BEREA, Ohio – After making the program's first appearance in the Ohio Athletic Conference Championship, the Baldwin Wallace University men's lacrosse team seeks a return to the championship game and its first tournament title in 2019.
Second-year head coach Trey Keeley returns 21 letterwinners and six All-OAC players from last year's team that posted an 11-5 overall record and a mark of 6-2 in the OAC before the program's first OAC Championship appearance. Keeley also adds eight new faces to round out the roster this spring.
"There is always optimism at the start of the new year but also some uncertainty," Keeley said. "The guys are definitely willing to step up. We've got a couple of the best players in the OAC but we need to figure out who this team is."
The Yellow Jacket offense will continue to run through one of the most potent scorers in the OAC, senior three-time All-OAC attack Chad Steinwachs (Buffalo, N.Y./Williamsville North). Last season, Steinwachs was among the conference leaders yet again with a team-high and school-record 42 goals, 45 assists and 87 points. In addition, he broke four other school records: single-game goals, single-game assists, career assists and career points.
Facilitating the offense alongside Steinwachs will be senior two-time All-OAC attack Mike Nanosky (Medina), senior attack Blake Bower (Lewis Center/Olentangy) and transfer junior attack Drew Braden (Wooster). One of last year's leading scorers that did not graduate, Nanosky posted numbers of 27 goals, 10 assists and 37 points, including a career-high seven man-up goals. Bower returns after a season away from the team and has eight goals, five assists and 13 points in his career as he looks for a high-powered senior year. Braden joins the Yellow Jackets from NCAA Division II Ohio Valley University where he netted 20-plus goals each season.
Senior attack Ethan Napieralski (Lancaster, N.Y.), junior attack Justin Presutti (Williamsville, N.Y./South), sophomore attack Ethan Miller (Delaware/Hayes) and sophomore attack James Brown (Canfield/Cardinal Mooney) provide more depth to the offense with a combined 30 goals, 12 assists and 42 points last season.
Offense will run even deeper into the midfield position with junior All-OAC and Academic All-OAC midfielder Ben Kubiak (Wooster). Kubiak had a standout sophomore season with career highs across the board: 21 goals, eight assists, 29 points, 24 ground balls and nine caused turnovers. Sophomore midfielder Nicholas Nanosky (Medina) will rack up the stats on both ends of the field after turning in a freshman campaign that saw five goals, five assists, 10 points, 26 faceoff victories, 16 ground balls and three caused turnovers.
Veteran experience in the midfield will come from senior Thomas Moesch (Ithaca, N.Y.) and junior Austin Routzong (Hilliard/Bradley). Moesch snagged a career-high 31 ground balls last season to finish sixth on the squad while Routzong tallied five ground balls and a career-best six caused turnovers.
Both junior midfielder Riley Mahon (Palatine, Ill./Williams Fremd) and sophomore midfielder Gage Schneider (Hamburg, N.Y.) had productive off-seasons which they will look to translate to the field this spring while freshman midfielders John Schulte (Grosse Pointe, Mich./South) and Skylar Bays (Granger, Ind./Marian) could turn some heads in their inaugural season.
At the long stick midfielder position, senior two-time All-OAC selection Cole McClary (Perrysburg) and senior Jake Mostyn (Columbus/Westerville Central) will step back to help secure the defense. McClary currently ranks fourth in career ground balls (132) and caused turnovers (49) and will look to climb even higher in his final year. Meanwhile, Mostyn appeared in all 16 games last year and finished fourth on the team with his career-high 37 ground balls.
Rounding out the midfielders are junior Matt Lowe (Mentor), junior Hunter Lute (North Canton), sophomore Carson Howatt (Dexter, Mich.), freshman Eric Bechtel (Westlake) and freshman Nolan Connelly (Rocky River).
Sophomores Keller Fisher (Rocky River) and Alexander Bishop (Avon Lake) will battle at the faceoff position for the Yellow Jackets. Fisher led the team with 81 faceoff victories and a .555 faceoff percentage while Bishop missed the entire season due to injury.
With five senior poles providing continuity, defense will be a hallmark for the Yellow Jackets again this season. Senior Intercollegiate Men's Lacrosse Coaches Association All-West Region defender Brian Jandzinski (Lancaster, N.Y./Central) has started all but one game in his career and will be tasked with guarding the opponents' best players. Senior Academic All-OAC defender Jacob Swank (Hilliard/Woodgrove) and senior defender Liam Oberst (Rochester, N.Y./Brighton) will also line up next to Jandzinski for their final season in Brown and Gold.
Coming off an All-OAC season that featured 13 ground balls and 10 caused turnovers in nine starts, sophomore defender Matthew Rodenhouse (Pittsford, N.Y./Mendon) will continue to gain experience and wisdom from his veteran teammates. Fellow sophomore defenders Bryce Moran (Medina) and David Arlington (Lockport, N.Y.) will also take the lessons learned from their freshman campaign and apply it to the field this season. Meanwhile, freshman defenders Evan Rambo (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mount Lebanon) and Clay Kolke (Medina) will also look to help tighten up the back line in their first season.
Although replacing two-time All-OAC goalkeeper Mike Dizonno will be difficult, the three returning goalies will provide fierce competition for time between the pipes. In over 100 minutes of action a season ago, senior Academic All-OAC goalkeeper Nate Karatas (Penfield, N.Y.), junior goalkeeper Connor Lalime (Buffalo, N.Y./Williamsville East) and sophomore goalkeeper Trent Davis (Ottawa Hills) combined for 21 saves, a 8.29 goals-against average and .596 save percentage. Freshman goalie Will Scurci (Mars, Pa.) will also battle for time in the net in his inaugural season.
Also returning to the team this year is Grayson Oglesbee (Marblehead/Danbury Elementary), who joined the Yellow Jackets in 2018 through the Team IMPACT organization. Team IMPACT is a national nonprofit organization that connects children facing serious and chronic illnesses with college athletic teams, forming life-long bonds and life-changing outcomes. Oglesbee will continue to attend practices, games, team dinners and events in his No. 14 jersey.
BW opens up the 2019 season on Saturday, Feb. 23, by hosting Grove City (Pa.) College at 1 p.m. inside George Finnie Stadium. OAC play opens up on Saturday, March 23, when the Yellow Jackets host Capital University.