Colby College men’s lacrosse coach Justin Domingos says with the late start to preseason, it’s going to take a while to fully know his team. The offense, though, is following a familiar script.
John Jennings set a school record last year with 43 goals and Ian Deveau was a second-team All-American last spring. Together, they’ve combined for 23 of Colby’s 35 goals over the first three games this season.
Deveau already has 12 goals and four assists, including all four of Colby’s man-up goals.
“He’s one of the best midfielders in the country,” Domingos said. “I’m not sure if there’s a midfielder right now — and I haven’t seen them all — in the country that shoots as well as he does. He’s just a very talented kid and somebody you’ve got to account for. A lot of guys are unselfish and that speaks to him getting those looks.”
A key on defense is Peter Willauer, who leads the Mules with 16 ground balls. Domingos says he’s also a factor in Colby winning 60 percent of its faceoffs so far.
“Peter Willauer is a fast, athletic defenseman who we play on the wings on faceoffs,” Domingos said. “Our success facing off is due in large part to his wing play. You win the draws and he picks the ball up and we’re either pushing transition or we’re securing the ball — which in terms of possessions, is huge.”
In their three games this year, the Mules have also followed their pattern as a team. They’re 2-0 at home and 0-1 on the road. Over the past five seasons, Colby is 27-4 at home, with all four losses by one goal. The Mules are 11-21 away from home.
“It’s a great question,” Domingos said. “I think if I knew the answer to that, I’d be making a lot more money.
“There’s a million different variables. After last weekend at Hamilton, we racked our brains: What could we have done differently? Did we do something wrong? Because we didn’t play well and they played a great game.”
It could also be almost entirely random — if Colby was undefeated on weekends, people would probably say it was because they were freed from the burden of class schedules — but in any case, the Mules probably aren’t complaining that three of their next four games are in Waterville.
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Colby’s softball season starts at 9 a.m., Sunday with the first of 10 games in Clermont, Fla. If you want to be optimistic, the Mules are scheduled to play their first home game April 3 with a doubleheader against Maine Maritime Academy.
The Mules were 12-20 last season, including a 2-10 mark in the New England Small College Athletic Conference. But coach Kristina Katori thinks the pieces are there for improvement.
“I’m excited,” Katori said. “I think we have more talent than we’ve had in previous years. I think it’s a matter of putting all that together. We’re very young, but I think that’s a great thing. We’ll probably start at least five or six underclassmen.”
Katori expects to start three freshmen. Hall-Dale graduate Carylanne Wolfington can play catcher, infield or outfield, while Emily Schatz will be the regular shortstop and Tori Sansone will play first base.
Megan Michie (5-7, 3.02 ERA), Erin Caputo (2-4, 3.25), Aimee Polimeno (3-4, 3.33), Lauren Becker (1-3, 4.94) and Kelsey Yarmudian (1-2, 7.88) are all returning pitchers, although Yarmudian is currently out with a broken finger. Michie led Colby in starts, innings and strikeouts last year and probably has the most “stuff” among the pitchers.
“We’ve had the gun out on all of them,” Katori said. “They’ve been pretty consistent, but they’ve also hit some bumps in the road. Megan Michie threw the most innings among the returning pitchers, so she’ll see a significant amount of time on the mound. Aimee and Becks have both made great strides with where they were a year ago. We expect some really good things from them. Erin Caputo’s also working really hard right now.”
Katori expects the Mules to play solid defense and put the ball in play at the plate. She’s eager to see how the Mules do in those areas now that they’ll finally be getting outside.
“We’ve established where we want to go with the program, and we’ve prepared everyone in the last six weeks for being in the field house and getting repetitions in,” Katori said. “Now it’s a matter of doing it in a game situation. We can bunt live all we want off our own pitchers, but you’ve got to be able to do it in crunch time.”
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The University of Maine at Farmington baseball team, meanwhile, will not be taking a spring trip to Florida. Like many teams, they were looking good to get outside soon before the storm hit earlier this week.
“I think we’re on our 28th indoor practice in the intimate confines of Dearborn Gymnasium,” UMF coach Chris Bessey said. “We’ve got a roster of 20 and I think it’s a solid 20.”
UMF probably won’t be outside until March 28 and even then, the Beavers won’t be in the sun. That game, at Elms, is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. start.
“Hopefully, it will be warmed up a little bit by then,” Bessey said.
Nine of those 20 players are freshmen. Sean Cabaniss, Tom Grady and Jory Humphrey — all Erskine grads — should contribute right away.
Castleton and Husson are expected to be among the top teams in the league, Colby-Sawyer has seven starters back and Thomas is the defending North Atlantic Conference champion. That’s four teams and only four make the NAC tournament, but Bessey believes the Beavers have a shot.
“Our goal is to make the NAC tourney, which I think is a realistic goal,” he said. “There’s going to be two or three teams fighting for one of those final spots.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243