelski (Mountain Lakes, N.Y.) and sophomores Ian Boldt (Millburn, N.J.) and Russ Wilson (Denver, Colo.) all saw quality playing time on defense last year. Peter Willauer (Duxbury, Mass.), Jeb Waters (Norwalk, Conn.), and Kyle Duca (Wayne, N.J.) are first-year defensemen.
The Mules' home opener is next Saturday against Hamilton College at noon (new time start).