2012 Men's Lacrosse Preview

Release Date:
March 8, 2012
The Office of Sports Information
(716) 649-7900 ext. 333

Hilbert College enters the 2012 men’s lacrosse season with many questions and as many holes to fill. The Hawks ended their inaugural 2011 season at 6-6 and will look to build on the experience they gained in the process. But the going will not be easy. Gone are three of the top five scorers from last season’s team as well as the starting goalie and several other top contributors.   Last year’s team MVP Ryan Wagner (Orchard Park, NY/Canisius/Mercyhurst), and the team’s MIP Adam McCulle (Angola, NY/Lake Shore) have been sidelined with injuries. Coach Schunke will be calling on veterans and new recruits alike to fill in the gaps.

Sophomore captain, Sean Purtill (Orchard Park, NY/Orchard Park) was ranked 22nd nationally in assist per game a year ago and will be counted on to lead the young Hawks. On attack, Purtill will be joined by junior Greg Zitnik (Blasdell, NY/Frontier) and newcomers Nick Cavalieri (West Seneca, NY/West Seneca West) and Elliott Russillio (Lancaster, NY/Lancaster), who will be counted on to spark the offense. 

At the midfield position, last year’s core-group of athletes return while they welcome rookies who bring considerable depth. Returning are senior Eric Russell (Hickory, NC/Iroquois)and juniors James Knapp (Lockport, NY/St. Mary’s of Lancaster) as well as Mike Cavanagh (Orchard Park, NY/Orchard Park), who the Hawks will count on to contribute more offensively and defensively this year. Also returning are sophomores Nick Kieffer (Lee Center, NY/Rome Free Academy), and Doug Takac (Elma, NY/Iroquois), who is coming off a season-ending injury last year. The veterans are joined by newcomers Rick Landahl (Lakeview, NY/Eden), Bill Moleins (Hainesport, NJ/Rancocas Valley), John Pingitore (West Seneca, NY/West Seneca West/Mercyhurst), and sophomore Austin Collett (Clifton Springs, NY/Midlakes/Alfred), who will add depth to the midfielding corps. If Anthony Marchitte (West Seneca, NY/West Seneca West/Buffalo State) is able to rebound from last year’s injury, he will add some much needed toughness to the midfield position.  

The Hawks' defense features several returning players. Sophomores Kyle Mackowiak (Buffalo, NY/Bishop Timon-St. Jude), and Sean Manning (West Seneca, NY/West Seneca West), as well as senior Justin Peterson (Batavia, NY/Batavia/GCC), junior Lucas Cellino (Lancaster, NY/Lancaster), and junior Paul Liedkie (Leroy, NY/Pavilion/Waynesburg) all return to try to shut down opponent scoring. They will be bolstered by newcomers Mustafa Choukeir (Fort Edward, NY/South Glens Falls), Roland Jimerson (Silver Creek, NY/Silver Creek), Nick Tuttle (Hamburg, NY/Frontier) and Jordan Fedun (Parksville, NY/Liberty) who will all push for playing time.

Anchoring the Hawk defense will be two freshmen goalies in William Wagner (Henrietta, NY /Rush-Henrietta) and Tyler Catalfano (Rochester, NY/Greece-Arcadia). While both have shown potential, neither has emerged as the starter and the competition is wide open going into the spring traditional season.

This season will mark the first for Hilbert as a member of the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC), and the young Hawks hope they can compete with the more established programs. How well the team does will depend on Coach Schunke’s ability to blend returning talent with the new recruits. “We will have to depend on our veterans to provide leadership and our new recruits to be ready to contribute right away. If we can bring them all together, we should be able to surprise some teams this year.”

The Hawks open their season at home in March against Penn State Abington (NEAC) and Mount Saint Vincent (3/10 and 3/11). They then host three conference opponents early in the season: Cazenovia and Cobleskill at the end of March before the Wells game (April 9). Sprinkled in are non-conference games at Alfred University (March 24), at La Roche (April 7) and at home against Thiel (April 11). The Hawks finish their season on the road with four straight NEAC games: Keuka (April 14), SUNYIT (April 22), Medaille (April 25) and Morrisville State (April 28).

Hilbert College, located in suburban Hamburg, N.Y., south of Buffalo, is a private four-year college founded in 1957 in the Catholic Franciscan tradition. With nearly 1,100 students, Hilbert is a dynamic Western New York college that offers career-focused majors, including one of the top criminal justice programs in the region, and more than 50 minors and concentrations. The college’s engaging, student-centered campus community offers numerous leadership, internship, and service learning opportunities from which students launch successful careers while making positive changes in their communities. The Hilbert Blueprint promotes a well-rounded student experience over four years – starting with the Foundations Seminar in the freshman year, followed by Sophomore Service, Junior Symposium, and culminating with the Senior Capstone. Hilbert has expanded its academic offerings with the college’s first graduate programs and new Accelerated Degree Programs geared to adult learners.