LEXINGTON, Va. – Saturday afternoon will be a special day for the VMI lacrosse community. The Keydets will be hosting Mercer University as part of the team’s annual Wounded Warrior Project game. VMI and the Bears will clash at 2 p.m. at the SprinTurf Field.
Those unable to make the trek to Lexington can follow the action through a live statistical feed provided by the VMI athletic communications department. Fans can also follow the action on Twitter by simply following @VMILacrosse.
Saturday’s game will be just the second-ever meeting between Mercer and VMI. Last season, VMI made the trip to Macon, Ga., pulling out a 15-9 victory which was the first win for head coach Brian Anken at the Institute.
In the tilt a year ago, Andrew Nieminski and Colin Bosse each turned in a hat trick while Keith Long posted four assists. Drew Leonard, Russell East, Stephen Robarge, Tyler Griffith and Dallas Wiggins all put up goals for the Keydets.
The 15-9 win improved VMI’s Anken to 4-0 all-time against the Childs family, including twice over Mercer’s current head man, Jason Childs. Anken defeated Presbyterian College in his final season at Mars Hill College in Presbyterian’s first varsity season with Childs on the sidelines.
Saturday’s Weather.com Report:
Saturday’s predicted high will be in the upper 70s, according to Weather.com. The chance of precipitation is listed at 10%. Higher winds are expected near 14 miles per hour.
Wounded Warrior Project:
The Wounded Warrior Project is something the VMI lacrosse team takes pride in being a part of every season. Last season the Keydets hosted Canisius College at Foster Stadium.
This season, the Keydets will hold a raffle, with all proceeds benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project. Prizes for the raffle include Wounded Warrior Project T-shirts, various gift certificates and cards to local restaurants and a top prize of an Apple iPad.
T-Shirts will also be sold with all proceeds going towards the Project. A table where raffle tickets and T-shirts are being sold will be located at the SprinTurf Field.
VMI’s Last Time Out:
VMI ended a long drought without a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference victory last weekend, upended host Manhattan College 9-7 in Riverdale, N.Y. It was the Keydets’ first MAAC victory in 17 tries, dating back to April 25, 2009.
Backed by a 15-save effort by junior netminder Matt Lindemann, VMI held off a late run by the Jaspers. Lindemann also tallied the first assist for a VMI goalkeeper in a MAAC game, hitting Mickey Hofmeister on a long clearing pass at the top of the third quarter.
East finished the day with his first career hat trick while Hofmeister and Leonard tallied a pair. Long and freshman Mike DeBlasio accounted for one goal apiece. Long also had three assists in the game as four other Keydets tallied one helper apiece.
After finding themselves down 1-0 early in the first quarter, the Keydets wasted no time wresting the lead from Manhattan, taking a 2-1 lead less than two minutes into the second quarter. VMI never relinquished the lead, though the Jaspers challenged late in the game, getting the score to 8-6 in favor of VMI mid-way through the fourth stanza.
The win was the first MAAC victory for head coach Anken, who is in his second season at VMI. The victory was aided by the Keydets cashing in on two of their three extra-man chances.
Scouting the Keydets:
VMI’s offense has been hitting on all cylinders lately, scoring 10plus goals in four of its last five games, and hitting nine last weekend at Manhattan. Fifteen Keydets have tallied at least one point already this season.
Keith Long leads the way for VMI, putting up 32 points on a balanced 16 goals and 16 assists. Drew Leonard is one of five VMI players with double-digit points and is second on the team with 19 (18g, 1a).
Freshman Mike DeBlasio has 16 points (13g, 3a) while Russell East has posted 15 points, stemming from 11 goals and four helpers. Mickey Hofmeister hit double-digit points with a two-goal, one assist effort at Manhattan.
At the face-off X, senior Stephen Robarge has won 64.9 percent of his draws this year (161-248), ranking him second in the country in percentage. He sit No. 1 nationally in groundballs per game, collecting 94in his 11 games (8.55).
Between the pipes, junior Matt Lindemann, who was named the MAAC Defensive Player of the Week on Tuesday, has made 56 saves in his four games. He logged his first career win last weekend at Manhattan while also tallying VMI’s first assist by a goalkeeper in a MAAC game.
As a team, VMI is ranked No. 2 in face-off percentage among the 61 Division I teams, winning 164-262 attempts (62.6). The Keydets are also the third-best gorundballing team in the nation, collecting 13.09 per game. VMI has out-groundballed its opponents 341-321 this season.