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Young Eagles Team Looking to Build on First Postseason Experience

sophomores mason gauntt, jake pangle, eric husselbaugh and jared barley with the eagle head logo

BRIDGEWATER, Va. – A younger Bridgewater men's lacrosse roster will still have to find a way to build on the postseason experience it gained last season.

After missing a first-ever Old Dominion Athletic Conference playoff spot by just two goals in 2016 and 2017, the Eagles broke through last year to earn the sixth seed and led for the first 21 minutes of their playoff game at #17 Roanoke.

"It was a well-deserved reward for that senior class and what they had endured," said head coach Mic Grant. "Making our first postseason appearance, and then playing Roanoke tightly on the road, set a good platform for the returning players."

However, the Eagles enter this season with 73% of their roster represented by underclassmen.

"It's a new year, and a much different team," said Grant. "But we have talented freshmen who have worked hard since the beginning of fall ball, and sophomores who made big contributions last year."

Four of the Eagles' six leading scorers from 2018 return, representing all returning classes- sophomore Eric Husselbaugh (35g, 12a), senior Sean MacLeish (24g, 14a), junior Justin Calabrese (10g, 13a) and senior Taylor Phipps (12g, 7a). Jake Pangle added nine points in his rookie season.

Bridgewater won nearly 57% of its faceoffs last season, and returns Mason Gauntt- who ranked second in the ODAC in faceoff wins as a freshman and became the first Eagle to corral 100 ground balls in a season.

The Eagles are very deep at defense and LSM, including senior Jake Truman- an All-ODAC and All-State selection in 2017, fellow senior Jacob Clemmer, and junior Alesandro Gargano. BC can also roll out a sophomore defensive line featuring Jared Barley (8 CT, 27 GB), Brandon Schick (12 CT, 11 GB) and Joey Pellegrino.

In the cage the Eagles will have to replace two-year starter Kevin Metzger, with senior Hunter Bagby and freshman Robbie Noyes among the candidates.

"Our goal is always to make ODACs," said Grant. "It's tougher now because we have a target on our back for the first time after making playoffs and being picked sixth in the preseason poll."

The challenge is always high in the ODAC, a conference which featured four of the top-21 vote getters in this week's national poll.

Bridgewater will play several new non-conference opponents early in the season, including three straight home games leading up to the ODAC opener, also at home, against #19 Lynchburg.

"Our non-conference schedule will challenge us and allow our younger players to get a feel for the speed of the college game before getting to ODAC play," said Grant.