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Boys lacrosse: Experience matters

Bethlehem seeks improvement following sub-.500 finish

Bethlehem’s Brad Bettinger, left, is closely guarded by a Colonie defender during a joint practice and scrimmage session Thursday. March 20, at Union College in Schenectady.

Bethlehem’s Brad Bettinger, left, is closely guarded by a Colonie defender during a joint practice and scrimmage session Thursday. March 20, at Union College in Schenectady. Photo by Rob Jonas.

— Can a year of experience make a big difference in the win-loss column? Bethlehem boys lacrosse coach Dave Rounds said that’s what he’s hoping for.

The Eagles return most of their starters from a 2013 squad that finished with a sub-.500 regular season record and an early exit from the Section II Class A playoffs. Rounds said that experience will make his team better this season, especially at the offensive end.

“It’s so hard to tell offensively where we are right now because we haven’t been outside that much,” said Rounds. “We should be better based on the number of guys we have back.”

The key to Bethlehem’s success lies with senior midfielder Brad Bettinger, who Rounds describes as a do-evertything player.

“He’s our best all-around player,” said Rounds. “He can score on offense, he can pass the ball and he can get back and help out on defense.”

On attack, Rounds said he’s looking for a big year from junior John Fredette.

“John Fredette has come a long way since last year, and we’re going to rely on him at attack to score some goals for us,” said Rounds.

Defensively, the Eagles will be sound once again. Junior Dan Comber – entering his third year as Bethlehem’s starting goaltender – will be flanked by a veteran long-stick group featuring seniors Sean Spellman, R.J. Santaski, Vincent Ferrera and Rob Wildermuth.

“Obviously, Dan is an exceptional goaltender, but our whole defense has a year of experience under it,” said Rounds.

Even with a veteran lineup, it may take a while for the Eagles to get their feet under them. A prolonged cold snap kept Bethlehem inside until last week while it waited for its fields to thaw.

“It’s been a tough spring for everyone,” said Rounds. “We’re going to have to push some games back at the start of the season, which means come May, we’ll have to play back-to-back games a couple of times. That’s where team depth is going to come in handy.”

Bethlehem is scheduled to start its season Thursday with a non-league game at Schenectady, which has an artificial turf field. The Eagles are then supposed to open their Suburban Council schedule Tuesday, April 1, by visiting Guilderland.

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