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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Freshman Zach Cole impresses early in the season

Freshman+face-off+specialist+Zach+Cole+poses+near+Sweeney+Field.++PHOTOS%3A+MITCHELL+SHIELDS+%E2%80%9922%2FTHE+HAWK
Freshman face-off specialist Zach Cole poses near Sweeney Field. PHOTOS: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

Freshman lacrosse face-off specialist Zach Cole began his collegiate career by asserting himself as a prominent force for the Hawks, currently leading the team in both face-off percentage as well as ground balls.

In the Hawks’ game against St. Bonaventure University on Feb. 9, Cole won 19 face-off possessions in 23 opportunities while securing 13 ground balls en route to a 15-7 Hawk victory. 

Cole turned in another dominant performance at Fairfield University on Feb. 16, scoring two goals, assisting on two more and winning 21 of 28 faceoffs, leading the way to a 21-10 St. Joe’s win.

Cole retrieving the ball on Sweeney Field

This game came on the heels of being named NEC Men’s Lacrosse Co-Rookie of the Week for his play against St. Bonaventure. Cole is now up to three goals on the year and is winning faceoffs at a rate of 73 percent (52-71).

“I didn’t really have expectations for how things were going to go,” Cole said. “I knew that Fairfield was a good team, and I knew that it was a good matchup for me.”

Cole is on his way to achieving his preseason goals of scoring five times and winning 65 faceoffs. However, he said he isn’t too concerned about individual achievements.

“I tried to reevaluate the goals I wanted to set,” Cole said. “I want to score about 10 goals and just up my faceoff percentage. If I achieve them I’ll be happy, but the wins are more important to me.”

Head Coach Taylor Wray emphasized how important it was to have a face-off specialist that not only wins at a high rate, but can also run out on the break and generate some offense himself.

“Every time you score a goal and you win the ensuing face off, it’s tough for the other team to get any real momentum going,” Wray said. “I feel like our ability to generate transition out of the faceoff, it’s almost like the goal should count for two. It just energizes your team so much.”

Cole joins junior Garrison Kedda and sophomore Billy Jardeleza at the face-off spot. Cole said he appreciates getting to challenge high level face-off players in practice and has learned a lot from them.

Cole battles a defender

Jardeleza said he was intimidated by Cole’s athletic stature during their first encounter as teammates.

“It’s taking some time to get used to going up against someone that good during practice every day,” Jardeleza said. “He definitely makes me a better face-off specialist, he’s just a beast.”

While most freshman struggle with transitioning to the higher level of physicality in college, standing at 6-foot and 195 pounds, it hasn’t been much of a problem, according to Cole.

“No one really cares that you’re a freshman,” Cole said. “The other team obviously sees me being a freshman as a weakness, but you’ve got to turn that around and use it to your advantage.”

Wray said he looks forward to seeing how Cole handles various tests throughout the course of the season.

“Two games [are] just a small snapshot of what you’re going to go through over the course of the year,” Wray said. “We’ve got some great face-off players in our league. And if he continues to approach preparation and training the way that he’s demonstrated, he will continue to be successful.”

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