Alma, Mich. - The Alma College men's lacrosse team took significant steps in 2016 as the Scots established themselves as one of the elite programs in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association in just the fifth year of the program.
Alma posted a 13-5 record, setting program marks for most wins, fewest losses, and highest winning percentage (.722). In addition, the Scots finished a program-best second place in the MIAA with a 6-1 record, suffering their only defeat to league champion Albion College.
Alma also qualified for the MIAA Tournament for the second straight season, advancing to the championship game for the first time in program history. The Scots defeated Trine University, 9-5, in the first-ever home postseason game at Bahlke Field before falling to the Britons in the tournament finale.
During the season, Alma established nearly every school record offensively, averaging 11.22 goals per game and outscoring opponents by an average of 2.61 goals per outing. The Scots were paced by freshman Jared Nycz (Elma, N.Y./Iriquois), who tallied a school-record 82 points with 35 goals and a program-best 47 assists en route to earning Offensive Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year honors in the MIAA. Nycz, who was named to the All-MIAA First Team, ranked 12th in NCAA Division III with 2.61 assists per game and finished the season 24th nationally with 4.56 points per game. After one season, Nycz stands as the career leader in helpers, which includes a MIAA-record nine assists and 12 points on April 26 against Calvin College.
In addition to Nycz, four other Scots received All-MIAA honors. Senior Sam Korbel (Schaumburg, Ill./Schaumburg) was named to the First Team, while senior Justin Saxman (Holt, Mich./Holt), freshman Jake Ellens (Cadillac, Mich./Cadillac) and sophomore Tanner Diment (Midland, Mich./Midland) received Second-Team accolades.
The Scots opened the campaign with four straight wins on the road and finished the non-conference season 6-3, including a 10-9 win over Southwestern (Texas) on March 26 in the first-ever overtime game played at Bahlke Field. The Scots remained perfect at home in 2016 with a 6-0 mark that featured a school-record 22 goals in a 22-12 win over Calvin.
Sophomore Daniel Buchy (Springboro, Ohio/Springboro) established the school record for goals in a season, netting 44 to become the first player in program history to notch 40 goals. Three other players - senior Marshall Argenta (Stafford, N.Y./Notre Dame), Nycz, and Ellens - were part of the 30-goal club, the first Scots to ever achieve the honor.
In net, senior Al Lesperance (Farmington, Mich./Farmington) started every game and recorded 106 saves, third-best in the history of the program. Lesperance graduated with the fewest goals allowed (346) of any Scots netminder, while his career .483 saves percentage is best in program history.
Argenta concluded his career as the Scots' leader in goals (99) and points (137), while senior Kyle Schnitzer (Aurora, Colo./Smoky Hill) is the only other player in program history to record 100 career points. Schnitzer finished his career second in points (105), goals (63) and assists (42). In addition, Korbel leaves the program after collecting a program-best 326 ground balls in his four years.
The Scots will graduate 10 seniors - Argenta, David Foster (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer), Lesperance, Saxman, Korbel, Jason Traub (DeWitt, Mich./DeWitt), Stephan Salceda (Dousman, Wis./St. John's NW Military Academy), Schnitzer and Joe Rimbo (Lemont, Ill./Lemont) - but are expected to retain most of their offensive firepower when they open the 2017 campaign.