InsideLacrosse.com Previews No. 37 Bellarmine
Courtesy of InsideLacrosse.com
For most teams, fall ball is about getting things started, building towards new goals, adding systems and players that will help you succeed in the coming season.
At Bellarmine, the progress of the fall was shrouded by loss. On Oct. 9, 2010, coach Jack McGetrick, the man who founded the Knights men’s lacrosse program in 2004, succumbed to his long battle with cancer. McGetrick was just 60 years old.
“He was much sicker than he ever let on,” says Bart Sullivan, an assistant under McGetrick who now bears the title of interim head coach. “He just wanted to go to work every day and wouldn’t let people tell him that he was sick; he just wanted to get his job done.”
McGetrick’s battle provided an emblematic example of courage and determination for his young team. Despite fighting the disease for nearly two years and undergoing extensive chemotherapy, he never missed a game or a practice.
“It didn’t seem to slow him down a bit,” says junior middie Trevor Timmerberg. “We tried not to bring it up a whole lot, but when we were lifting a little bit, he was like, ‘Man, I’m just worried about this cancer messing with my bench press max.’”
“I think the guys took on his persona when they were faced with the adversity of his passing,” Sullivan says. “They knew what coach would have wanted them to do…We’re not going to sit here and feel sorry for ourselves; we’re going to get the job done.”
Trying to get that job done may serve as an audition for Sullivan, who would gladly take the interim tag off of his title and assume the top spot permanently. Currently the university plans to allow Sullivan to coach through this season, along with assistant coach Bill Gleason, but then conduct an open coaching search at the conclusion of the spring, Sullivan said, with the goal of having the new hire announced by June 1.
“All I know is I’ve got this season to try to do our best,” Sullivan says.
Recapturing the success of last year may be a difficult task for the Knights in 2011. Riding the continuity of an offense that boasted five seniors in 2010, Bellarmine enjoyed a 9-6 record, its second winning record in the program’s six-year history.
“We lost our top five scorers, but we had a lot of guys who were good offensively who just weren’t playing,” Sullivan says. “Skillwise and talentwise there’s plenty of it, it’s just a matter for us as coaches of finding the right combinations and putting them on the right spots on the field.”
One way to make the most of inexperience is to rely on depth. Last year Bellarmine entered games with eight or more defenders ready to see the field, a tactic they will apply to both sides of the ball this year.
“We want to have as many guys as we can practice all week assuming they are going to be playing, and actually are going to play,” Sullivan says. “We want to play the most guys that we possibly can.”
Starting at the back end, the Knights are looking at an open goalie competition between returning senior Scott Bowles (46.9% saves in 2010), junior Dillon Ward (52.1%) and walk-on sophomore Will Haas.
“All three have different strengths, and all three have a different weakness,” Sullivan says. “It’s just going to be a matter of which one of the three can improve their weakness the quickest will be the starter on opening day.”
Austin Powell, a junior from California, leads a defensive group that will benefit from the experience fostered by utilizing so many players at that end of last year. Sullivan hopes to utilize the sharp stick skills of his defense to bolster transition. Powell will likely be bumped to LSM, slowing down strong middies and hopefully leading the charge back up the field.
The midfield returns the most experience for the Knights’ offense. Timmerberg (7G, 6A in ’10) and fellow sophomore Colton Clark (3G, 1A) will lead a unit decimated by graduation.
Timmerberg, a rare recruit from Overland Park, Kan., possesses the raw athleticism to excel in any situation as a middie. He can be used on offense, defense, either specialty team, and on face-off wings. The British Columbia native Clark, one of nine Canadians representing four different provinces, had an impressive fall. “We’re looking for a lot out of him this year,” Sullivan says.
The Knights lack of on-field experience in 2011 is countered strongly by the perspective and determination forged by the galvanizing loss of their former coach.
“We’re probably in the best spot we’ve ever been at, at least in the three years I’ve been here,” Timmerberg said. “We’re going to bring it and make everyone else deal with us.”