Weekend of 3/30-3/31 recap

This weekend we traveled to Grand Rapids, MI and Kalamazoo, MI to take on CLC West opponents Davenport and Western Michigan, in games that held postseason implications.

On Saturday, we took on a Davenport team with a dangerous offense and solid defense and unfortunately fell 18-10.

On Sunday we bounced back with a 17-11 win over Western Michigan, with success on the offensive and defensive ends, as well as in transition and at the faceoff X. The defense’s lock-down second half, and the offense capitalizing on an array of man-up opportunities were key in a solid team win. The victory secured Pitt the 3rd seed in the CLC West, booking a trip to Taunton, MA for the CLC tournament at the end of the month.

We take on fellow Pennsylvanian institution Temple University on Friday, April 5th at 8pm in the Pitt Sports Dome. This year marks the last year Temple Men’s Lacrosse will be a member of the NCLL, and will be joining the MCLA as well as the CLC Conference in 2020. We welcome them to the conference and look forward to many years of healthy competition… I-76 Rivalry??

2019 So Far

Panther Fans,

As we enter and traverse the back half of the 2019 season, we wanted to provide an update on the Pitt Men’s Lacrosse team’s 2019 campaign thus far, and what the future holds moving forward.

Support

Before we dive in to scores, records, stats, etc, we’d like to begin with a mighty thank you to all of the family, friends, and alumni that have supported us the entire way, specifically up in Michigan and at the Battle of Baltimore to support us. It’s huge to have the 11th man on our side, whether it be home or away. Additionally, this year’s Pitt Day of Giving was one to remember and can be categorized as a complete success. We fundraised $5K that will be used for much needed additions to the program. To anyone who donated, we cannot express enough our gratitude.

Season Results - The Journey Thus Far

During the cold month of February, we had tough losses to ranked teams in Minnesota, Boston College and CLC West rival Michigan State. However, we rebounded in our second weekend with a gritty win over a tough Purdue team.

After falling to a talented Buffalo squad, we took on Elon and CLC West opponent Central Michigan, winning both.

This past weekend, we competed in the fantastic annual Battle for Baltimore tournament at the John Carroll School, where we handily defeated George Washington University and took care of business against East Carolina, improving to a 5-4 record.

From a stats perspective, many of our Panthers have excelled thus far this year. At the Attack position, David McVey, Michael Stephenson, Erik Dash, Bennett Nakao, Ryan Holochuck, and Tom Gallen have proven dangerous. Collectively, the unit accounts for 63 points of production.

At the Midfield, veterans and rookies have begun to merge into a formidable unit. Dan Wasson, Zach Romac, Dan Bullitt, Cole Burden, Jimmy Wilkinson, and Tim Fitzgerald have all produced at high levels resulting in 63 points of production.

On the defensive side of the ball, Brian McCaffrey proves to be one of the most versatile players in the MCLA. The Junior LSM is responsible for 43 gb’s, 8 points on 4 goals and 4 assists, and .50% at the faceoff x. Down low, Alex Keough, Ty Tracy, Tim Bowers, and Sean Culhane have been lock down, playing a very physical brand of lacrosse resulting in 55 gb’s and numerous caused turnovers.

From a special teams perspective, our SSDM’s and F/O units have been relied on heavily all year long. SSDM’s Luke Newton, Casey Repcheck, and David Wasson have played huge roles on the defensive side of the ball as well as the clearing game. F/O specialists Zach Smith, Alex Gonzalez, and Antonio Cucciuffo have been warriors at the faceoff X, resulting in a combined 108 wins, 83 losses for a .565% F/O winning percentage.

In between the pipes, Goalies Michael Gonzalez and Sean Tierney have played huge games all year long. Gonzalez accounting for 60 saves with a .588% save percentage and Tierney with 41 saves with a .547% save percentage.

Coach Wilfong had this to say about the Pitt squad thus far, “Despite a tough start, we have shown a lot of resilience and grit thus far and have continuously improved in every game we have played. Make no mistake, every game is important, but we are playing our best lacrosse when it matters most. We’ve been in some tough battles and look forward to continuing competing every chance we get.” Coach also had this to say, “What I like most about our team is how balanced we are. We are not a one man offense or defense. Everyone pitches in and embraces the next man up mentality. We have 12 guys on our squad with 5 points or more. If one guys is struggling or being shut down, we got 5 other guys that play at a high level you need to worry about. I believe that makes us dangerous.”

Season To Come - The Road Ahead

This weekend, we head to Michigan to take on CLC West opponents Davenport and Western Michigan. This is a huge weekend for us, as both games have playoff implications on the line.

Next weekend we face off against Temple, and in our final weekend of the regular season, we compete in the annual Backyard Brawl against West Virginia, both games being played in Pittsburgh.

We expect to take care of business and compete in the CLC Tournament in Taunton, MA the weekend of April 26th, with a chance for a bid in the national tournament in Salt Lake City, UT.

Thank you again for all your support, and Hail to Pitt!!!

Your 2019 Pitt Men’s Lacrosse Captains

Clockwise from top left: Romac, Wasson, McCaffrey, and Burden

Clockwise from top left: Romac, Wasson, McCaffrey, and Burden

We are thrilled to announce the selection of our team captains for the 2019 season:

Seniors Dan Wasson, Cole Burden, and Juniors Zach Romac and Brian McCaffrey have been nominated Captains for the upcoming season.

“Very excited to have these four guys leading our program. They are solid group that push our program to the next level everyday. With that said, we have an incredibly strong group of leaders amongst our upperclassmen. The mantle of leadership goes far beyond just these four guys” said Coach Wilfong.

Returning as a captain this year is junior midfielder, and team president, Zach Romac. The Glenshaw, PA native was second on the team in points last year and looks to continue to lead on both sides of the ball.

Also returning as a captain is senior midfielder, Dan Wasson of Springfield, PA. Fourth on the team in points in 2018, Wasson’s veteran experience and leadership will be a large part of the offense going into the spring.

Buffalo, NY native Cole Burden, also a midfielder, led the team in assists in 2018. He brings a Western New York grit to the offense, and looks to sustain his scoring productivity going into the 2019 season.

Long Island, NY product Brian McCaffrey is a junior LSM who pushes the tempo and applies a ton of pressure to opposing offenses. He looks to lead a defense that returns a strong combination of veterans and rookies this season.

Welcoming back the Rattners

The University of Pittsburgh men’s lacrosse program is excited to announce the return of Rich Rattner and Nate Rattner back to the staff for the upcoming 2018-2019 season. Both Rattners will assume Assistant Coaching roles and will directly oversee the defensive side of the ball, as well as other aspects of the team.

“I am thrilled to welcome back both Coach Rich Rattner and Coach Nate Rattner back to the Pitt Men’s Lacrosse staff. The two of them are high character people that bring a lot of experience and knowledge to our program,” says Head Coach Zach Wilfong.

“Our program will benefit tremendously from having these two veteran coaches, especially considering they both have previous coaching experience specifically with our student-athletes. At the end of the day, fostering great relationships is one of the most important things that we can do as a coaching staff. The relationships that the Rattners have built throughout the Pitt Men’s Lacrosse program are invaluable and we look to continue to foster more relationships moving forward.”  

Rich Rattner returns to the Panthers’ coaching staff after spending the past several years as the Defensive Coordinator. Since 2013, Coach Rattner has implemented multiple defensive schemes and oversaw all defensive positions including goalies. Additionally under his guidance, the team has received over 20 all league defensive awards. Prior to the University of Pittsburgh, Coach Rattner spent 20+ years coaching defense at local high school, Shady Side Academy.

Nate Rattner returns for his second season with the Panthers after spending the past season serving in a variety of roles. In addition to working closely with the defense, Nate controlled the box during scrimmages and games, as well as overseeing scout and film overview/breakdowns.  Nate was a goalie at nearby DIII Washington Jefferson College, where he graduated in 2015.

Introducing Offensive Coordinator Zack Rusch

The University of Pittsburgh men’s lacrosse program is excited to announce the hiring of Zack Rusch as new Assistant Coach for the 2018-19 season, assuming the role of Offensive Coordinator.

“I couldn’t be more excited to have Coach Rusch join the staff and become part of our program,” says Pitt Coach Zach Wilfong. “Zack will bring a lot to the table and become a very influential piece of our staff. I am confident in his ability to coach, mentor, and guide our young student-athletes. In the time that I have come to know Zack, it is evident that he has a passion for the game and possesses strong leadership capabilities.”

Rusch joins the Panthers after graduating from nearby Seton Hill (Pa.) University, one of NCAA Division II's power programs. Rusch was a standout midfielder for the Griffins, significantly contributing to the team’s offense and overall success. For his efforts, he was recognized as a USILA DII 1st Team All American during his senior year and participated in the DI/II North/South All Star Game. During his 4 seasons, Rusch tallied 142 career points, 90 goals and 52 assists.

Rusch is a Pittsburgh native, growing up in the Bethel Park area. While there, he was a standout Football and Lacrosse player for Bethel Park High School.

Rusch graduated from Seton Hill University in the Spring of 2017 with a BA Degree.

Introducing Head Coach Zach Wilfong

The Pitt Men’s Lacrosse team is excited to announce the hiring of Zach Wilfong as our new Head Coach.

Most recently, Wilfong was the Offensive Coordinator at Division II’s Seton Hill University. During his two seasons with SHU, he helped lead the Griffins to a 29-6 record, the nation’s #1 ranked offense, two GMAC Conference Championships, and a national semifinal appearance; doing this while simultaneously earning his Master of Business Administration from Seton Hill. Throughout his time at Seton Hill, he directly coached several NCAA DII USILA All-Americans, as well as the 2018 GMAC Offensive Player of the Year.

Prior to Seton Hill, Wilfong played a crucial role in developing a program at Division III’s Ohio Northern University. At ONU, he assisted the lacrosse team in their inaugural year, serving as a Recruiting Coordinator and Primary Assistant Lacrosse Coach, while helping the team achieve a winning record of 8-7 during the 2016 season.

He also spent time as Carnegie Mellon University’s Head Coach and Central Catholic High School’s Offensive Coordinator.

As a player, Wilfong was a standout attackman at Saint Vincent College. He was a four-year starter, three-year captain, and one of the top all-time scorers in school history. After his senior year, he was selected to play in the USILA DIII North-South Game.

We are thrilled to have Zach Wilfong at the helm, and are excited about the passion for the game, high lacrosse IQ, and cultural focus that he brings to our program.

Hail to Pitt!