By Lauren Raziano, Multimedia Editor
After defeating St. John’s University 9-5, the reigning MAAC champions achieved their first win on Feb. 11th. This victory came with something special as this was the first win for the Jaspers under head coach John Odierna.
Graduate student Liam McDonough achieved MAAC Lacrosse Face-off Player of the Week Honors after winning 12-of-15 in faceoffs. McDonough also tallied nine ground balls to lead the team.
“I was definitely honored to get that award,” McDonough said. “I mean, our wing guys really helped me out there and coach [Kubikowski] drawing up the game plan, our assistant coach drew up the plan for the win. It’s really not just me, it’s three v. three positions. There’s two other guys flying alongside so it was really a unit win and it’s really good to start off the season like that.”
This is McDonough’s first season with the Jaspers as he transferred from UMass Lowell as a graduate student.
“It’s great being in this new environment,” The culture is really strong,” McDonough said. “We’re a really tight-knit group of guys. We all have a lot of trust in the coaches and we all get along with each other. So that makes it really easy to be here and I’m just very excited to be there.
Other game moments included Kyle Gucwa making four goals and Liam Walshe making three goals, with Tadhg O’Riodan and Dan Mackinney both achieving one goal. Quinn Bowler had two assists and goalie Joseph Persico had 14 saves. In total, Manhattan had 20 turnovers compared to St. John University’s 15.
The Manhattan Lacrosse Instagram account, @manhattan_lacrosse, posted a video of their post-game celebration with the caption, “Club Jasper was ELECTRIC after today’s win and Coach Odierna’s first win as Head Coach”
“To be honest, I was very surprised by that and I was in the midst of all of the fanfare and what it took to put that game together in a neutral site,” Odierna said. “I kind of forgot that it was my first game as a head coach. We actually talked a lot about it being their coach’s [Justin Turri, head coach of the St. John’s Lacrosse program] first game as the head coach.”
The video was shared in collaboration with @insidelacrosse on Instagram, promoting the video to over 8,000 views and 49 comments congratulating Coach Odierna on his first win.
“I remember we were walking in and I was talking to our other coaches about the things we want to touch, here is who played well, and then when I entered the room, all of a sudden the guys were there to dump water all over me,” Odierna said. “So I will say it was a very fun surprise and I think everything you saw was a pretty raw unplanned reaction. I think those make for the best moments.”
GoJaspers used the phrase “Odierna Era” to describe the season ahead.
“It’s funny that they call it that, I don’t really look at it like that only because I’ve been here for so long because this is year eight for me,” Odierna said. “I’m just looking to extend a lot of the progress that we’ve made over the last few years with Coach Kelleher. It’s just exciting to still be here and work with a really awesome group and I said it after the game I definitely don’t need it to be about me, I enjoy coaching our group and seeing what we can accomplish this year.”
The Jaspers then played against the Naval Academy on Feb. 18., winning 6-5. They had lost their last season matchup scoring at 6-9. On Feb. 21. The team will play at Princeton, with their last matchup occurring on Feb 14., 2015, with Manhattan losing 4-14. Both of these games are out-of-conference games but a good chance for the Jaspers to assess their competitiveness.
“We try to take it one game at a time,” Odierna said prior to the Navy game. “So, we have the Navy game first, but obviously an eye towards Princeton. When we scheduled these, it was an opportunity to see where we stack up against the best teams in the country and with two very historic programs in the landscape of lacrosse. I wanted to give our guys an opportunity to compete at the highest level of division one lacrosse.”
Odierna is ready to have the Jaspers represent the MAAC conference in the NCAA tournament.
“Our goal is to win the MAAC and represent the MAAC in the NCAA tournament,” Odierna said. “Our hope is that our team is comfortable playing teams at the level that we might see in May.”
McDonough is ready to have his first chance to compete in the MAAC championship.
“We’re definitely trying to get back the MAAC championship and win it,” McDonough said. “I wasn’t there last year so it’s all new for me. What I’ve been seeing is that the only thing we’re really talking about is getting back to the MAAC championship and winning it and getting to the NCAA tournament. Obviously, we just have to take it week by week and try to build every week to get better than the last game we just played.”
The Jaspers have been present in the MAAC championship for the past two seasons and want to establish their place in the MAAC every year.
“Last year wasn’t a one-time deal, this is just the target for our program,” Odierna said. “Even two years ago, we were in the championship game, but we lost. We’ve been in the last two championship games and I think we’re trying to establish that we expect to be there every year. There’s a lot of really good teams and really good coaches in the MAAC and we’ve got to put ourselves in a spot to compete for a championship again.”