Olliver Hoping for Established Tradition with Men's Lacrosse
HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Heading into its third season of play, the Coker men's lacrosse team is looking forward to making a name for itself. The team finished last season 5-10, which was an improvement from its 2-14 record posted in its inaugural year. Under David Olliver, who begins his first full season as head coach, the Cobras ended last season on a three-match win streak. Last year's finish has Olliver setting the bar high for this year's squad.
"Our biggest goal is to be competitive and win those close games," said Olliver. "Another really big goal is to make it to the conference tournament. Only four of the eight teams get in, so if you can make it there, it's a whole new season within itself."
Olliver will be quite familiar with the competition the Cobras face this season in the South Atlantic Conference. He played and coached at Wingate University prior to joining Coker midway through last season.
"It's a new start for the program," said Olliver. "In the past you could pencil in Limestone to win the conference every year. That's just how it was. The top of the standings could change from week to week in the SAC, which makes every game that much more important."
Although this is just the third season of play for men's lacrosse at Coker, this team does not lack in experience. The 35-man roster consists of 11 juniors and six seniors.
"We are really relying on that junior class to help lead this team," said Olliver. "They have been here the longest and have tons of experience. I am definitely looking for Timothy Smith, Ryan Maurer, Andy Campos and Josh Smith to be the catalysts to this year's team. As for a few younger guys that will shine, look for Austin Holgate and Paxton Caristi to get quality time on the field."
Olliver will certainly be looking to improve the Cobras' offensive and defensive stats from last season. They managed to average 9.67 goals per game, however they also gave up 12.1 goals per game.
"We are a big and fast team, so we will be looking for lots of transition, faster-paced lacrosse," said Olliver. "Defensively, we really want to focus on consistently holding teams under 10 goals a game."
Olliver's club has momentum going from the end of last season, and should it carry over, this could be a team to watch in 2014. It just has to utilize the combination of speed, size, youth and experience it possesses to bring the first winning season.
"These guys have what it takes to do something special," he said. "The conference is up for grabs and they are hungry to make a splash in our first year in the SAC. If we can play to what we are capable of game in and game out, there's no doubt in my mind that we will be a competitive team."
The Cobras kick off their season Feb. 8 on the road against Shorter University.
Story written by media relations intern Aaron Beebe '15.