BY RYAN TOUHEY
The Sacred Heart University men’s club lacrosse team began their season the weekend prior to spring break, from Feb. 23-24. They played three games, going 2-1 in the process.
The season opener against Fairfield University on Feb. 23, resulted in a 15-6 defeat. The other two games were played at Hofstra University in Long Island the next day, where Sacred Heart defeated Hofstra in overtime 6-5, and New York University, 7-2. Both victories were the first coaching wins for Ben Ketcham, who received the head coach position back in October.
“I was personally asked to take over the position after volunteering for the past three years as the assistant coach,” said Ketcham. “It was just a natural fit for me to become the coach after the previous coach had left.”
The previous coach was Ryan Hogan, who coached the team from 2016 to 2018. Both Ketcham and Hogan graduated from Sacred Heart in 2015 and were teammates on the club lacrosse team. Before coming to Sacred Heart, Hogan was a U.S. Marine.
Ketcham inculcates some of Hogan’s coaching strategies into the minds of the players.
“Hogan was very diligent in his work and stressed attention to detail,” said Ketcham. “It’s a grind for us being a club sport, especially since we don’t recruit, so we make sure we keep everyone engaged and happy and wanting to play.”
Unlike Hogan, Ketcham is running the team without any assistant or volunteer coaches. He’s looking to build a new foundation and hopes to continue coaching the team in the foreseeable future.
His main goal is to lead Sacred Heart back to the National Championship, which they haven’t been to since 2013. Ketcham was a member of that team as a college freshman. The team was ranked eighth in the National College Lacrosse League that year, which, according to Club Sports, is the highest ranking they have ever received in their history.
“It was fun and quite a ride that season,” said Ketcham. “We tried to stay as close as possible as a team and everybody wanted to hang out with each other, whether it was shooting after practice or getting together on the weekends.”
Since he is the lone coach, Ketcham counts on his senior captains to reiterate drills, techniques, and strategies to the other team members. He also allows them to provide their own input. The captains consist of attack Clay Sweitzer, defenseman Matt Depietro, midfielder, defenseman Jack Sullivan, and midfielder Johnny Brown.
Ketcham has also established a playbook for the season, which is something that the team hasn’t had in years past. He encourages the players to be creative by using game knowledge that they attained back in high school and beyond.
“I know one thing that I’ve never been able to do as a defender is score,” said Sullivan. “Ben has said before, ‘If you have an open shot take it,’ and in one of the three games, an opposing player went off me and I spun around, and I took the shot and scored.”
Sullivan credits Ketcham for giving him confidence to take the shot in the first place.
Sweitzer and the attackers, on the other hand, have focused on playing looser.
“It’s all about putting in new sets,” said Sweitzer. “Working in that offense and putting in your own spin moves on the defenders is something that he [Ketcham] has been focusing on.”
Ketcham and the players hope to raise awareness of the team around campus. They want people to understand that they do play in a competitive environment, and encourage anyone who is into lacrosse to come and join them.
The team’s next game will be on March 23, where they will host the University of Massachusetts Amherst. After that, they’ll host the University of Bridgeport on March 24.