Men’s lacrosse wins in convincing fashion

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By: Matt Wegh, Managing Editor

The Illinois Wesleyan Men’s lacrosse team took a team-record 103 shots in their Sunday, Feb. 25 win at home versus Wittenberg College.
The Titans converted on 26 of these shots, leading to a 26-12 victory over the visiting Tigers, improving to 2-0 on the season and 1-0 at Tucci Stadium.
Through their two games this season, the Titans are averaging 27.5 goals per game.
To put that number in perspective, according to laxpower.com the average men’s DIII lacrosse game has between 17 and 20 goals scored in total.

As in both teams, combined.

Though the 27.5 ppg average will likely drop as the season progresses, it is not far from their Division III leading 19.5 per contest that they averaged throughout the entire 2017 season.
Seniors James Maibuecher and Nick Winter were big contributors to last season’s success, and figure to be key components to the offense this season.
The dynamic duo’s first performance at Tucci Stadium did not disappoint: Maibuecher led the team with eight points, scoring five goals and assisting on three, and Winter was second with seven points, netting three goals and assisting on four.
Maibuecher’s performance earned him CCIW Offensive Player of the Week honors for week two of this season.
Maibuecher and Winter were also responsible for the first two goals in the game versus Wittenberg, scoring early and in exciting fashion.
Two goals by Maibuecher, two assists by Winter, separated by only 30 seconds of gametime to start the scoring barrage.
“With the fast-paced offense we run, we catch a lot of teams off guard when we push it super fast to start,” Maibuecher said.

The early scoring rush for the Titans propelled them to a comfortable 13-5 halftime lead.
Freshman Tanner Nelson and sophomore Alex Doorenbos played crucial roles in the victory, with six and five points, respectively.
“Dobo [Doorenbos] and Tanner have made big impacts on the offensive side of the ball filling in for some of the 13 seniors that graduated,” Winter said, “We have a lot of young guys playing big roles for us this year, but it doesn’t mean anything changes for us as players.”
In order for an offensive explosion like this to happen, the offense needs to have the ball. Cue the defense and faceoff units.

Though they lack the pizzazz of offensive statistics, any lacrosse coach will tell you that games are won and lost by a team’s “special teams” statistics.
These include things that are not offensive or defensive, like the ground ball differential, faceoff wins and clearing the ball from the defensive zone after a stop.
Led by junior faceoff specialist J.C. Grabarek, the Titans prevailed in all three of these categories.
Grabarek’s 17 ground balls were the most for IWU, as the team almost doubled up Wittenberg’s ground ball total 61-32. He also went 23-27 on faceoffs, following a CCIW Defensive Player of the Week performance in the season opener against Alma College, where he went 22-25.
The defense was also able to clear effectively, getting the ball out of the zone 15 out of 15 times.
Clearing 100 percent of the time is almost unheard of.
The Titans will not need these kinds of numbers every game, but performing well early in the season is a step in the right direction.
“J.C. has been huge for us on faceoffs,” Maibuecher said, “and even with how young the defense is, so far they have been playing with a lot of confidence.”
The confidence and level of play on the defense allows IWU to play their style of offense.
“We’re known for our gritty, fast paced attitude. We win by outworking and outscoring the opposition,” Winter said.

The team looks to continue their run next Tuesday, March 6 when the Blue Streaks of John Carroll University visit Tucci Stadium.
“The ultimate goal is a National Championship,” Maibuecher said, “Looking back at last year, we saw what a National Championship caliber team looked like against Denison, and I feel like we can be there by May.”