By Jared Prenda
The Cinderella story for the Catholic University Cardinals men’s lacrosse team has come to an end as they fell 15-6 to Elizabethtown. The Cards were the fourth seed in the Landmark Conference as they travelled to top seeded Elizabethtown for the Conference Semifinals on Wednesday, May 1. Catholic finished the season with an 8-8 record, 4-2 in the Landmark Conference.
The team overperformed this season by all standards. Last season, it failed to qualify for the conference playoffs with a 2-4 conference record. It was ranked as the sixth best team out of seven in the coaches preseason poll and went an abysmal 4-6 against non-conference opposition. On top of this, the roster was built of mostly freshman, with all three starting attackers being rookies. Despite this, the team won its first four conference games of the season, including an 11-6 road win against Elizabethtown at the end of March.
Junior midfielder Vince Catenacci, who played his first season for the Birds following his transfer from Division II Tampa, was named to the First Team All Landmark. Catenacci lead the team with 28 goals, a mark that ties for tenth most in the conference. He also finished second in the league with six man-up goals and a team high five game winners. He was joined by three other members of the team to receive All Landmark Honors. Senior Luke Scaduto was named to the second team, his second career All Landmark nod after making the First Team 2017. The senior assisted in 14 out of 15 games and finished third on the team with 35 ground balls.
Despite the two team’s last outing, this matchup was a much different outcome. Elizabethtown dominated play from the opening faceoff, rattling off three quick goals in the first period. Catholic responded with a little over a minute left in the quarter in a man up situation, when junior Mark Toccio scored on an assist from Cameron Dunn to cut the deficit down to 3-1.
Elizabethtown started the second 15-minute quarter the same way it started the first, with three unanswered goals to advance the lead to 6-1 with seven minutes left in the half. In a reversal of roles, Dunn scored on an assist from Toccio in a man-up situation to bring the score to 6-2. Freshman midfielder Tommy Welch also scored unassisted with 20 seconds on the clock to end the half at a 6-3 advantage to Elizabethtown.
The second half started auspicious for Catholic, as freshman Nick Fanelli potted a goal to bring the game to its closest margin of 6-4. Following this, however, The Blue Jays ran away with the game, pouring on goal after goal to expand the lead to 11-4 in the fourth quarter. Both teams scored a few more times to bring the game to its concluding score of 15-6, ending Catholic’s season.
Despite the heartbreaking end to an upstart season, the Cardinals have much to look forward to in the near future. Freshman takeoff specialist Mike McShea was named Landmark Conference Rookie of the Year and named to the All Landmark Second Team. The rookie won .644 of his faceoffs, which was the highest faceoff win percentage in the Landmark Conference. He finished second in both faceoffs won (212) and faceoffs taken (329). The freshman also lead the conference in ground balls with a school single season record of 134.
McShea was joined by classmate Joey Rockovich on the Second Team. Rockovich leads the team in points (40) and assists (19) while starting all 15 games as an attacker in his rookie season. Rockovich was also one of the teams most consistent players, tallying a point in 14 straight games and an assist in nine straight. The two freshman are the first from Catholic to be nominated to an All Landmark team since Brendan Englert in 2011. Englert also won Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year honors that season.
The team went above and beyond all expectations this season, and with a bright future lineup of players the team looks to only improve. The team has the potential to be a championship caliber squad as early as next season, but only time will tell if this team is legitimate or if this was a fluke season.