Written by Sports Information Student Assistant, Jake Sipes-Salter
HANOVER, Ind. - With many of the mainstays in their lineup returning for another season, the Hanover men's lacrosse team garnered second place honors in the Heartland Collegiate Lacrosse Conference preseason coaches poll with 21 points.
This will be the second year that the HCLC has existed, after the Panthers and many of their rivals were formerly part of the now-defunct, 11-team Ohio River Lacrosse Conference. Among these consistent conference foes is Transylvania, who claimed the top spot in the poll with 24 points, including four of five first-place votes. The Blue and Red were the only other squad to capture a first place consideration. Anderson slotted third in the voting with 11 points, followed by Mount St. Joseph (10) and Earlham (9).
Last season, the Blue and Red finished second in the conference at 12-6 overall with a 7-3 slate in the HCLC. The Panthers' trio of league losses all came against Transylvania, with the last being a 14-8 defeat in the HCLC Tournament Championship on May 4. This marked the first time since 2014 that Hanover had a winning record, and was the first 10-plus win campaign for the Panthers. These accomplishments helped to vault first year head coach Jeff Roberts to HCLC Co-Coach of the Year honors.
Of 11 players that earned season awards from the HCLC, eight of them are returning this season. Sophomore Dirk Meinhart (Elizabethtown, Ky.) was named Newcomer of the Year for his performance as an attacker. In a deep group, Meinhart carved out a key role, en route to 22 goals, 12 assists and 34 points on the year. He became the first HC player to capture the award since Sam Green accomplished the feat for his .660 faceoff win percentage and 140 groundballs, which at the time stood as program records.
The first team was headlined by senior Noah King (Lexington, Ky.), who led the HCLC with 88 points and 43 assists. King's assist total broke the school mark set by Josh Green back in 2015, when he dished 34 dimes. King had a pair of double-digit outings, where he notched four goals and six helpers against Mount St. Joseph (Ohio) and Anderson (Ind.).
Both returning first team defenders, seniors Eric Clay (Wilmington, Del.) and Noah Dubrava (Centerville, Ohio), hold down critical positions. Clay earned honors as a long stick midfielder, particularly for his penchant in corralling groundballs. Clay broke the program record by scooping up 152 grounders on the season; at a rate of 8.44 per game, Clay slotted among the top 50 in NCAA Division III men's lacrosse.
Manning the net, Dubrava found his way onto the first team for the second consecutive year, and in all three years at Hanover he has been recognized by the conference. For the campaign, Dubrava had a .588 save percentage and an 8.61 goal against average, both of which ranked among the top 30 in the nation.
The Panthers had four players named to the conference second team: A trio of seniors in Patrick Boylston (Boca Raton, Fla.), Dallas Fonner (Evansville, Ind.), and Andrew Trachtman (Carmel, Ind.), along with junior Ian Kimmins (Dayton, Ohio). Kimmins spearheaded the conference with 62 scores and finished second in the league with 80 points. Boylston and Fonner each posted career-highs of 20 dimes, which ranked second on the squad. Boylston ended the season with 33 points, while Fonner had 48 points and a collegiate-best .377 shot percentage.
Trachtman landed on the second team defense for the third straight year, after causing 20 turnovers and grabbing 28 grounders in 2019. In 18 regular season games, Trachtman forced an error on 13 occasions.
Hanover will begin their season in a bout with Westminster (Pa.) at 12 p.m., Saturday, February 15.