SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Head coach Mike Pressler is pleased to announce the 2012 Bryant University men's lacrosse schedule, a slate that features seven home games as the Bulldogs enter their second year of full Division I membership and postseason eligibility.
The Bulldogs will take on teams from seven different leagues throughout the 2012 campaign from conferences ranging from the BIG EAST to the Ivy League, the America East and others, playing top-level teams from around the nation as Pressler and his squad continue to build the Bryant name as an elite program at the Division I level.
The Bulldogs will play a 16-game schedule for the second-straight season and look to qualify for their second Northeast Conference Tournament and first at-large berth into the NCAA tournament.
"Sixteen games is a lot of lacrosse for any Division I team in any season," said Pressler, now in his sixth season at the helm, "but our philosophy as we move forward in the Division I world is that more games equals more experience for every player in our program. That was one of our objectives in putting this challenging schedule together, and I believe we have achieved that goal."
The Bulldogs will spend nearly half their season on friendly turf, though, hosting seven contests against teams from four conferences. The home slate features the return of familiar opponents such as Vermont, Stony Brook and a trio of NEC foes, but will also welcome newer rivals to Smithfield, as CAA members St. Joseph's (Feb. 18) and Drexel (March 10) visit the Bryant Turf Complex for the first time in 2012.
Bryant will open the season on the road in Hamilton, N.Y., though, where it will take on first-time opponent Colgate of the Patriot League on Feb. 11. The game is one of two trips to the Empire State, as the Bulldogs start another new series on the road March 17 against the University at Albany.
The Great Danes represent one of three contests against the America East and the only one away from home. The Black and Gold will host America East members Vermont (March 3) and Stony Brook (March 24) in the early half of the season.
A Feb. 25 road game against Fairfield (ECAC) and a March 27 trip to nearby Providence College (BIG EAST) round out the schedule's first eight games, and Bryant kicks off the second-half slate with the opening of Northeast Conference play, as Sacred Heart visits Smithfield on March 31.
From there, the Bulldogs face the first of two Ivy League foes on the road in arguably the program's biggest rivalry, an April 3 night game against Brown in Providence, R.I. Bryant will then return home to host last year's NEC champ Mount St. Mary's (April 7) before a three-game road stand that will take the Black and Gold to visit Holy Cross (April 10), Quinnipiac (April 14) and Yale (April 20).
Bryant will wrap up NEC and regular-season play in the final days of April, hosting Wagner on April 22 before trekking to western Pennsylvania for the April 28 finale against Robert Morris.
"We've loaded up our spring schedule with some familiar rivals as well as newcomers Colgate and Albany," said Pressler. "We are pleased to play teams from so many different conferences, from the America East to the Patriot League to the CAA, the ECAC, the Ivy League, the BIG EAST and, of course, the NEC.
"The addition of these teams really upgrades our non-conference résumé, and with each year, the NEC gets closer to having an AQ for the Division I NCAA tournament," he added. " The 2012 season is the final year of our conference's waiting period before we become fully NCAA Division I eligible."
The Northeast Conference will sponsor men's lacrosse for the second season in 2012 and host its second postseason league tournament May 4-6. The NEC will not receive an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament until the 2013 season, but Bryant will be eligible to play for an at-large tournament berth.
And the NCAA tournament is the goal for the 2012 edition of the Black and Gold, who are stronger than ever after welcoming 15 new members and returning an experienced core of veterans to the roster.
The Bulldogs will also have a quintet of able leaders on their journey, as seniors Rob Maiorano (Easton, Conn.), Jameson Love (Darien, Conn.) and Max Weisenberg (Long Beach, N.Y.) are joined by juniors Peter McMahon (Wilton, Conn.) and Nils Thompson (Ponoka, Alberta) as captains in 2012, elected as such by the votes of their teammates.
"I can't remember a vote that was ever this close in my 29 years of college coaching," said Pressler. "Only a couple of votes separated some of these young men, so we decided in fairness to the team and these individuals to go with five captains for the 2012 season.
"It is my true pleasure to introduce all five of these men to the public," he continued. "Once again, the Bulldog leadership is in terrific hands. I am eagerly looking forward to working with these five individuals on the field and in the locker room."
One of two repeat captains in 2012, senior goalie Jameson Love has started every game since arriving on campus as a rookie. The team's most vocal leader, he has posted some of the nation's top numbers between the pipes over the last three years. In 2011, Love played all but 20 minutes in goal and posted an 8.70 goals against average with 144 saves. An all-conference second teamer and two-time NEC Defensive Player of the Week a year ago, Love caused seven turnovers and picked up 47 ground balls.
"Jameson Love has started 49-straight games at the Division I level in the last three years," said Pressler. "His emotion, spirit and dedication drives this team on a daily basis."
The other two-year captain, longstick middie Rob Maiorano, appeared in all 17 games last season after coming back from an injury that ended his 2010 campaign in the season opener. A true leader in every sense of the word, the Naval Academy transfer picked up 16 ground balls and caused four turnovers while scoring a goal in 2011, his third season with the Bulldogs.
"There is nobody tougher in our program than old number 33," said Pressler. "Another two-time captain and a basically unanimous choice by his teammates, Rob represents what it truly means to be an outstanding student-athlete at Bryant University."
Standout midfielder Max Weisenberg joins the captain ranks for the first time in 2012 after spending the last three seasons as an on-the-field leader in the offensive end. A 17-game starter who has missed just a single game over his three-year Bulldog career, Weisenberg recorded 34 points off 21 goals and 13 assists as a junior, good for third and second on the team, respectively. He is a two-time All-NEC First Team and All-New England First Team selection, and the senior has 60 goals, 34 assists and 94 points to his name entering his final season wearing the Black and Gold.
"What a deserving honor for Max," said Pressler. "A four-year starter, one of the best overall midfielders in the NEC and a truly great leader, he walks the walk and leads by example on the field and off."
Peter McMahon, the first of two junior captains in 2012, is coming off an all-conference season in 2011 that saw him pace the Bulldogs in points (50) and assists (30) while also scoring 20 tallies, good for third on the team. McMahon played in all 17 games, seeing 16 starts, and picked up 29 ground balls with eight caused turnovers.
"Over the last two years, Peter McMahon has been the leader of our offense from the attack position," said Pressler. "Congrats to Peter for his teammates thinking so highly of him -- the coaching staff does as well."
The final of the five captains is also the second junior in midfielder Nils Thompson. Appearing in 12 games last season, the Canadian-born middie recorded two assists, also picking up a ground ball. One of the hardest-working players day in and day out, Thompson continues to set a stellar example for his teammates through his actions both on the field and in the classroom.
"In all my years of college coaching, I've never met a finer gentlemen, a more humble individual, a more committed student-athlete or a more driven young man," said Pressler. "We are all better people for having Nils Thompson in our locker room."
For the full 2012 Bryant University men's lacrosse schedule and roster, and for continuing news and notes on this year's team, please visit www.bryantbulldogs.com.