By Andrew Mannion, Staff Writer
Everything can change over seven years. In the years between 2015 and today, the Manhattan College men’s lacrosse team went from six straight losing seasons to winning the 2022 MAAC championship.
Seven years ago, Manhattan hired Drew Kelleher and John Odierna to be the head coach and assistant coach of the men’s lacrosse team respectively, replacing former Jaspers head coach, Steve Manitta. The coaches inherited a team that was just coming off of a 1-14 season, making it their 6th straight losing season back in 2015.
Brendan Krebs ‘22, a four-year starter as the Jasper goalie and recent graduate, noted the differences between what the team was when he first arrived to now.
“My expectations for the team were pretty high, especially coming from a high school where we were pretty good at lacrosse, so I was kind of ready for a pretty high level of competitiveness,” Krebs said. “That was definitely the tone that Coach (Odierna) set. However, I would say the culture wasn’t where it needed to be at the time during my freshman year. But now you see where it is now and how it is so strong.”
After now being promoted to head coach of the team, culture is certainly something that coach Odierna is very excited about going into this season.
“I think our culture is elite, I think our buy-in here is only compared to only a few other places. I think it’s really cool what we have, and having a great culture is so hard to do,” Odierna said. “It has taken us five years to get to this point and now (going into) year six or seven we’ve kind of seen it day to day and the results are starting to match it.”
“It’s cool to care” is a team motto Odierna remarked on. He described it as one of the biggest reasons for the turnaround of the program. It can encourage all members of the team, no matter what their role is or how big or small that role may be, to care about their job and contribute to the team.
“When we first got there during my first year, some of the older guys didn’t push us in practice,” said Sean Mackinney ‘22, a five-year attackman for the Jaspers. “But as we got older, there was more competition and more intense practices. We all pushed each other to get better.”
“The 2022 MAAC championship doesn’t help us win the 2023 MAAC championship,” Odierna said.
The Jaspers have certainly made a name for themselves after making the NCAA Tournament last year, pushing expectations for Jasper fans for this year.
“Every team is going to have a target on Manhattan and you’re going to be chasing the Jaspers. So you know, it’s a pretty cool opportunity. I said to our guys last week that we’re the first Manhattan team in 20 years that has an opportunity to defend a championship. So it’s a whole new approach and we’ve got to hold ourselves to a higher standard. We can’t be satisfied because we accomplished a goal last year,” Odierna said.
The Jaspers will look to repeat and build on their massive success from last season. The expectations will of course be high, but that doesn’t deter Sean Mackinney’s confidence in the Jaspers.