Idaho Vandals 2014 Season Preview
01.13.2014 - By Britt Cornaby

IdahoLaxCoach Sammy Seidenberg was hired in September, 2013 to lead the Idaho Vandals program.   He was the goalie/defensive coach with NCAA D3 Washington & Jefferson in Pittsburg, PA and one of his players; Joe Eck was an Idaho native.  Coach Sammy and Joe frequently talked about Idaho lacrosse and the growth of lacrosse in the west.  Coach Seidenberg took the Idaho job for several reasons; he grew up playing lacrosse in California-both high school and college and wanted move back west to help grow the sport in an area of the country he calls home.   In the few months he has been in the Palouse, he has helped grow the youth game in North Idaho and is working with the local high schools (Moscow and Logos) with player clinics.  Coach Seidenberg has plans to develop a travel team and summer camp in North Idaho this summer.

His first impression of the Idaho Vandal players was there is “a lot of talent” on the team, more than he expected.   After spending the fall working with the team a couple of highlights stood out; beating Gonzaga at home 6-5 after losing to them earlier in Montana and losing top Boise State by 2 with a shorthanded roster, only 13 players.  Several players stood out his fall-Ryan Erstad (Sr-defense-Boise HS), Patrick Tunison (Jr-midfield-Bishop Kelly), Andrew Spangler (Fr-midfield-Bishop Kelly) and Jack Williams (Fr-midfield-Boise).  Spangler and Williams both have athleticism that will help them contribute on the first or second line middies.

When Coach Seidenberg spoke about the 2014 spring season he was very optimistic and said that “we will do really well”.  The current roster of 25 players (could add more) is one of the largest in recent history and could help the Vandals to the first winning season in program history.  I asked about playoffs expectations in the tough PNCLL conference and Coach Sammy was quick to quip “no promises. But, if we have a winning season, that means we should make the playoffs.”  The PNCLL schedule was already in place before he arrived and he put together the pre April 5 schedule.   Coach Seidenberg and the team wanted to play BYU, Colorado and Colorado State on the schedule (next year hopefully) and was very happy to set up games with Westminster and Utah Valley in Utah.  The most critical stretch of the schedule is the three early PNCLL games versus Washington State, Simon Fraser and Washington.  These games will be very important if the Vandals want to have a winning season and have success in the PNCLL.  One of the most anticipated games of the spring season is the home game versus Oregon.  It will be played in the Kibbie Dome; the Idaho lacrosse team hasn’t played in there for five years.  They are working with some local charities to help give back to the community in conjunction to the Oregon game as well.

Offensively, the Vandals will need to replace Kyle Morse, who finished up his eligibility.  Coach Seidenberg feels that Charlie Cornforth, the incoming freshmen and the return of Derrick Wilson (Eagle) will fill that void.  With “solid dodgers” and “multiple systems” he feels a up-tempo “run & gun” style fits the team best.

Defensively, the Vandals return their core players.  Ryan Erstad is a captain and a senior will anchor the defense.  Coach mentioned that they lost many games last year when they scored more than 10 goals.  The team has come up with some defensive “non-negotiables” and goals which will hold the defense more accountable.  Idaho has typically been a single defense team and will add additional systems this year to help achieve those goals.

The Idaho lacrosse team captains for 2014 are Ryan Erstad and Patrick Tunison.  They complement each other as leaders with Ryan being the vocal leader and Tunison leading with his play.   They will add 2 more captains as the season gets underway and Coach Seidenberg feels that there are “6-7 players who could be captains.”

In addition to a new head coach; Blake Uphus will handle the goalie and defensive responsibilities with the head coach’s guidance.  Kyle Morse is the strength and conditioning coordinator and has worked out access to the Kibbie dome facility.  Coach Seidenberg will handle the offensive responsibilities and would like to add an offensive coach next year and he would then act as head coach over the coordinators.

The 2014 Vandals will rely on the players already mentioned and are exciting about a couple other players as well; Harry Birak (LSM) returns to the team as a senior,  Steven Green  (faceoff) freshman from Moscow has shown some moxy, and a German foreign exchange student (scored 3 goals in the Boise game) will only improve with coaching.   If all goes according to plan the Vandals will have the first winning record in lacrosse program history in 2014 and that is only the beginning.