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AU lacrosse program prepares for inaugural year

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

The trouble with being the first at anything is there is no history to use for comparisons.

So for Brendan Dawson, Aurora University men’s lacrosse coach, thoughts of what he has coming back from last year simply do not exist since this will be AU’s maiden voyage in the sport.

There are indications the Spartans, who open the season Saturday at the College of Wooster, might be pretty good. AU dominated both Illinois State University and Judson in recent scrimmages.

“We did well in the scrimmages but we saw some things that we need to work on,” Dawson said.

Dawson, a graduate of Salisbury College where he was a member of four (2 as a player and 2 as an assistant coach) NCAA Division III national championship teams, was given the job of starting the AU program in June of 2009 and has spent the last 20 months recruiting and formulating his plans.

What he has assembled is a roster of 37 players which is laced with 31 freshmen. That could mean that finding a leader on the field will become a hurdle to leap.

“Absolutely,” Dawson said. “We don’t have a consistent leader and we need someone to step up. But, it’s hard for a freshman to do that. That will definitely be a challenge. Our coaching staff will try to be that leader.”

While it is way too early to pick out standouts, Dawson has a pretty good idea which players are likely to be scorers and which players are going to key the AU defense.

Freshman Adam Holka (6-6, 270) is likely to start at goalie for the Spartans and he’ll have sophomore Wells Lifka (Benet Academy) and freshman Corbin Loubert flanking him in the back line.

AU will look for freshman Garret Rosiek in the attack with freshmen Jack Meachum (Naperville North), Andrew Miller and Justin Bose, along with sophomore Sean Keough, working as midfielders.

Others are certain to make their mark before the season comes to a close with the Midwest Lacrosse Conference Tournament May 7-8.

Although Dawson recruited nationally, he does have 16 players from Illinois. Besides Meachum and Lifka, there are junior goalie Cameron Wisniowicz (West Aurora), freshman Pat Diorka (Waubonsie Valley), freshman Cooper O’Brien (St.Charles North), freshman Tyler Thomas (St. Charles East), freshman Vincent Trombeta (Bartlett), freshman Chase Peterson (Barrington), freshman Nathan Marcy (Leyden), junior Curtis Williams (Morris) and junior Derek Morrison (Flossmoor).

And, Dawson has five freshmen — Kurtis Simonich, Zachary Weaver, Adam McAtee, Dylan Walker, Phil Vertin — from Minooka.

“I’m excited by the kids we have. We tried to find the kids we thought were good players,” Dawson said. “We have a lot of guys that are working hard and they’ve bought into it. Our guys are young but they are coachable.”

One huge plus in AU’s favor is being in a conference the first year out of the box.

“It’s great, it’s awesome,” Dawson said. “It’s a benefit (because) it helps us with recruiting and gets us an automatic bid (in 2012) to the nationals.”

After playing their first six games on the road, the Spartans will kick off their home season at 4 p.m. on March 30 when they’ll play host to Trine.

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