CENTERVILLE, Mass.-- The Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference launched its 2014 Media Day site Monday (Feb. 3). Lake Erie College, led by ECAC Coach of the Year Greg Stocks, is projected to finish third in the conference in the Preseason Coaches' Poll.
Mercyhurst University, the 2013 ECAC Champions and national runner-up, are slated to finish first in the conference, followed by Seton Hill University at two. All three teams qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season. Following the Storm, Lindenwood University was picked to finish fourth. Wheeling Jesuit University, Walsh University, Ohio Valley University and Alderson-Broaddus round out the rest of the poll.
The Storm has received numerous awards in the offseason. In Lacrosse Magazine's Midsummer Power Rankings, the Storm was ranked ninth and moved up to eighth in the magazine's preseason poll. InsideLacrosse.com tabbed Lake Erie 10th in their 2014 Face-Off Yearbook. The website also named junior midfielder Reagan Harding (Saskatoon, Sask./Bishop James Mahoney), junior defender Justin Goodwin (New Westminster, B.C./New Westminster Secondary) and senior attackman Trevor Tarte (Amherstburg, Ont./Kiski Prep) Pre-season All-Americans.
The Storm return seven starters, including All-Americans Harding and Goodwin, from last year's team that finished 12-5 and qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the program's short history. The strength of the Storm will be their defense which allowed less than eight goals a game last season. In addition to Goodwin returning, Adam Bakular (Courtenay, B.C./G. P. Vanier) returns for his senior season after starting all 44 games in his first three seasons. Tyler Smoot (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Scioto) and Zach Bruening (Lancaster, N.Y./Lancaster) also return after making seven starts each last season as freshmen. ECAC All-Rookie Team goalie Tom Lipomi (Hamburg, N.Y./Hamburg) is back after a successful freshman campaign in which he allowed just 7.82 goals per game and posted a 51.4% save percentage.
Several key players return to the midfield for the Storm. Macgregor Johnston (Nanaimo, B.C./Dover Bay) scored 19 goals and had eight assists last season, starting in 15 games. Ryan Jurek (Hamburg, N.Y./Hamburg) appeared in 15 games in 2013 at midfield, scoring 16 goals and recording six assists and looks to make an impact at the position this season. The Storm also returns three key defensive midfielders- Louis Eron (Baldwinsville, N.Y./C.W. Baker), Matthew Redmond (Pittsburgh, Pa./Chartiers Valley) and Mitch Redmond (Pittsburgh, Pa./Chartiers Valley).
Tarte looks to continue his superb shooting in 2014 at attack after leading the nation with 63 goals last season. He will be the only returning starting attackman for the Storm. Mitchell Shafer (Hamburg, N.Y./Hamburg) will move from midfield to attack looking to fill the void left by All-American Keegan Bal's graduation.
Lake Erie welcomes nine new players this season- five freshman and four transfers- that look to make an impact in their first season with the Storm.
The Storm starts their season in Florida in early March, traveling to Florida Southern College and the University of Tampa. Their first ECAC and home game is against Ohio Valley on March 19.