WATERVILLE, Maine --- Less than a week away from its season opener, Thomas College has been tapped for sixth place in the 2016 North Atlantic Conference (NAC) men's lacrosse preseason poll, the conference office announced Wednesday. The Terriers accumulated 34 points. Defending champion Castleton received the top spot by a single point (76-75) over New England College.
The Terriers open the 2016 season at 5 p.m. Thursday evening when they host Wheelock.
Thomas is now under the direction of former Husson mentor Marsh Gray. Gray takes over for Tom Sheridan, who led the Terriers to a 3-9 record overall and a 2-6 mark in NAC play a year ago. Sheridan, who also guided the Terriers from 2004-2010, remains with the program as associate head coach.
Under Sheridan, the squad had a rebuilding year. After a tough beginning, Thomas closed the season out winners in three of their last five games and will look to build off that momentum in 2016.
The majority of last year's team returns as there are 13 holdovers on the 20-man roster, including seven of the team's top eight scorers and 10 of 14 players who recorded at least one point. Sophomore midfielder Colby Blondin (Colchester, Vt. / Colchester) had a strong first season at Thomas in 2015, recording a team-best 32 points and 19 assists along with 13 goals, good for second on the team. He racked up 69 ground balls, which was sixth-best in the conference, and also won 84 face-offs on the year that was seventh in the conference.
Blondin will be supported offensively by seniors Bryan Ferris (Whitman, Mass. / Whitman-Hanson Regional) and Zac Crimmin (Westbrook, Maine / Westbrook). Ferris enjoyed his best season as a Terrier, notching career-highs in goals (21), points (26), shots (84), shots on goal (53) and shots on goal percentage (63.1%). He led the team in goals and was second in points while starting 11 of 12 games. Blondin also handled the majority of Thomas' face-offs last season, winning 84 of 222 opportunities.
Crimmin took on an increased offensive role for the Terriers last season and responded with the best outputs of his career. The senior captain, who had not scored a goal in his first two seasons, will move from defense to attack this season after finishing third on the team with 10 goals. He also ranked second on the team with eight assists and third with 18 total points.
Senior Parker Chute (Brentwood, N.H. / Exeter) will split time between the midfield and attack in 2016 after tallying 10 points last season on nine goals and an assist. He also had 19 ground balls and caused four turnovers while starting all 12 games.
The Terriers return a large group of experienced midfielders led by Blondin and senior captain Kade Strout (Richmond, Maine / Richmond). Strout started 11 of 12 games played, recording eight points on six goals and two assists. He also had 19 ground balls and caused four turnovers. Sophomores Jacob Kendall (Lewiston, Maine / Lewiston) and Michael Small (Brentwood, N.H. / Rice Memorial Prep) posted two points each. Kendall played in all 12 games with one goal, one assist, 12 ground balls and three caused turnovers. Small appeared in 11 games, scoring two goals and corralling four ground balls.
Senior Gershom Renee (Hartford, Conn. / Classical Magnet School) tallied one goal in 12 starts last season, ranking third on the team in both ground balls (30) and second in caused turnovers (25).
Senior Blaine Guido (Bangor, Maine / Lee Academy), junior Jasen Dickey (Skowhegan, Maine / Skowhegan Area), sophomore Leo Myers (Bath, Maine / Morse) and freshmen Quentin Chard (Topsham, Maine / Mount Ararat), Harry Heald (Georgetown, Maine / Morse) and Austin Armstrong (Round Pond, Maine / Lincoln Academy) will provide depth, while Renee, Armstrong and Myers will likely see time as long-stick midfielders.
On defense, senior Sheldon Jones (Lewiston, Maine / Lewiston) returns after causing a team-high 29 turnovers in 2015. He also ranked second on the team with 60 ground balls and assisted on a goal in 12 starts. He will be supported by junior Alex Lawson (Hockessin, Del. / A.I. DuPont) and fellow senior Kirby Bradburn (North Berwick, Maine / Sanford). Lawson started all nine games in which he played, totaling 20 ground balls and 19 caused turnovers. Bradburn picked up one ground ball in nine appearances. Sophomore Conner Blair (North Hartland, Vt. / Woodstock) offers some flexibilty and depth to the position.
Connor Lamberton (Shohola, Pa. / Delaware Valley) appeared in all 12 games as a freshman, making seven starts. He finished with a 12.27 goals-against average and 128 saves in over 420 minutes between the pipes. Senior midfielder Dakota Gendreau (Waterville, Maine / Waterville), a goalie on Thomas' ice hockey team, may also see some time in net. Gendreau appeared in 11 games as a field player last season, recording one goal and six ground balls while causing three turnovers.
There are just 11 games on the slate for Thomas this season with eight coming in North Atlantic Conference action. The Terriers open with home nonconference games against Wheelock on March 10 and Saint Joseph's on March 19 before hitting the road for the first time on March 26 to face Castleton in the NAC opener for both schools. Games against Maine Maritime, New England College, Johnson State and Green Mountain highlight the home schedule before Thomas' wraps the season with a home-and-home series with UMaine-Farmington on April 25 (at UMF) and 27 (at Thomas).
Voting for the preseason poll was conducted among the league's head men's lacrosse coaches.
2016 NAC Men's Lacrosse Preseason Coaches' Poll
|Team||Points (First Place Votes)|
|2.||New England College||75 (4)|