2019 Men's Lacrosse Season Preview

2019 Men's Lacrosse Season Preview
The Oglethorpe men's lacrosse team returns to action this week, as they open their season Wednesday night against in-state opponent Piedmont in Demorest. The Stormy Petrels come off a 1-11 season in 2018, but look to have much more depth on the roster this time around and will try to use that to their advantage as they work their way through their SAA schedule.
The Petrels return eight players from last year's squad and welcome in 10 freshman newcomers, making for a nice mix of experience and incoming talent.
They'll have a new man between the pipes this season, as freshman Addison Irwin starts in goal after finishing third on the all-time Tennessee high school career saves leaderboard.
At defense, senior Andrew Kwapil returns to the Petrels. He enters the season just six caused turnovers away from setting the all-time SAA record in that department, as he currently sits on 91. He'll be joined by freshmen Collin Sides and Wyatt Jonske, and both should provide solid help at the position right off the bat. Senior Jibril Stapleton and freshman Braeden Bernhardt will handle long-stick midfield duties. Stapleton moves to LSM after posting four goals and four assists from the midfield as a junior. 
In the midfield, junior Jack Brand and freshman Michael Burdge will share faceoff duties and contribute on both sides of the ball. Sophomore Brian Green and freshman Trevon Burkhead will round out the midfield.
Junior returner Cameron Ritter anchors the attacking unit, while freshmen Thomas Clark and Andrew Collins will fill key roles at the position.
The Petrels are set to take part in an eight-game non-conference slate, which features all four teams that made the USA South conference tournament in 2018. They'll start with a matchup against Piedmont Wednesday at 7 p.m., then will take on Huntingdon in their home opener Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. They'll also host Methodist on March 7 at 4 p.m. and welcome Greensboro to the Oglethorpe Track and Field on March 16 at the same time. In addition to those four teams, the Petrels will also take on Averett, Concordia Chicago, Mount St. Joseph and Earlham.
In SAA play, the Petrels are set for another six-game grind. They'll play all three of their SAA home contests in a row, as they'll welcome Sewanee, Rhodes and Hendrix to Atlanta in a nine-day span. After that, they'll finish the regular season with three straight conference road games, traveling to visit Centre, Berry and Birmingham-Southern in the span of a week.
The Petrels look to break into the top six this season and qualify for the SAA tournament for the first time since the league reduced the field to that number.