GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- With the return of 14 lettermen, including the team's top-seven goal scorers from a year ago, the Tusculum College men's lacrosse team will open the 2017 campaign this weekend at fourth-ranked Tampa.
Tusculum director of lacrosse and men's head coach Richard Carrington will guide the Black & Orange into its fourth season when the Pioneers take the field Sunday against the nationally-ranked Spartans.
Carrington has built the program from its birth in 2013 which has shown improvement in each season, with last year's club establishing several milestones. The team finished tied for fifth place in the South Atlantic Conference standings to punch its ticket for the league postseason for the first time in school history. The Pioneers posted a 12-9 comeback win at Coker in the SAC Quarterfinal to advance to Charlotte, North Carolina and the SAC semifinal where they were eliminated by eventual champion Lenoir-Rhyne.
Following Sunday's game in Tampa, the Pioneers will return home to host Pfeiffer next Saturday at 3 p.m. from Pioneer Field in TC's home opener.
Tusculum returns 98 percent of its offensive production from 2016, including last year's leading scorer in All-Conference midfielder Dallas Wade. Dallas Wade, a junior from Victoria, British Columbia, scored 32 goals and dished out nine assists for his 38 points. His 2.07 goals per game average was sixth in the conference.
Also returning in the midfield is Dallas' cousin, junior Nate Wade. The two-time All-SAC selection was tied for third on the team with his 59 points, while his 19 goals were fourth on the squad. Nate Wade also distributed nine assists for his total of 28 points. The Victoria, B.C. product accounted for 24 ground balls, caused four turnovers and 38 faceoff wins. In his two seasons at Tusculum, Nate Wade has scored 42 goals which are third most in program history.
Senior Ross Parson, along with Boyd, are the only two players to play in all 41 lacrosse games in Tusculum history. A native of Coquitlam, British Columbia, Parsons recorded a goal and four assists for his five points in 2016. He finished second on the team with his 43 ground balls and led the squad with his 47 faceoff wins.
Senior midfielder Alexander Kleinberg (played in 11 games a year ago where he tallied 13 ground balls and finished third on the team with 33 faceoff wins. His 116 career ground balls are the second most in program history.
Senior Timothy Drumtra is back after missing the 2016 season due to injury. The Fort Washington, Maryland product has played in 15 career games at Tusculum where he has totaled a pair of goals and seven ground balls.
Junior Tyler Klarner scored 15 goals to go along with his team-best 13 assists to give him 28 points on the season. The Port Coquitlam, British Columbia product caused four turnovers while recording 10 ground balls in 2016.
Sophomore Keegan Bell tied for fifth in goal scoring as he found the back of the net 15 times. The Port Coquitlam, British Columbia native added eight assists for his 23 points while also contributing 10 ground balls and six caused turnovers.
Sophomore Charles Mills (Hamburg, N.J.) also returns after his rookie season where he notched one goal and three assists, while hauling in 18 ground balls.
Sophomore Jason Willis rounds out the returners in the midfield for the Pioneers. Willis saw action in five games as a freshman where he forced one turnover.
The Pioneers will have eight newcomers in the midfield including Adrian Brown (Raleigh, N.C./Leesville Road HS), Quentin Jennings (Galloway, N.J./Absegami HS), Jose Cuevas (Gainesville, Fla./Eastside HS), Davis Heitzman (Marietta, Ga./Lassiter HS), Todd Lloyd (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield HS), Preston Gallagher (Liberty, N.C./Southern Alamance HS) and Campbell Holley (Trussville, Ala./Hewitt-Trussville HS).
Tusculum's all-time leading scorer Ben Boyd returns for his senior campaign. The Bel Air, Maryland native has scored 66 goals in his TC career, including 24 last season which were second on the team. Boyd finished fifth on the team with 27 points, including his three assists. Two of his goals were game-winners and ended the year with 25 ground balls and six caused turnovers.
Senior Chris Ryan finished second on the team with his 23 goals and 29 points. He enters this season having scored in his last two straight outings. The Old Bridge, New Jersey native also dished out six assists to go along with his 13 ground balls and three caused turnovers. In his 28 career outings, Ryan has scored 49 goals and posted 58 points, both the second most in program history.
Junior Andrew Kransberger scored also tallied 15 goals for the Pioneers while dishing out 10 assists for his 25 points. In his two TC seasons, the Grand Rapids, Michigan native has totaled 31 goals, 20 assists and 51 points.
Sophomore Cam Rogers played in eight contests in his first Tusculum season as the native of Windsor, Ontario recorded three ground balls.
Three veterans return on defense for the Black & Orange with junior Ethan Merrow boasting the most experience from a year ago. In his 12 contests, Merrow (Hoschton, Ga.) fielded 16 ground balls and caused nine turnovers.
Waldorf, Maryland junior Eric Varlas played in 11 outings with four starts for the Pioneers as he tallied forced a pair of miscues and recorded seven ground balls.
Senior Anthony Gatewood will be playing in his final collegiate season in 2016. The St. Louis, Missouri native appeared in five games, accounted for two ground balls and caused a turnover in last year's meeting at Tampa.
Newcomers on defense include: Tyler Beebe (Raleigh, N.C./Leesville Road HS), Joel Edgar (Port Coquitlam, B.C./Terry Fox Secondary School), Cade Lennon (Longwood, Fla./Lake Brantley HS), Collin Norotsky (Denver, Pa./Garden Spot HS), Jordan Mauro (Montgomery, N.J./Valley Central HS), Tyler Stapleton (Waxhaw, N.C./Marvin Ridge HS) and Quinn McKitrick (Aldergrove, B.C./Aldergrove Community Secondary School).
Senior Kevin Haggerty has been the Ironman in goal for the Pioneers over the last two seasons. The Suffern, New York native has played in every minute in goal since his arrival at the Greeneville school while earning team most valuable player honors in each of the past two years. In 2016, Haggerty posted a 10.77 goals against average (34th in NCAA II) while making 189 saves. His 12.53 saves per game average was second in the league and the eighth-best in the country. He has been named the SAC Defensive Player of the Week three times in his collegiate career, including twice last season. In his 28 TC games, he has amassed 333 saves and a 10.69 career goals against average, both program records.
Tusculum will open South Atlantic Conference play on Saturday, March 4th when the Pioneers host Brevard.