The University of Detroit-Mercy men’s lacrosse team doesn’t play their first game until February 9 at Ohio State, but from the looks of it, the team is ready to go. While the metro Detroit area was getting hammered by the ice storm on Monday, the Titan squad was engaging in an up-tempo practice filled with the excitement and energy one would expect two weeks before a season opener.
The Titans were out on the field at Ultimate Soccer in Pontiac and were fast, focused and fired-up. It appeared that pushing the tempo in transition was stressed as well as making good decisions with the ball. Head Coach, Matt Holtz stood at midfield and studied his team’s execution to make sure that his players understood the goals for the practice and ultimately the entire season.
“This year we are working on controlling our turnovers. That’s been the biggest problem. We’ve been able to turn other teams over and get the ball but then we give it right back to them. We’re trying to control that end of the field. It will help us a lot if we possess the ball a little bit better”, Coach Holtz said.
The full-field, pre-practice scrimmage looked crisp and the players seemed to make good choices on the fast breaks.
The Titans are coming off of a disappointing 2012, where they finished 6-9 and had four losses by two goals or less. One of those losses was to Canisius, in the MAAC semi-finals. Earlier in the season, the Titans whipped Canisius on their home field, 17-12.
Holtz and company are looking for redemption. “I think we expect to win a conference championship. That’s the big step we need to take – we’re ready to take it. I think we have the players to do it. We need to be ready mentally every day, be prepared every day and get better every day.”
The MAAC is really up for grabs. Siena is the pre-season favorite and rightly so, they are returning 14 seniors and are looking to avenge their one goal loss to Canisius in the MAAC Championship.
The Golden Griffins of Canisius return 11 seniors and want to get back to the NCAA Tournament. Eventual champ, Loyola knocked them out in the first round, 17-5. And, Inside Lacrosse has Marist as the third rated team in the MAAC. U of D sits at fourth. Just the way attackman, Shayne Adams likes it, “We are picked fourth and I like sitting there. It makes everyone work harder – it gives everyone that push to want to get better. I think if we don’t come out with the MAAC Championship this year, it will be a disappointment.”
I asked Coach Holtz about the make-up of this year’s team and how it stacks up with the rest of the conference. “We got to the point where we are recruiting a specific type of player. It depends on the position, but we’re looking for athleticism more than anything else. That athleticism will help us, especially when we get into the conference games. A lot of the teams we play are more skilled than us, but I think that we’re more athletic than a lot of teams, so it will help us out in the long run.”
2013 MAAC Champions and an NCAA tournament berth - it has a nice ring to it.
The Titans kick off the season on February 9 at Ohio State and their home opener is on March 2 against Quinnipiac.
For complete schedule information, go to: http://www.detroittitans.com/index.aspx?path=mlax