By: John Kaywood
The Sacred Heart University men’s lacrosse team won four of their first five matches of the season. The Pioneers have defeated tough opponents in Stony Brook University, Furman University and Dartmouth College.
The Pioneers then played some important games over spring break, finishing up the bulk of their non-conference schedule.
Junior midfielder Max Tuttle and redshirt junior attack Joe Saggese, can be credited to the Pioneers’ hot start due to great individual performances.
Saggese had a big day against Dartmouth, finishing with a career high six points. Tuttle tallied seven points versus Dartmouth, which inched him only two points shy of 100-career points.
“It’s exciting to be on the brink of having 100 career points,” said Tuttle.
Head coach Jon Basti, who had a stint as assistant coach at Hartford, is in his third season as head coach for the Pioneers and emphasized a theme in this year’s team.
“I think it’s staying with what we do, not getting too far ahead of ourselves and not worrying about the next day or even the next game,” said Basti. “Just thinking about the
next play and the next step in the process.”
Over spring break, the Pioneers defeated Providence in overtime, 10-9, on March 3. They then faced 16th ranked Vermont on the road on March 7, and Hartford at home on March 10. Those games resulted in a loss.
Tuttle scored his 100th career point in Sacred Heart’s victory over Providence.
There’s a method to scheduling three key games in such a short span. Essentially, it was to simulate and get the Pioneers prepared for a similarly scheduled end of the season.
Heading into 16th ranked Vermont was definitely the biggest test of the three matches. Senior captain Julian Garritano knew that they were ready and hungry.
“In the past we played ranked teams, it’s cool to play a ranked team, but this is just business,” said Garritano.
Basti relies on Garritano and captains Matt Caracappa, TJ Fitzell, and Joseph Choiniere, in pivotal stretches such as this. He emphasized why these four men are perfect leaders for this years’ squad.
“Those four guys are very hard on themselves and hold themselves to a high standard. They’re all very good students, great kids and understand that they have a little bit of a legacy to live up to the past captains,” said Basti. “They have been definitely good role models for the rest of the guys,”
In addition to this attitude put forth by the captains, having a total of 47 student athletes practicing and competing everyday has also aided the team tremendously.
“It creates a lot of competition, the last guy on our bench is still really good. Probably can be the middle or best guy on a lot of teams in the country. We are pretty fortunate to have the guys we have. Everyone on our team, whether it’s the first guy or the 46th guy brings something to the table,” said Basti.
Looking ahead to conference play, the Pioneers know the weight of every game and what impact each game holds. They will finish off conference play and the regular season at Hobart on April 28. Two possible Northeast Conference (NEC) Championship games would follow that game.
“Every conference game is the championship game, you got to bring it every game. Last season you could tell from some scores, anyone can beat anyone and every game is going to be a battle going forward,” said Garritano.