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No. 8 BYU Preseason Preview

The next team up in our preseason look at college teams around the state is the No. 8 BYU Cougars.
The Cougars have more postseason appearances than any other MCLA team and have been a title-contender and top-10 team in the MCLA’s Division-I for over a decade. Despite a No. 9 ranking and a 14-6 overall record, the Cougars had a disappointing end to 2015, losing to 12-seed Stanford in the first round of the national tournament.  As such, BYU will look to right the ship and return to the top of the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association in 2016.
Ranked number 8 in the MCLA preseason poll, the Cougs will have a chance to test their mettle in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference against ranked conference opponents No. 2 Colorado and No. 10 Colorado State. Things aren’t much easier out of conference, as BYU will face possibly the toughest schedule in the country, taking on Nos. 1 Grand Canyon, 4 Chapman, 5 Arizona State, 9 San Diego State, and 20 Simon Fraser.
“We work hard every year to put together a schedule that will challenge the team and this year is no exception,” observed BYU head coach Matt Schneck, “We are going to take every game one at a time and hope that we string together some great victories that will prepare us for the post season and a run at the championship.”

2011-Matt-Schneck-BYU
BYU head coach Matt Schneck
BYU will have a lot of ground to make up on the offensive end, graduating four of their top five scorers from last season and losing the only underclassman of the group, Chandler Wescott, to a two-year LDS mission. The Cougars will rely heavily on young talent on the offensive side from players like sophomore attackmen Jack Fabrizio and Tanner Johnson, freshmen attackmen Winston Farley and Chris Severson, and the junior duo of Alex Yost and Andrew Bertha at midfield.
The BYU offense will have time to find their stride, however, because on the defensive side of the ball, the Cougs will bring back a lot experience: dangerous junior long stick midfielder Max Neser (18 points, 1st team all-conference, and RMLC Defensive POY 2015), senior longpole Quentin Willey (1st-team all conference 2015), junior longpole Harrison Wardle (2nd-team all conference 2015), and senior goalie Matt Brandenburg in the cage (2nd-team all conference 2015).
Freshman faceoff specialist Jack Vassau will take the majority of the draws at center X for BYU and will get a break when needed from junior midfielders Joey Mecham and Josh Tunick.
“We are a young team,” said Coach Schneck, “with a majority of guys that will be playing in their first college lacrosse game this weekend. We will of course rely heavily on the returning leadership. Establishing on field leadership is critical this early in the season especially after months of only practicing against one another. We are hoping to identify early who can produce in the games. The team has been working hard and getting up at 5am every morning for practice. With the exception of a few injuries, the pre-season has been great. Everyone, coaches included, are excited for 2016 and all of the opportunities that it will bring for the team. Let the season begin! “

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