SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo lacrosse team was selected ninth in the LAXnews.com preseason poll, it was announced Wednesday. The top-ten nomination marks the first time in program history it has earned national recognition.

After finishing last year’s regular season 7-7, the Lions proceeded to stun the Deep South Conference tournament, upsetting Wingate 8-7 in a dramatic overtime contest. The next day, Saint Leo nearly upended eventual Deep South Conference Tournament champion Mars Hill College 9-7, falling by just two goals.

The growing success of the Saint Leo lacrosse program has caused experts around the nation to take notice of the Lions continuing team success, just three years after their inception.

For 2009, SLU returns the majority of their top defensemen, including Ryu Arakawa, Alec Rahe, Jeff Conroy and Pat LoGiudice. The group helped hold opponents to just 8.0 goals per game. Another catalyst to the terrific defense was back-up goalie D.J. Garry, who came in and substituted tremendously for starter David Erdman, who missed the majority of the 2008 season with an illness. For the year, Garry totaled 84 saves and had a .503 save percentage. Still, Erdman is back and look to battle for the number one spot in goal.

The team looks to improve upon their offensive output from a year ago, in which they averaged 9.8 goals per game. Leading the way for Saint Leo are their two top scorers from the previous season, Ben Brigham and Chris Storrie. The duo combined for 57 goals and currently rank second and third all-time in goals scored in the programs’ history.

Junior standout Kyle Marceau also adds depth to the Lions’ attack, contributing 17 goals and 13 assists and Mark Dargon led the team in assists with 20.

On face-off, the Lions return Ryan Groat and Mike Delbuono. Groat  went  91-for-158 at the X, posting a .576 win percentage, while Delbuono was 71-for-115 and  a .617 winning percentage.

The loss of Brady Juelson is significant, but the additions of Luke Barush, a transfer from Essex College, and incoming freshmen Joe Anderson, Jack McGuiness and Mark Benoit will look to make immediate impacts.

The Lions will open play Friday, February 20 at home at University Field against out-of-conference foe and nationally ranked Adelphi College.  Face-off is set for 7:00 pm
 
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LAXnews.com Preseason Top Ten
1. New York Tech
2. LeMoyne
3. CW Post
4. Dowling
5. Limestone
6. Adelphi
7. Merrimack
8. Mercyhurst
9. Saint Leo University
10. Molloy