Defending Manhattan. The Rise of Manhattan Men’s Lacrosse.

Manhattan College has adopted the personality of its city. Never sleeping, always grinding, and producing countless success stories, Manhattan is no-longer that unknown college ‘in the city.’

Located in Riverdale, NY, just 10 miles outside of New York City’s downtown, Manhattan College will have 88% of graduates employed full time or enrolled in graduate school within nine months of graduation. Not only are these graduate employed, but are working for top employers including Apple, Ernst & Young, ExxonMobil, JPMorgan Chase and NBC Universal. Also, Money Magazine lists Manhattan as #6 in transformative colleges.

In conclusion, Manhattan College as an academic institution for higher learning has it going on. Their philosophy is simple, give an incredible college experience while offering a great return on your investment. As the old saying goes,”Location, location, location.” Being less than 10 miles from downtown, Manhattan College takes full advantage of its alumni network, and the millions of business networks that exist in the Big Apple. For parents who have children aspiring to attend college, they know it’s a huge investment. The amount of time, effort, and money spent can be overwhelming. As influencers in the lacrosse community, and as people who guide student-athletes to get the most out of their college education, Manhattan College has always been at the top of the list.

However, dating back to 2015, a year before Drew Kelleher took over as Head Coach, the Men’s Lacrosse program at Manhattan was 1-14. So, for a student-athlete looking for a great, local school, Manhattan checked all the boxes. But, for someone seeking a great local school with a competitive Division 1 program,  Manhattan had some work to do. 

Fast forward to 2019, with a new wave of support from the Athletic Department, Manhattan Men’s Lacrosse has accumulated 6 wins, including perennial power Bryant and defending MAAC Champion Canisius. This past season, Manhattan suffered 2 one goal losses, which would have resulted in a winning record for the first time in 10 years. Manhattan was 5-4 at home this year and are undergoing huge off-season improvements to their home stadium, better known as Gaelic Park. Manhattan has acquired a monster deal with Under Armour, transforming their athletic programs to look and feel like the best of the best in all college sports. Also, the Men’s Lacrosse program will be moving into a brand-new, state of the art locker room located just outside the entrance to Gaelic Park. Defensively, the Jaspers have become nationally recognized. Currently, the Jaspers have the #1 man-down defense, #2 clearing percentage, top 20 in scoring defense, top 10 in saves per game and top 10 in save percentage in the country. Manhattan received 3 All-MAAC selections in 2019, which is the most since 2010. Outstanding! Today, Manhattan should undoubtedly be considered a top option for Long Islanders seeking a competitive athletic and academic experience, which is not too far from home.

After talking to John Odierna, Assistant Coach and Defensive Coordinator, about the rise of Manhattan Men’s Lacrosse, he said, “Our progress over the last four seasons is indicative of where this program can go.” Based on production, this program is going places. With such rapid growth, the first question that comes to mind is how do you do it? After asking Coach Odierna this very question, he replied, “Our guys deserve a ton of credit for believing in our vision a few years ago. Once they got on campus, we got to work on day one, and we have been seeing positive growth ever since.”  

Coach Kelleher has built this program on players who have a strong work ethic, grit, and determination. Since 2016, when Coach Kelleher took over the program, Manhattan has recruited 20 players from Long Island alone. According to Coach Odierna, “Our guys take pride in building a program and putting Manhattan on the map. We have a bunch of doers.” Coach Odierna feels the Jaspers success is “A special thing. Seeing our guys put in the work and have success, makes it all worth it.”

To further educate the Long Island Lacrosse Community about Manhattan Men’s Lacrosse, the coaching staff was nice enough to gather five of their stud defensive oriented players to join LILJ for a little video conference. Our favorite aspect of this hangout was each player in the room played for a Long Island High School program. High School programs represented by these players include: St. Anthony’s, Chaminade, Bayport Blue-Point, and Plainview JFK.

Be sure to tune into our conversation by watching the video at the bottom of this article.

While we only talked to the Jaspers from Long Island, its important LILJ highlights some of Manhattan’s key contributors on the defensive end, all of which contribute every week to Manhattan’s success on gameday. Pat Redl (Ridgewood, New Jersey) and Dan Delbene (Yorktown, New York) are man-down specialists, both contributing to Manhattan’s number one man-down defense. Christian Clifford (Guilderland) playing some long stick midfield as a freshman this past year. Dylan Demuro (Arch Bishop Stepinac, Westchester) and Kelson Borisenko (Hill Academy, Canada) are key cogs on the defensive end, starting a close defense throughout the 2019 season. Kelson actually trains in the summer up in Canada by playing Junior A box lacrosse. His efforts in the off-season paid off as he accumulated 1 goal and 3 assists during the 2019 season. Lastly, helping the Jasper defense is defensive midfielders Will Ratchford (Mountain Lakes) and Sam Crutchfield (Montclair).

Brendan Krebs, sophomore starting goalie for Manhattan and Chaminade graduate, earned 1st Team All-MAAC for Manhattan College this past season. He's the third goalie in program history to get ALL-MAAC. (Photo-credit: Manhattan College Athletics)

Now, let’s introduce the Long Islanders who entered the conversation on Manhattan lacrosse. LILJ got a chance to talk with:

Brendan Krebs (East Williston, Chaminade)  

  • 1st Team All-MAAC
  • Starting sophomore goaltender
  • 9th Nationally in Save % (56.9%)
  • 10th Nationally in Saves per game (13.29)

CJ Mazzocchi (Plainview)

  • Starting junior defensive midfielder
  • Top defensive midfielder in 2018 & 2019
  • Embraced role after scoring 50+ points/year in High School

Rob Johnson (Bayport Blue-point)

  • Starting junior long stick midfielder
  • Started on Man-down unit which was Number 1 Ranked Nationally
  • Transferred into Manhattan after his Freshman year

Luke Pacher (Williston Park, Chaminade)

  • Starting sophomore close defenseman
  • Started in 27 of 28 games in his career 

Matt Makowski (Dix Hills, St. Anthony’s)

  • Contributing junior long stick midfielder
  • Played in 11 games in the 2019 season
  • Highly touted player out of High School

During our conversation we discussed some important items, such as, transitioning to college, getting recruited, how to become successful as a college student athlete, how to pick a college, and more. Most importantly, the Jaspers from Long Island talked about why playing lacrosse for Manhattan College has been such a rewarding, positive, and impactful experience. Please take some time to learn more about these five studletes and educate yourself on why Manhattan lacrosse is a sleeping giant in Division I college lacrosse.

 

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