LEXINGTON, Va. – Facing a difficult schedule in head coach Jon Birsner's second year at the helm, the 2017 VMI lacrosse program continued to show progress and improvement as the Keydets earned several milestones both as a team and on an individual level.
Similar to the 2016 season, the Keydets again won two games over the course of the season with both coming against the same opponents, coincidentally, in Hampton and the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Junior Wesley Sanders repeated as a first team All-Southern Conference selection despite missing the final three games to injury as he led the Keydets in goals (17), shots (91) and shots on goal (47). His 8.27 shots per game ranked first in the league and his 1.55 goals per game average ranked eighth in the league. Dating back to last season, Sanders went 24 consecutive games with at least one point tallied before it ended in a loss at Monmouth on Apr. 10. At the time he was ranked No. 22 on the national listing with 43 goals and 15 assists for a combined 58 points.
True freshman John Daniel started all 14 games en route to Southern Conference All-Freshman team honors as he led the Keydets in assists (20) and points (34) for the season. He ranked fifth in the league in assists per game at 1.43 per outing and sixth in the league in points at 2.43 per game. Daniel registered several prolific moments during the season, including back-to-back six point games against Mount St. Mary's and Hampton and followed up with five points tallied at Monmouth on Apr. 10.
Seniors Chris Spada, Nick Dodd, Brad Nardella and Dale Mattice also found themselves near the top of the team's points leaders as the foursome combined for 47 goals and 27 assists for a tally of 74 points.
Junior goalie Joe Riccadonna was fantastic in the circle for the team as he climbed to No. 7 on the VMI all-time saves list with 374 over the past three years. He registered a career game against No. 20 Richmond on March 11, a game in which he logged 23 saves, a VMI record for a single conference match. His 17 saves against Air Force on April 15 is tied for 10th for a single conference game while his 88 combined saves over seven league games this season resulted in a fifth-place standing in the VMI record book for single season saves.
Sophomore defender Kyle Walsh also enjoyed a spectacular season, causing 1.69 turnovers per game to rank third in the Southern Conference and 15th in the NCAA standings.
The Keydets look to build on both the individual and team successes from this season in preparation for a successful 2018 campaign.
1. Second fewest goals allowed in a game: 1 (at Hampton on Apr. 1, a 14-1 VMI victory)
2. In early April, ranked as high as second in the league and third in the NCAA in penalty killing percentage at .833 (allowed just four goals in 24 attempts.)
Individual Accolades – VMI Record Book Additions
- No. 7 all-time career saves – 374
- No. 1 single conference game record for saves – 23 vs. No. 20 Richmond on Mar. 11
- Tied for 10th in single conference game saves – 17 vs. Air Force on Apr. 15
- Fifth in single season saves (conference games) – 88 over seven games
- Tied for third single game assists record – 5 vs. Hampton on Apr. 1
- Tied for fourth single game assists record – 4 vs. Mount St. Mary's on Mar. 28
- 7 points versus Jacksonville (Apr. 8) – tied for 6th for a single game (tied for 3rd single league game)
- 5 goals versus Jacksonville (Apr. 8) – tied for 2nd for a single league game