Optimism is high as 1st year head coach Jon Basti leads Sacred Heart in North East Conference (NEC) play. Basti was previously the top assistant under Peter Lawrence at Hartford. Jon also has been an Assistant at Sacred Heart and Fairfield. Basti, was also the Head Coach at Eastern Connecticut State from 2002-2004 where he led the team to two Little East conference titles and a pair of NCAA Tournament berths.
Joining the veteran coach is Tom Compitello, who was part of two Patriot League Championships as an assistant at Lehigh, Mark Miyashita who played five years in the National Lacrosse League as well as coaching for ten years in Colorado and Scott Bement who spent last year as an assistant at Hartford.
A well rounded coaching staff and strong senior leadership has the Pioneers excited to begin play on February 15th vs. Binghamton. The Pioneers are going to be more of an up-tempo team under Basti, which should lead to an exciting brand of lacrosse.
In addition to playing up tempo, Basti is instilling a strong work ethic in his players by having them be more accountable in the off season conditioning program as well as participation in community service. The emphasis all fall is molding everyone into being better teammates.
Sacred Heart returns a plethora of scoring in the senior attack trio of Quarterback Matt Gannon (7G, 37A) Lefty shooter Cody Marquis (27, 9) and crafty finisher Mike Mawdsley (26, 2). This unit has the chemistry to be one of the top units in the NEC. Gannon is a throwback player who likes to set the table for others, which will benefit the Pioneers young midfield. Basti is also confident in junior Ian Farley and freshman Jerome Rigor, who have played well in fall practice.
At Midfield, the coaching staff is excited about the competition coming out of the fall. Senior Alex Miller (4, 13) and Sophomore Alex Dodge (5, 2) anchor the unit. Dodge is a quick at getting his hands free from up top, while Miller is a proficient feeder in half field sets. Joining them on the top line will be freshman Brian Masi, who is a strong all- around player, who shoots well on the run.
On the second line junior Jimmy Eazor is a between the lines speedster, while sophomore Alec Dauses is a 6-4 inch 210 pound bull dodger who uses his size to create matchup nightmares. Freshman Bryce Jurk is expected to be the final midfielder on the second unit after being All New England his senior year at Trinity Pawling. As a group, Basti likes his midfields creativity and off-ball play.
Faceoff play will be much improved as Basti is one of the nation’s top faceoff coach with mentoring Charlotte Hound and 2x All American Tim Fallon at Hartford and NCAA statistical champion Cliff Lorenzo at SHU IN 2002. Junior Mark MacDonald and Sophomore Andrew Burnett will compete for the top spot at the faceoff X.
On Defense the team will be led by Seniors Andrew Newbold, Seth Richard and Jared Carrier. Newbold is the top cover guy and Long Stick Middie Tim Caton is charged with causing turnovers and sparking transition.
In the goal Junior Jon Flood (11.05 GAA, 51%) has to improve his Goals against Average and Save Percentage from a year ago. The junior has quick hands and is good at starting the fast break. His improvement as well the defense in front of him is key to improving from a 3-11 record a year ago.
Sacred Heart played in many close contests in 2013 (lost 2 games in OT) and that experience should pay off this season for the Pioneers, with strong senior leadership, a goal to make the NEC Playoffs and contend for the Automatic Qualifier is within reach for this senior laden squad.