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Starting strong

By Nebraska Lacrosse, 03/02/15, 3:00PM CST

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Cornhuskers kick off 2015 season with three wins, name team captains


Junior attackman Brett Willms (No. 1), senior midfielder Tom Gillan (No. 10) and senior defenseman Santo Marasco (No. 28) were named 2015 captains by the Nebraska coaching staff. Photos by Rod Adams Photography

It's safe to say the University of Nebraska-Lincoln lacrosse team was ready to start the season.

After a fall ball season during which the Cornhuskers went 1-3 while getting used to a new coaching staff and new systems as well as six weeks of practice, a Red/White Scrimmage and a cancelled game, Nebraska finally kicked off the season on Sunday, Feb. 22 with a 10-9 victory over Regis University.

Struggling to stay out of penalty trouble during the first two quarters and establish a tempo on offense, the Cornhuskers found themselves trailing Regis 4-3 at halftime.

Nebraska would respond with seven-straight goals to take a 10-4 lead during the fourth quarter. Once again, penalty minutes would provide Regis the opportunity to close the gap but the Cornhuskers managed to hold off a late rally by the Rangers for the win.


Nebraska sophomore attackman Zach Brown. Photo by Rod Adams Photography

Sophomore attackman Zach Brown (Omaha, Neb. / Millard West HS) tallied five goals to lead both teams in scoring in his first game as a Cornhusker after missing the 2014 campaign due to injury. Senior goaltender Max Jordan (Aurora, Ill. / Waubonsie Valley HS) made 16 saves including several crucial stops during the fourth quarter. Nebraska would finish the game with 16 penalty minutes.

Making an emphasis on limiting penalty minutes, the Cornhuskers had five short days to prepare for their next game on Saturday, Feb. 28 against Dordt College.

Nebraska jumped out to a 10-0 lead against the Sowers after the first quarter. Due to the threat of inclement weather and with Dordt already playing a game against Kansas State earlier that afternoon, the decision to move to a running clock for the final three quarters was agreed upon by both coaching staffs. Nebraska would win the game 22-3.


Nebraska junior attackman Brett Willms. Photo by Rod Adams Photography

Junior attackman Brett Willms (Houston, Texas / Kingwood HS) finished with five goals and two assists. Brown continued his hot streak with four goals and an assist. Sophomore attackman Justin DeFields (Bloomington, Ill. / Bloomington HS) contributed four goals and sophomore midfielder Caleb Millken (Lincoln, Neb. / Lincoln Southeast HS) scored three goals for his first career hat trick and went 15-of-18 on faceoffs.

With a quick turnaround, Nebraska hosted conference-foe Kansas State on Sunday, March 1.

Both teams seemed to be feeling each other out when an unfortunate series of events occurred with just over two minutes remaining in the first quarter and led to a Kansas State player being injured and requiring medical attention on the field. After the player's neck and spine were stabilized by paramedics and when he had been placed on the stretcher, both teams went over to show support and offer words of encouragement. According to the Kansas State Twitter account, the player was "up and moving" following the game and it is believe he was checked out of the hospital. The thoughts and prayers of the Nebraska lacrosse program are with him and the Cornhuskers hope he can be back on the field this season.

Following a short warm up period, the first quarter ended with Nebraska maintaining a 4-3 lead over the Wildcats. However, the last three quarters would belong to the Cornhuskers as Nebraska scored 19 goals on its way to a 23-5 victory over Kansas State and its first conference win.


Nebraska sophomore midfielder Caleb Milliken. Photo by Rod Adams Photography

Willms led all players in scoring with six goals and two assists. Senior midfielder Phil Ehrman (Lincoln, Neb. / Lincoln Southeast HS) notched three goals and had one assist. Milliken would score his second hat trick of the season in as many games and went 14 of 18 on faceoffs.

Next up for Nebraska (3-0, 1-0) is a pair of tough out-of-conference games against Minnesota State University-Mankato (0-2, 0-1) on Friday, March 6 at 8 p.m. and the University of Oklahoma (3-1, 1-0) on Sunday, March 8 at 12 p.m. Both games will be in the Cook Pavilion on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and admission will be free.

GAME NOTES

Senior defenseman Santo Marasco (Omaha, Neb. / Creighton Prep HS) has scooped up a total 31 ground balls in the first three games of the season and currently leads the team in that category ... Willms owns a 5.67 points per game average after scoring 12 goals and five assists in three games ... Milliken has already equaled his goal total (seven) from 15 games last year in just three games this season ... After amassing five penalty minutes in Nebraska's first game of the season, junior defenseman Luke Trevino (Marietta, Ga. / Lassiter HS) took to Twitter and accurately predicted he would have zero penalty minutes in the games against Dordt and Kansas State. Trevino has scooped up 20 ground balls so far this season including 11 in the last two games ... After amassing 16 total penalty minutes during the first game of the season, Nebraska had seven and half penalty minutes combined in the games against Dordt and Kansas State ... In the first three games of the season, Nebraska has outscored its opponents 55-17 ... Nebraska head coach Rob Mazanec earned his first career MCLA victory with the Cornhuskers' win over Regis.

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Choosing captains

Prior to Nebraska's season opener against Regis University, the coaching staff announced senior midfielder Tom Gillan (Lincoln, Neb. / Pius X HS), senior defenseman Santo Marasco (Omaha, Neb. / Creighton Prep HS) and junior attackman Brett Willms (Houston, Texas / Kingwood HS) would serve as team captains for the 2015 season.

Along with the three aforementioned players, at least one additional player will be chosen by the coaching staff and team captains to serve as a "game captain" prior to each game. Game captains are chosen based on a player's contributions on and off the field during the previous game as well as practices.

Sophomore attackman Zach Brown (Omaha, Neb. / Millard West HS) was chosen to serve as a game captain for the games against Regis and Dordt. Senior defenseman Kevan Reardon (Kansas City, Mo. / Park Hill South HS) also served as a game captain against Dordt. Senior midfielder Phil Ehrman (Lincoln, Neb. / Lincoln Southeast HS) was chosen as game captain for the Kansas State game.


Photos


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