Men's Lacrosse Preview: Panthers Look to Experience in 2020

Men's Lacrosse Preview: Panthers Look to Experience in 2020

Written by Sports Information Student Assistant, Jake Sipes-Salter

HANOVER, Ind. - With the beginning of the 2020 Hanover men's lacrosse season less than a week away, it is time for the annual positional preview, where we will look at key returning contributors and introduce new additions to the respective positional groups.

ON THE ATTACK: The attackers are led by junior Ian Kimmins (Dayton, Ohio), who led the Heartland Collegiate Lacrosse Conference with 62 goals,and finished second in the league with 80 points. Kimmins was a two-time HCLC Player of the Week recipient last year, both highlighted by outings against Mount St. Joseph. On April 10 on the road, Kimmins tallied 10 points, with eight shots hitting the back of the net. When the Panthers hosted the Lions on April 20 for Senior Day, Kimmins once again had 10 points, this time on seven goals and three assists. His total for goals in a season surpassed the program record set by Josh Green in 2014. His campaign totals garnered him HCLC Second Team honors, his first recognition from the conference.

Adding to the mix is the 2019 HCLC Newcomer of the Year in sophomore Dirk Meinhart (Elizabethtown, Ky.), who totaled 34 points on 22 scores and 12 dimes. In a group that had a trio of players who could score consistently, Meinhart carved out a role defined by his hussle and athleticism. After a quiet start to the year, Meinhart registered points in 11 of the remaining 12 contests. In a come-from-behind victory against Westminster (Pa.) on March 24, Meinhart had a couple of very impressive goals: on one, he ran through a defender en route to the net, while on another he scooped up a pass from one of his teammates for a score as HC closed a multi-score gap.

Further adding to the attack's firepower is junior Jackson Wheeler (Indianapolis, Ind.), who scored 41 points on 29 goals and 12 helpers. Wheeler did not have the same volume as either Meinhart or Kimmins,but made up for it with a .507 shooting percentage that at one point in the year ranked amongst the leaders in NCAA Division III men's lacrosse. Wheeler had his best stretch of play in mid-April, where he had four straight appearances of four-plus points. Over that string of HCLC matchups, Wheeler totaled 21 points, with seven coming against MSJ on April 20.

Also chipping in is sophomore, transfer, Josh Perkins (San Diego, Calif.), who in 2019 registered 14 scores and 17 points while playing for Earlham College. After a season in Richmond where he split time between goalkeeping and the attack, Perkins will focus his efforts on the offensive side of the ball.

Joining the offensive core is freshman Michael Schaeper (Cincinnati, Ohio), who will look to provide an immediate impact.

MANNING THE MIDFIELD: This group is highlighted by senior Noah King (Lexington, Ky.), who paced the HCLC with 88 points and 43 assists. For his league-leading efforts, King was named to the HCLC First Team, earning him his first accolades from the conference. During the 2019 campaign, King had nine outings of five-plus points, including two contests of 10-plus points. His season total in assists (43) broke another program record, which was set by Josh Green back in 2015.

Further bolstering the group is, HCLC Second Team selection, senior Dallas Fonner (Evansville, Ind.), who tallied points in 16 of his 17 games played, and over his last 32 appearances, he has registered points on 31 occasions. His highest scoring output came against the Westminster Titans on March 24, when he zipped three shots past the goalie and distributed a trio of assists to aid in the victory. Fonner had his best season in many statistical categories, going for career-bests in points (48), goals (28), assists (20), and shooting percentage (.378).

Helping largely in distribution was senior Patrick Boylston (Boca Raton, Fla.), whose 20 assists tied him for second on the squad along with Fonner. Boylston added 13 scores for 33 points, with each of the aforementioned stats slotting as collegiate-highs. Boylston had perhaps his best outing against Adrian (Mich.) on February 26, when he dished out four dimes and added two goals for six total points.

Juniors Eric Hopkins (Evansville, Ind.) and Justin Wilson (Fishers, Ind.) round out the deep group. Hopkins has 20 career points, with 11 coming last year off of seven scores and four assists. Hopkins' best outing came in the HCLC Tournament Semifinals against Earlham, when he tallied two goals and rounded up eight groundballs. On the other hand, Wilson has eight career points, and last year jumped into the face-off rotation. Periodically coming in to take reps at the face-off "x", Wilson went 28-of-72, including an 11-for-16 line against Fontbonne (Mo.). In addition to his double-digit wins in the faceoff, Wilson added one of his three season scores.

DEFENSE AND GOALKEEPERS: The defenders and goalkeepers are both spearheaded by a pair of seniors in Eric Clay (Wilmington, Del.) and Noah Dubrava (Centerville, Ohio), who were each named to the HCLC First Team for their impressive 2019 campaigns. Clay received his first yearly honors from the conference after he totaled 32 caused turnovers and corralled 152 groundballs, with the latter total breaking the record set by Sam Green back in 2016. Clay had a pair of back-to-back performances that set different program marks, ranking him first in groundballs with 21 and caused turnovers at seven.

Dubrava earned his third honor from the conference and second consecutive HCLC First Team selection. The three-time HCLC Defensive Player of the Week award winner in 2019 posted a .588 save percentage and an 8.61 goal against average, with both slotting inside the top 30 in DIII lacrosse. Perhaps his most crucial performance came versus Westminster, when Dubrava had 11 saves in the second half and 15 total, which aided HC in their comeback at Alumni Stadium.

Another mainstay on the defense in senior Andrew Trachtman (Carmel, Ind.) comes into this year fresh off his third HCLC Conference award. Trachtman finished the campaign with 20 caused turnovers and 29 groundballs. Additionally, Trachtman posted a career-low in turnovers, as he gave the ball away just eight times. In 18 appearances, Trachtman forced an error in 13 contests, including six outings of two or more.

A pair of sophomore defenders in Jackson Parrish (Noblesville, Ind.) and Kyle Kaiser (Batavia, Ohio) will look to carve out roles for themselves after limited playing time their freshman seasons. Both Kaiser and Parrish had their best showings against Anderson on April 24. Parrish scooped up three groundballs and caused a trio of turnovers, while Kaiser tallied four grounders and one forced error.

Backing up Dubrava in the goal is sophomore Sean O'Meara (Lexington, Ky.), who totaled over 300 minutes in goal last year, primarily in relief of Dubrava, In his lone start versus North Central (Ill.) on March 30, O'Meara made 15 saves in goal and saved over 55 percent of the shots on goal.

Rounding out the defense are a pair of freshmen in Eli Jeffries (Evansville, Ind.) and Bryce Nokes (Jeffersonville, Ind.), who will look to make an immediate impact on a team that lost a pair of seniors in Evan Bartlett and Keaghan Holland following the end of last season.

The Panthers will kick off their season at 12 p.m., Saturday, February 15, when they travel to play former Ohio River Lacrosse Conference rival Westminster (Pa.).