Men’s Lacrosse Back Underway

by npatano


Friar Sports


Taking It One Day At a Time with Big Goals in Mind

By Justin Bishop ’24

Sports Staff

The Providence College Men’s Lacrosse Team is beginning their season and looking to rebound after last year’s Big East Conference tournament semifinal exit to the then-ranked No. 9 in the country, Denver University. The team is entering this season with 33 returners from last season, along with 16 guys representing the black and white jerseys for the first time. Head coach Christopher Gabrielli named Matt Grillo ’22, Evan McGreen ’21GS, and Mike O’Grady ’22 captains for the 2022 season. Grillo was named to the Preseason All-Big East Team as an attackman. The attackman is a critical piece in the Friars’ offense, as Grillo led the team in goals last season with 22. The Friars are projected to finish fifth in the Big East this year from the Big East Coaches poll, whereas Georgetown University is projected to finish first in the conference. “You always come into the season with those lofty goals of winning that Big East title and making the national tournament,” said coach Gabrielli, “but we take a daily approach to goal setting where we take it one day at a time.”

The Friars faced No. 20-ranked Bryant University this past weekend in a good early-season test.
Photo Courtesy of PC Athletics

The team has already played two games this season as of Thursday, Feb. 17 and currently has a 1-1 record. The first game was a 16-9 win over the College of the Holy Cross, in which captain, McGreen, had six goals and two assists, responsible for half of the Friars’ total points. “We have great leadership from Evan McGreen,” coach Gabrielli added. “Evan is one of the best midfielders in the country and a little bit underappreciated.” Another player who lit up the score sheet was Ryan Bell ’25, who tallied two goals and five assists. Coach Gabrielli said, “Ryan Bell is as talented a freshman that we have had around here since Tate Boyce ’19.” The comparison of Bell to Boyce says a lot about the potential of Bell, as Boyce earned All-Big East First Team in his freshman year. The ceiling is high for the high school All-American freshman out of Port Jefferson, NY. 

With regards to the Feb. 5 game against Holy Cross, the Friars were “ultra-aggressive” according to coach Gabrielli and captain McGreen “set the tone for the rest of the team” with his play. “We needed to be tougher on ground balls,” coach Gabrielli added, saying that Holy Cross played more resilient in the second half. He continued, saying, “We need to execute clearing the ball better, we failed five times in the third quarter.” This is something the team will work on in practice.

The Friars had their home opener at Chapey Field on Saturday, Feb. 12 with an Ocean State rivalry against No. 20 Bryant University, who coach Gabrielli described as “a very exciting opponent.” The Friars got out to a 2-1 start, and it went downhill from there, resulting in the Bulldogs strong-arming the team to a gut punching 7-19 loss. A bright spot for the team was when seven individual Friars scored. Bell led the team in points with two (assists). Despite the 10-4 score at the end of the first half, Providence played a solid technical game. The team went 11-12 on clearing the ball, something that coach Gabrielli said they needed to work on, along with only turning the ball over six times, compared to Bryant’s nine.

This is Gabrielli’s 10th season as head coach for the Providence Friars, and he has nothing but good things to say about his team. He spent six years with Duke University’s lacrosse team as their defensive coordinator and helped them reach the Final Four six times, the national title game twice, and total victory in 2010. 

It is safe to say that Gabrielli knows how to win and what a winning culture looks like. He has had plenty of good lacrosse players come through Huxley gate, but the two that stand out are Jared Neumann ’17 and Boyce, who both play professional lacrosse in the Premier Lacrosse League and National Lacrosse League. 

Coach Gabrielli and the team have been itching to play, with him saying, “We’ve had 40-something practices and you only get 14 games, and we just want to play the game.” 

Gabrielli is looking for leadership that starts with the older guys: “guys like Evan McGreen, Drew Edwards, Mike Harris, Mike O’Grady, Matt Grillo, and Matt Gould who are really great leaders.” These are names to watch out for this season to see the impact they make on the field and the interactions they have with the rest of the team on the sidelines during games. 

A group of younger players that Gabrielli says are “poised to fill the shoes of” key pieces of last year’s team of Ryan Nawrocki ’20, Tim Hinrichs ’20, and Daniel Axelson ’20, are “Chris Cusilito ’24, Michael Chabra ’24, Ryan Bell ’25, and Wynton Bastian ’23,” coach Gabrielli stated. Nawrocki led the team in points last year and Axelson, Hinrichs, and Nawrocki were all selected to All-Big East teams. “Chabra and Cusilito got a ton of experience and learned a lot playing with [Axelson, Hinrichs, and Nawrocki] and their ceilings are tremendously high” coach Gabrielli said, praising the sophomores for their play last year and their expected play this season. PC may not have the heaviest bodies on the field, but something that they use to their advantage is their speed in the midfield. Coach Gabrielli said the speed of the players allows the team to control and adapt to the speed and tempo at which each game is played.

Coach Gabrielli also praised the athletic department and the College for highlighting not just basketball or hockey, but all sports in their new athletics commercial. “Most people think that it’s just people in Rhode Island that see that commercial, but that’s a national commercial,” Gabrielli explained. “I think it’s a statement for how our athletic department highlights all athletics, and it’s really cool we were included in that.” 

For context, McGreen is depicted in the commercial in lacrosse gear, standing next to Friars volleyball player Sammie Ruggles ’24, in front of the Ruane building.

PC lacrosse takes on Siena College in New York on Saturday, Feb. 19 and then is back at Chapey Field to play St. Joseph’s University on Saturday, Feb. 26. Tickets to the home games are free, so be sure to come support your Friars.

 

Who is the PC Men’s Basketball X-Factor?

by Sarah McLaughlin '23
Editor-in-Chief


PCI


Providence College Investigates

Justin Bishop ’24

Sports Staff

Al Durham

The best player for the Providence College Men’s Basketball team is clearly 6’10” Center, Nate Watson ’22GS. He is dominant in the paint and constantly comes down with rebounds. However, the X–Factor for this season’s team is the new guy-transfer guard Al Durham ’22GS. 

Head coach Ed Cooley knew Durham would be great for the PC culture. He said, “I know that as good as a basketball player as Al is, he is even a better person and for that reason we believe he will fit into our culture as we welcome him into the Friar family.”

Durham transferred to Providence this past off-season from the University of Indiana where he averaged 8.6 points per game (PPG) and 2.0 assists per game (APG) across 123 games during his tenure. 

The 6’4” playmaker transferred to Providence looking for a bigger role and better leadership than where he left. 

He is a confident shooter the team can rely on to keep his composure during crucial moments. 

The veteran guard has started out on a hot streak, putting up at least 10 points in every game this year and is currently averaging 13.4 PPG and 3.6 APG, well above his averages during his time at Indiana.

 Durham has adjusted well to playing with a new group of guys, but having veteran players like Watson, Noah Horchler ’22GS, and A.J. Reeves ’22 on the starting lineup helps. Durham is expected to be the clutch guy and make the big shot late in a close game. 

The question of whether Durham can adapt to the Big East style of play compared to the Big 10 remains. 

The Big 10 Conference is similar to the Big East, where it is dominated by big Centers in the paint as the first scoring option, with the second scoring option in the corner, ready to shoot a three. 

For Providence, Watson is the first scoring option down low in the post, and  Durham is expected to slide in as the second scoring option ready to hit that clutch three or short jumper. Watson is currently averaging 17.7 PPG, the most on the team, while Durham is second with 13.4 PPG, proving that this model is working. If the Friars want to reach the next level, Durham is going to have to step up in big ways. 

 

Stephen Foster ’22

Sports Staff

Nate Watson

When looking at the Providence College Men’s Basketball Team’s roster for the 2021-2022 season, there is a group of talented players ready to prove their worth to the team. 

However, one player stands out as the X-Factor for the Friars this season: center Nate Watson ’22GS. Watson is returning to the Friars for his graduate year, which will be his fifth season with the team. 

He has made substantial improvements throughout his collegiate career, and this season seems to be no different.

Watson was named the Providence College Male Team Athlete of the Year last year for his impressive season, during which he recorded a team high 16.9 points per game (PPG), 6.7 rebounds per game (RPG), and 26 total blocks. David Duke ’22, who finished second on the team in points per game (16.8 PPG) and rebounds per game (6.3 RPG), chose to leave PC after last season to play professional basketball in the NBA. Watson is expected to step up and become a pure star player for the Friars in order to fill the gap left by Duke.

So far this year, Watson is leading the team with 17.7 PPG and 10 blocks. He is also second on the team with 5.9 RPG, including a team-high of 13 offensive rebounds. Watson controls the paint both offensively and defensively for the Friars. He is their best option when they look to score inside and is their number-one rim protector. He also grabs the most rebounds for the Friars, which limits the opposing team’s shot attempts and ensures that Providence gets as many possessions as they can on the offensive end. It is essential in D1 College Basketball to have a force like Watson playing the center position.

If Watson can hold down the key for the Friars, then the rest of the team will step up from deep and capitalize on their three-point shot attempts (3PTA). Having Watson’s strong interior presence opens up the court for guard Al Durham ’21 (13.4 PPG, 31 3PTA, 25.8 3PT%), forward Noah Horchler ’21 (11.9 PPG, 25 3PTA, 48.0 3PT%), and guard AJ Reeves ’22 (7.9 PPG, 32 3PTA, 31.3 3PT%) to provide consistently from beyond the arc.

If Watson can continue to perform at this level for the remainder of the season, the Friars should rise to the top of the Big East Conference in 2021-2022. 

Two Battle Testing Games for the Friars

by Sarah McLaughlin '23
Editor-in-Chief


Friar Sports


PC Goes 2-0 in Emotional Week

By Justin Bishop ’24

Sports Staff

The Providence College Men’s Basketball team has been on a tear in the early season, posting a record of 8-1 as of Sunday, Dec. 5. 

The Friars won their first five games of the season for the first time since the 2014-2015 season. After dropping a game to the University of Virginia in the Roman Legends Classic Championship game 58-40, the leading scorer for the Friars was Noah Horchler ’22GS with 17 points and seven rebounds. 

The Friars won their next three games against St. Peter’s University 85-71 where Horchler again was the leading scorer with 25 points and seven rebounds. The team won a nail-biter against Texas Tech University where the Friars came out on top 72-68, and Al Durham ’22 was the leading scorer with 23 points. Most recently the Friars took down ocean state rival University of Rhode Island, beating the Rams 66–52, and Horchler was once again the leader in points with 16.

Durham scored 23 points against Texas Tech, including clutch shots and a tough left-side jumper to put PC up 67-65 with just under two minutes left to play; that sealed the game for the Friars. 

This prompted Texas Tech head coach Mark Adams to remark, “If we could trade for Durham, we would. ”Durham, who is averaging 14 points, three assists, and three rebounds, has proved himself to be the primary ball-handler for the Friars offense. 

The former Big Ten Conference point guard is averaging his highest PPG in his career and credits the culture around Providence Basketball as his reason for transferring. 

He said, “Friar fans are everything I estimated when I decided to come here.” Durham and all five on the court at the time waved their arms up and down to incite the crowd with 2:00 to go against Texas Tech. 

The team was definitely thankful the 10,000 fans at the game were on their side, and Cooley noted that the crowd was a big factor in PC’s win, saying, “The crowd willed us to four or five additional baskets and helped us win the game.”

The Friars are dominating their opponents in the paint thanks to the new “one-two combo” of Nate Watson ’22GS and Ed Croswell ’22. 

However, after the URI game, Cooley stated, “Croswell is currently out playing a Big East All-First Team Center in Nate Watson.” This is evident in the most recent games facing Texas Tech and URI, where he posted an 11-point and four-assist game and followed it up by posting a double-double, collecting 13 points and a career high of 15 rebounds, while also shooting 5-5 from the field (FGM). 

On the other hand, Watson had seven points on 3-7 FGM against URI and only had five points and five rebounds against Texas Tech.

Ed Croswell ‘22 had an outstanding week off the bench for the Friars. In the game against University of Rhode Island, Croswell recorded his first double-double in a PC uniform with 13 points and 15 rebounds
Photo Courtesy of PC Athletics

Clearly Coach Cooley is right when he says that Croswell is outplaying him. After the URI game, Coach Cooley said, “We call him Croswell Cleaners because of how he cleans up rebounds on both ends of the court.” 

This got a rise out of Croswell, who did not deny that he is a rebound machine. The head coach of the URI Rams had played against Croswell when he played in the Atlantic-10 Conference during his time at Lasalle University. 

Joking around after the game, he mentioned, “I am sure glad that I do not have to play against him twice a year.” 

The praise from other coaches on the way they play can be attributed back to how Coach Cooley teaches his players. Cooley could not praise Croswell enough; finishing up the press conference, he said, “If we did not have Ed, we would’ve lost the past two games.” 

It is hard for anyone to deny this claim, but Providence could not have won the past two games, along with many others this season, without Indiana University transfer Al Durham.

Cooley likes the way the team is playing as one and not obsessed with trying to be the leading scorer or making highlight reel plays when an open pass is there. 

Al Durham ‘22GS was named Big East Player of the Week, averaging 18.5 points per game in the two wins.
Photo Courtesy of Lubbock-Avalanche Journal

This is evident after a tweet put out by Watson, after the Texas Tech win, saying, ”I love when teams think I’m the only threat, I gotta whole squad #gofriars #urinext.” The tweet is referring to teams locking down Watson, which allows other players, like Croswell, Noah Horchler ’21, and Durham open space. This just proves how close together the team is and that a Pre-Season All Conference forward can take a backseat if needed when someone else is on a role.

The team struggled against Virginia because they could not keep their composure when the Cavaliers went on scoring runs. 

After the past three games since Virginia, Coach Cooley commented, “The mental maturity of all our guys is unbelievable… we are battle-tested playing against seven footers that are on Virginia, the University of Northwestern, and the University of Wisconsin. We are ready for conference play.” The confidence of a head coach like Cooley makes his players tough to compete against.

In each game so far, Coach Cooley has praised the crowd as the first thing he says in the post-game press conference. After the URI game, he said, “Defense won the battle on the court, but the crowd won us the game.” The final attendance taken during the game against the Rams was a whopping 12,945 people, the largest crowd so far this season.

The Friars picked up a big win on Dec. 8 against Vermont University Catamounts where they controlled the whole game and came out victorious 68-58. 

Big East Conference play will begin on Saturday, Dec. 18 against rival and currently No. 17-ranked University of Connecticut.

Sports Shorts

by Sarah McLaughlin '23
Editor-in-Chief


Sports


By Justin Bishop ’24

Sports Staff

Men’s Basketball

The Men’s Basketball team kicked off their season on Tuesday, Nov. 9 when they matched up against Fairfield University. The Friars played at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center and in front of fans for the first time since the 2019-2020 season. The team was greeted with a warm welcome by the fans who were ecstatic to watch their team play in person. Providence did not disappoint the energetic crowd, posting an 80–73 win in the season opener. Nate Watson ’21 cashed in 22 points and Noah Horchler ’22GS put up 10 points along with 11 rebounds.

Men’s Hockey

The Men’s Hockey team had back-to-back wins on back-to-back nights. The team faced off against American International College and the University of Connecticut. Providence beat A.I.C. 2–1 in overtime where Cam McDonald ’23 sniped the top corner of the net to win the game. McDonald was responsible for both goals the team scored, and Jaxson Stauber ’23 stopped 19 of 20 shots he faced. The following day, PC took on Hockey East rival UConn, and they put up six goals in a 6–4 physical, high-scoring game. Nick Poisson ’24 had four assists and helped Providence improve to 8-5-0 on the year.

Women’s Hockey

The Women’s Hockey team faced Boston College for a home-and-home series that the teams split. Friday, Nov. 12 the team upset No. 7 BC 2 – 1 in Schneider Arena where Hunter Barnett ’22 scored two goals in the victory. Goalie Mireille Kingsley ’24 stood on her head and stopped all but one of the 43 shots she faced. The team then traveled to Chapel Hill in Boston to try and sweep the weekend, but came up short and lost 2–1 in overtime. The Eagles’ freshman Abby Newhook scored both of BC’s goals. The Friars currently sit at 4-4-3 (3-3-1) in a very tough Hockey East Conference.

Men’s Soccer

The Men’s Soccer team was defeated in the Big East Championship game by No. 7 Georgetown University 2–1 on Sunday, Nov. 14. The Friars tied the game late thanks to a goal from Brendan McSorely ’24, but it was not enough to steal the win. Georgetown’s Stephan Stojanovic ’23’s second goal of the game at 95’ gave the Hoyas the victory. The Friars were ranked No. 18 in the country as of Sunday, Nov. 14 and will face Marist University in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Nov. 18.