Written by Sean Dahlin and Matthew McKinney
BUENA VISTA, Va.—With a new head coach in Stephen Macurdy, the Southern Virginia University men's lacrosse team looks to have a strong 2013 season for the jump to NCAA Division III status.
"As a whole, we look to be competitive and expect to have steady progression throughout the season," said first-year head coach Stephen Macurdy.
Macurdy, who was a four-year starter and 2004 MCLA Division II All-American at Southern Virginia, was named head coach this past summer after spending the last five seasons as an assistant coach and co-head coach.
"We have worked hard this offseason and preseason from the coaching staff to the scholar-athletes," said Macurdy. "We hope to continue to build upon what has already been done and make this team competitive at the DIII level right away."
"Our captains will all be an important piece to our program's success," explained Macurdy. "This is a key year for forming leadership and it starts with our captains."
Captaining the midfield is Neilson as he looks to have a breakout year for the Knights. Last year, Neilson registered six goals—the team's fifth-most goals scored—and plans to improve that mark as his role increases.
Larsen, who will play attack and midfield this year, finished 2012 with a team-leading 26 goals through ten games. According to Macurdy, Larsen will be looked upon to provide the offensive spark and attempt to improve upon his successful freshman campaign.
Thompson, a junior transfer from Utah Valley University, enters the spring season as starting goalie. According to Macurdy, he will provide a defensive stronghold and leadership skills to help the team function as one cohesive unit.
The Knights return four scholar-athletes from last year—Neilson, Larsen, Brian Martinez (Mesquite, Texas) and Colin Smith (Silver Spring, Md.)—that Macurdy expects will serve as examples to the newcomers.
"We have some exciting players on offense," said Macurdy. "We should have some exciting games for our fans to watch."
To work alongside Larsen on the attack is freshman Jessi Buck (Las Vegas, Nev.) who Macurdy expects will together ignite the offense and help take the pressure off of the defense.
In the midfield will be sophomore Derek Rush (Esmont, Va.) who Macurdy complimented for his hustle, speed, and athleticism. Freshmen Marcel Blake (Falls Church, Va.), David Hostetter (Randolph, Vt.) and Edward Martinez (Cayey, P.R.) along with brothers Ammon Hardy (Buena Vista, Va.) and Chanson Hardy (Monterey, Calif.) join Rush at the midfield position.
"Our defense this year will be athletic," said Macurdy. "I expect them to keep us in games and push the ball back toward our opponents' goal."
In addition to co-captain Thompson, freshman goal keeper Chris Snyder (Miles City, Mont.) gives the Knights much needed depth at the position.
Freshman defender Bryce Morse (Hershey, Pa.), according to Macurdy, will utilize his size and experience on defense to wreak havoc on opposing offenses while fellow-freshman Presley Gamble (Nashville, Tenn.) will provide a solid contribution as well.
"This season's schedule is a mixture of home and road contests that will provide a good challenge for our team," said Macurdy.
Southern Virginia has 10 contests on the docket, including five games at the friendly confines of The Fields along with seven NCAA DIII opponents—Bethany College (W.Va.), Bridgewater College, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ferrum College, Frostburg State University and Randolph College.
"It's an exciting time to be affiliated with Southern Virginia Men's Lacrosse," said Macurdy. "The move into the NCAA Division III level and the CAC will take our program to new heights."
After receiving provisional NCAA Division III membership this past summer, Southern Virginia University accepted an invitation to join the Capital Athletic Conference—one of the premier D-III athletic conferences for lacrosse on the east coast—effective July 1, 2013.
Due to joining the CAC, Southern Virginia promoted its men's lacrosse program from a club to a varsity sport—making it the only varsity-level, NCAA-sanctioned lacrosse program in an LDS environment.
Men's lacrosse begins the 2013 season with a home opener at The Field against the University of Richmond Club team on Feb. 9, at 1 p.m.