Thursday, April 19, 2018

2018 End of Regular Season
I know that it has been a long time since my last update, but who reads blogs anymore anyways....

If you are still reading, I thank you and it has been an incredible ride so far.  We have taken such tremendous strides over not only this past year, but during our 8 short years as a program.  As it stands today, April 19th, 2018 we are currently sitting at #17 in the Southern Division of all D3 Schools.  We are ranked over traditional powerhouses Stevenson and Washington College and really picking up steam.  We finished the 2018 season with a record of 12-3 overall and the #2 seed in the SAA tournament.  We were able to beat Sewanee 14-12 last weekend to secure that spot and will play host to the winner of this Fridays game between the Hendrix/Sewanee game, and if all goes well advance to the Championship next weekend of April 28th (my birthday).  I could not dream of a better gift to not only receive, but give my first recruited class of Seniors.  It has been a wild and crazy 4 years with these guys and I am incredibly proud of the transformation these young-men have made and I know that they are going to be successful in Business and Life.
  This past seasons journey has been one filled with challenges and adversity as not only a coaching staff, but a team.  In the Fall we found out that our lockerroom was going to be under construction for the duration of the season, which will be nice once it is completed here in mid-May, but has posed some challenges for the guys.  We have since been relocated to the Men's Soccer Locker room which as you can imagine is a little tight.  Additionally, it is on the other side of our 'Worlds Largest Campus' and has provided some logistical problems.  Rather than complain, we embraced it and made Thursday night a jog to and from practice night, where both myself and the other coaches join in the jog.  Our early season saw some injuries and some disciplinary actions by myself that kept our roster in constant shuffle but we were able to win all of the games that we knew we could, a couple that took us to the next level, and one against 15th Nationally ranked Christopher-Newport where we lost a heart breaker 10-9.  This would have propelled us into the National Top 20, which is an ultimate goal of my own.  Even though we lost this one, we rebounded with a solid series of home games against some Mid-West competition in Aurora, Carthage, and Concordia-Wisc.  Two of these three teams play in the NCAA post-season annually and we were able to win all three of them in front of an outstanding home crowd.
  We then began SAA Conference play and had a small hiccup against a tough Rhodes team which forced me to shave my long beard and start fresh, but we haven't looked back since.  Given the opportunity to play them again in the Championship, I know my guys would perform better.  
  This season has taken us to Austin, TX , Savannah, GA , Charlotte, NC for outside competition and have fared incredibly well.  We have certainly taken great strides in putting Berry College Lacrosse on the National map and are not satisfied.  It is a pleasure working with these guys and this is a very special team.
  Thanks for reading and keeping tabs on the Vikings and I hope that you will be able to come and see us still playing in the coming weeks of the Post-Season.  
  Talk again soon!  - Curtis Gilbert , Head Coach Berry College

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Mid-Season Reflection
It's been a while since I last updated this blog, but wanted to take a moment and reflect on the 1st third of our season.  The title of this is a little off, because I feel that we have still 2/3 of a season in front of us.  The first 1/3 of non-conference play has left us at (7-2) for the first time in our programs history.  The second 1/3, and most important portion, begins this Saturday where we play Centre College to continue SAA play.  

Our season kicked off with a solid win over Huntingdon College where we hosted the Hawks and defeated them 20-6, and then traveled to in-state opponent Piedmont College for a Friday night tilt.  Atlanta traffic was tough and we arrived with only 45 minutes to game-time, but were able to walk away with a win 14-8 over a much improved squad.  We then hopped back on the bus and drove into the night to Charlotte, NC where we stayed at a Hilton for the weekend.  On Sunday we played Hampden-Sydney College and should have won the game.  We went neck and neck for 50 minutes, but for a 10 minute spell in the 3rd quarter we stopped sliding defensively and gave up some points.  Equally frustrating on the day were the 8 pipes that we hit.  Statistically, their Goalie was credited with 12 saves (4 saves, 8 pipes) and we lost by a slim margin of 14-11.

After suffering our first loss of the season, it was also our first opportunity to really grow and get better and attacked our approach to Colorado College with determination.  We flew out to Denver, CO and then bused it to Colorado Springs on Thursday and played them at 6,107 ft of elevation on Saturday at 1:00 RMT.  It was a great game and we had the JUICE in the 4th quarter that was hard to match.  For a look at our highlights click HERE for our YouTube.

After the Colorado College game we trounced through Oglethorpe and hosted NCAA Tournament qualifier Otterbein University.  Alum, Jordan Boreman is an Assistant at OTU and it was great to beat him in Valhalla 13-8.  YouTube highlights can be found HERE.  We then tried to focus on Wittenberg the following Friday at 4:00 but found ourselves already on the bus to Florida for Spring Break and lost a very winnable game 15-12, before leaving at 8:00 a.m. for Spring Break.

Our Spring Break 2017 featured what you have come to expect in nice locations, good competition, bowling, and 'High Roller' fun.  This year was no different as we face NE opponent Salve Regina in Tampa University's stadium and won convincinly 17-8.  We then trained a couple more days before playing another NE foe in Nichols College and won 16-7.  Click Here for YouTube Highlights.

So as you can see, we have been working hard, but not hard enough, and have won some games, but not the ones that will get us in the NCAA tournament....yet.  Our goal is to win the SAA conference and get the Automatic Qualifier to the Tournament where we can really make some noise.

And I know we are going to do just that!
Talk again soon.
-Curtis Gilbert

Monday, September 5, 2016

  2017 Thoughts

  I am very excited for the upcoming season and everything that it has to offer.  I know that this is the way every season should begin, but this one feels different.  It could be because it is the first time here at Berry that all four years of players on the team have only worked with me and my staff.  It could also possibly be that there is a feeling within the team that they know they could have been more competitive in last years big games in hindsight and are eager to show their improvements.  However, it is an overwhelming feeling that we are really starting to gain some traction in many facets we were working to improve.  We are not only attracting some recruits that wouldn't have called us back a couple of years ago, but we continue to turn new heads as we improve our schedule and continually hover in the top 3 teams in the SAA conference.  I have never been more confident that we have a legitimate chance to return to Championship Sunday and win the Conference this season.  I feel that we have a solid blend of old and new talent at every position and for the first time since I've been here, our Returning class is larger that our Rookie class.

  Our Senior class is outstanding right now, and our Captain Quentin Johnson is doing a terrific job of leading the helm so far.  These guys have experienced it all over four years, and having been in a one-goal Championship game as Sophomores know how to handle big time games.
  Additionally, I am excited to see what our Freshmen class can do this Fall.  We have brought in some solid talent at every position that should complement our upperclassmen nicely.  One thing that worked out a little funny this year is we had 5 Goalies want to join the program.  Two of them were recruited hard by the staff and the others were hard to turn away, especially since our history of Goalies quitting in the Fall.  We did lose our Senior starting Goalie this week in Zach McConnell who will have to forgo his final year due to back problems, so it is kind of a blessing that we have 5 Freshmen to compete for an open net.  We also received news that 1st Team All-State attackmen Michael Fredlock will have to hang up his gloves due to concussion issues, so our losses continue before the first day of practice begins.

  Thanks for checking in and I will do a better job of keeping everyone updated this year, but for now we are undefeated, and working hard to stay that way!
  Talk again soon.

-Curtis Gilbert

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Fall Line-Up of Events

Sat. Sept. 18th - Advanced Skills Camp I
Sun. Sept. 18th - 'Rookie vs. Returner' game
Sat. Sept. 24th - Berry Football vs. Sewanee
Sun. Oct. 2nd - 2nd Annual Alumni game 11:00 a.m.
Sun. Oct. 16th - 
6th Annual Berry College Pumpkin Classic 7v7
Sun. Oct. 16th - Berry College 'High Steaks' Blue vs. White Scrimmage
Sat. Oct. 22nd -Wounded Warrior Project's Face-Off for a Cause

Sat. Oct. 29th - Berry Football vs. Millsaps
Sun. Nov. 12th - 
Advanced Skills Camp II

Any Recruits looking to visit, these are THE ONLY dates we will be hosting this Fall.  You are always welcome to stop by during the week, but we hope these dates can accommodate both of our busy schedules.  Talk soon!

2016-2017 Recruiting Class Announced 
 This year’s class of Men’s Lacrosse recruits includes twenty-one athletes from ten different states.  Coach Gilbert could not be more excited for the incoming class and explains, “the class of 2020 is here to fill in the holes due to major graduation losses from the past two years.”  This is a diverse group of talent that includes four attackmen, eight defensemen, five goalies and four midfielders. 

  The Vikings graduated their All-time ground ball leader in Christian Akers and Co –Scoring leader Jake Emche who shot 44% on the season in 2016.  One of the biggest losses will be Goaltender Nick Voso, who finished his career off with a 60.2 % save percentage ranking him 9th Nationally among all goalies in DIII in 2016.

  The 2016-17 Vikings squad will face 4 teams that played in the Post-Season in ’16 and will rely upon a balanced mixture of returning talent and incoming impact players to return to the SAA Championship game.  “Our expectations are that with this talented incoming class, blending with our returning talent, we absolutely feel we can win an SAA Championship this season,” explains Coach Gilbert.

Incoming Lacrosse Recruits:  (in alphabetical order)
Aaser, Eric                  Knoxville, TN             L&N Stem Academy, TN       Attack
Bradley, Hudson        Lexington, KY            Henry Clay, KY                      Defense
Brogdon, Riley           Lawrenceville, GA      Mountain View, GA               Goalie 
Bosworth, Landon     Orlando, FL                William R. Boone, FL            Defense/​LSM
Canfield, Sean            Orlando, FL                Lake Highland Prep, FL       Midfield
Cantoral, Dylan         Carrollton, GA           Carrollton, GA                       Goalie           
Caswell, James          Austin, TX                  Westlake, TX                           Defense/​LSM
Coleman, Max           Huntsville, AL             Huntsville, AL                       Goalie           
Druelinger, Sam        Germantown, TN       Houston, TN                           Defense/​LSM            
Estes, Mitch               Havertown, PA           Haverford, PA                        Defense                      
Fredlock, Michael     Lexington, KY            Henry Clay, KY                     Attack
Grafmeyer, Kyle       Bethesda, MD              Landon, MD                          Goalie 
Johnson, Cole            Alpharetta, GA           Chattahoochee, GA               LSM               
Koferl, Luke              Huntersville, NC        Lake Norman/​Mt. Olive        Attack      
Maggio, Joe                Buford, GA                Buford, GA                            Midfield/​Defense     
Mitchell, Miles           Hendersonville, TN   Hendersonville, TN               Midfield/​Attack
Murphy, Kevin           Vero Beach, FL         St. Edwards, FL                     Goalie
Sale, Evan                   Detroit, MI                Detroit Jesuit, MI                  Attack
Tatum, Matt               Avondale, GA            Decatur, GA                           Attack
Wilson, Ryan             Suwanee, GA              North Gwinnett, GA             Defense
Zakacia, Nick             Johns Creek, GA       Chattahoochee/​UMass-Lowell   Defense         

You can find more information on each of these athletes by visiting our recent press release by clicking HERE.

The Berry College Men’s Lacrosse will begin action this Fall on September 18th with their first day of practice culminating in the annual 'Rookie vs. Returner' game on Saturday September 24th, where we can find out just how good these rookies really are....
Spring Break and SAA Conference Play

  Having taken some lumps and growing pains in February, the Vikings were eager to continue to play high level out-of conference opponents in early March and carry their momentum into SAA Conference play.  
  The first game in March was against SAA opponent Oglethorpe University where the Vikings outscored them 18-1, before heading out for Spring Break.  Berry first faced Transylvania University in Lexington, KY where they beat their opponent 10-5 despite Coach Gilbert being ejected from the game in the 4th quarter for his 'team cheering too loudly' when killing a 3-man down penalty.
  With Coach Gilbert forced to stay behind at the Embassy Suites due to his ejection penalty, Coach Peterson and Byers captained the helm in a nail-biting 7-6 loss against NCAA Tournament finalist, John Carroll University in their next game.  
  The Vikings Spring Break trip then continued through Baltimore, MD where the team practiced at both Coach Gilbert's High School in Hereford and Johns Hopkins University, before heading out to face his alma matter Washington College in Chestertown, MD.  It was a close first half with a score of 4-2 at the half, but the 100 year storied program proved too much for the Vikings in the second half.
  The Vikings returned to Mt. Berry, GA ready to run in the SAA tournament and despite an early hiccup with Centre College and their 11 seniors, the Berry squad again rebounded nicely with a quality 10-3 win at Hendrix.  The Vikings youth proved to be the achilles heel in the next two games and came up one-goal short against Rhodes and a couple more against Sewanee.  
  The remainder of the season found the Vikings hyper-focused on both securing wins, but also keeping their goals against average low in anticipation for the 3-way tie scenario forecasted for the SAA playoffs.  The diligence paid off when the regular season concluded and the dust settle with Berry College boasting the lowest defensive goals against criteria satisfied to secure a hard-earned third place finish to the regular season.
  The SAA Playoffs featured a first-round rematch of Berry College vs. Hendrix where the BC squad again came out victorious with a 10-6 victory.  The following week the Vikings returned to Mount Eagle to play Centre College in the SAA semi-finals, but their experienced senior class of 11 proved too much for the Vikings squad fielded by 50% freshmen.

  "Overall, I am not happy with the outcome of our season (8-9), however I do know that we took significant strides gaining both National recognition, as well as developing young talent that will prove invaluable in the future," Gilbert explains.  "I know I've said it before, but some teams can boast a record of 8-0 out of conference, but where will that really take you.  I want to play the best competition all of the time, and will always schedule the toughest teams possible, because I know it will all pay off in our Conference play."  Gilbert added "I think we went about as far as we could have this year, and I am okay with that, but our 2017 team will much better because of who we played this year, and with whom we put on the field."
February Wrap-Up

  The young Vikings have wrapped up their toughest February in program history.  These out-of-conference contests weathered the Vikings and will prepare them for a strong SAA run despite their 2-3 losing record.  February's contests began when the young Vikings hosted Colorado College who had beat BC 10-0 in 2015.  Berry jumped out to a 2-0 score and trailed 5-4 at the half.  Despite losing 14-8 to the Tigers who advanced to the NCAA tournament, they proved that the 2016 team is a formidable one.  Two days later, Berry avenged the loss with a 17-9 win over Methodist, who was coached by Berry College's former Assistant Zach Nedbalski and alumni Max Smerka.
  The Vikings then played host to #15 ranked Roanoke and took their lumps often against the storied program.  "It was certainly an eye opener for our 15 freshmen," explained Coach Gilbert.  "I want Roanoke and teams like them on the schedule to show us the level that we need to play at to be a National force.  We are certainly competitive in the SAA, but I want to be competitive on a National level," Gilbert added.  
  Again, Berry bounced back with a win against their in-state opponent, Piedmont with a 12-3 win which featured 6 different scorers.  The following weekend the Vikings took an 11 hour ride North to face #4 ranked Denison University, where Coach Gilbert had previously coached as an Assistant, however the Big Red were too much for the Vikings and handed them their 3rd loss of the month.  Denison went on to advance to the NCAA Semi-Finals before falling to National Champion Salisbury University.

  "February is a time to mature and get more competitive, and while some programs would be happy with an undefeated record, I would rather play in championships and these games help us take steps in that direction,"  Gilbert explained.  He then added "it's not how you play in the beginning of the year, as much as how you are playing at the end of April that matters the most to me."

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Men's Lax Prepares for Season Opener

  In only 3 short weeks,  Berry College Lacrosse has wrapped up their Pre-Season and are eagerly awaiting both their Season and Home - Opener this Friday February 12th against Colorado College.  In 2015, the Vikings were outscored 10-0 against the Tigers and look to improve on last years performance.

  The Vikings feel battle tested and ready for the upcoming challenge after a series of Pre-Season scrimmages.  After beginning practice on Monday January 18th they traveled to Florida State University four short days later to scrimmage both FSU and Division II Florida Southern.  The young Vikes' took their lumps and learned from their mistakes before facing cross-town rival and another Division II opponent in Shorter University the following weekend.  Both experiences proved valuable to the Vikings and pointed out some areas that need improvement.

  The finals scrimmages of the Pre-Season were held last weekend Feb 5th and 6th where Friday nights game featured a Blue v. White game selected by Captains Garrett Miller and Jake Emche with the victor earning the prestigious 'cooler' filled with Capri Suns and candy bars unbeknownst to both teams.  Saturdays rematch in the "ManMaker Game" was hotly contested with the victory again coming by way of the Offensive team captained by Senior Attacker Jake Emche.

  After 3 weeks of intense practicing and conditioning, last nights practice (Tues) was equally competitive and has the 2016 Vikings squad poised and ready to play host this weekend to Colorado College on Friday at 3:30 and again on Sunday at 1:00 pm vs. Methodist College.

  The Sunday Methodist game features both sibling rivalry and coaches 'returning home'.  The Methodist College squad coached by Zach Nedbalski, was the former Assistant Coach at Berry College in its fledgling years and he is assisted by Berry '15 alumni Max Smerka.  Methodist College also features Jake Smerka and Chris Lombardi, both of whom are younger brothers to Berry '15 alumni Max Smerka and Kyle Lombardi.

  Alumni will be in full force this weekend as the Vikings host both contests in their brand-new state of the art facility Valhalla Stadium.

  I hope you too will be able to join us in the excitement and Go Vikings!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Spring Dates Added!
These include a Scrimmage and Skills Camp Day

  In some late breaking developments I wanted to share with our Blog followers that we have recently added two excited events to our Spring line-up in 2016.

  First is our Round-Robin scrimmages with Florida State University and Florida Southern at FSU in Tallahassee on January 23rd.  We will leave the day before and head South for this opportunity.  

  We couldn't be more excited about this opportunity, as it 'dangles the carrot' a little bit closer for everyone.  January 18th we will start practice and 5 days later Scrimmage!

  We have also added a second event to our line-up and will feature our last Advanced Skills Camp of the season, where you have the option to interact with both the Coaching Staff and some of the Berry Lacrosse players through College level skills and drills.  This is similar to a prospect day, with the intentions of preparing yourself for the upcoming season and beyond, it just lacks the 'song and dance' of organized tours and meetings with admissions.

  For more information about our Skills Camp, please click:  Here

  Hope that you will all be able to see us in action this Spring and look forward to having you on campus soon.
Fall Wrap - Up

  Wow!  What a Fall.  Where do we even start.
  We had an Advanced Skills day on Sept 26th where we had 42 players in to work with me and my team and then they stayed for the Annual Rookies vs. Returners game afterwards.
  The Rookies jumped out to a 2-0 lead over the Returners and were down 5-4 at the half, but experience and chemistry proved to be the achilles as the Returners won the game 11-6.

  The following weekend on Mountain Day we held our First ever Alumni game featuring 'The' Cory Hall and co.  Cory Hall and his gang of 16 graduated Alumni were hungry for the 1st Alumni game and through the guidance of Veteran Assistant Coach Byers were able to get the Win with a 8-6 victory.  Grown men playing against 19 Freshmen and 9 Sophomores proved to be the difference maker.

  We then hosted our 6th Annual Pumpkin Classic which featured 12 teams in a 7v7 format followed by the "High Steaks" Blue v. White Men's Varsity Lacrosse game at 5:00 pm.  Each team was drafted in accordance with one coach and one captain per team, and the winners ate steaks while the losers ate hot dogs at our team dinner at O'Charley's.

Lastly as our big crescendo on our last day of practice we hosted a Wounded Warrior Foundation Benefit and played against Young-Harris and Emmanuel College.  Additionally, there were three other teams that joined us for the event and we were able to raise and donate almost $7,000 to the WWP.  We played slow in the first game and were not able to overcome our 4-0 1st half deficit and lost by one, however, we faired much better in the afternoon game and won convincingly.

Very busy, but very productive.  A couple of wins and losses, but plenty of competitive situations.  We are now in the off-season, and the Captains are in charge.  I have heard they have lifting groups organized and some 3 by 3 competitions going on in the Richards.  I certainly hope they are working hard, because the season is right around the corner, and we have our work cut out!

  Thanks for reading and see you all soon.