SELC D2 squad #11 Kennesaw State has started off their 2011 campaign 4-0 with wins over Georgia Southern, #23 St. Mary’s (CA), D3 Berry College and Georgia State. We wanted to see what was in the water that was helping them to start off so hot, so we sat down with Head Coach Ken Byers to have him fill us in.
MCLA Fan: Last year you guys missed out on a trip to Nationals by two goals to Elon, how has that affected the guys’ mindset going into this season?
Coach Byers: After losing to Elon in the SELC Championship the team was disappointed. Situations happen and it only took a short time to overcome our issues with the selection for the national tournament. We had a great season in 2010 but the team knows that we can learn and improve from the past. By the fall the group had allowed this to pass. Going into 2011 the Owls know we have to “win it, to be in it”. What that comes down to is knowing that when we win the SELC Championship we will have that bid to the MCLA tournament that slipped away last season.
What are some of the team’s goals for this season?
Our goals for this season include earning a playoff spot in the SELC tournament. Second, winning the SELC crown and travel to Denver. Finally, stay healthy to enjoy our 2011 season and excel in the classroom.
It looks as though you lost a couple key scorers last year, but in three games, you already have ten different people contributing points. How deep is your team this year?
Our team gained much experience last year. This has helped us fill the holes due to graduation and other issues. It is a coaches delight to see players step up contribute after they were groomed for it last year.
What’s up with your goalie situation? I’ve never seen a team with five goalies, who pretty much all have playing time, especially in just three games.
Our goalies compete each and every week for playing time in practice. All five have talent and ability to stop tough shots. I will never complain about this situation. I have had squads in the past with no keepers so this is pure luxury and can only make us a better team.
Along those same lines, your roster on MCLA.us is a solid 33 players deep. How does a team only founded six years ago get so big, so quickly?
The total number of players has been around 30-35 the past 4 years. I would ultimately like to have a compliment of 40 players total on our squad. We fill our spots with the players coming from Georgia and have recently been giving out of state player’s aid for tuition. As far as the size of the players, all I can say is that it must be in the water.
You guys already beat #23 St. Mary’s (CA) and will later play #9 Elon and #12 SCAD. What will it take to beat these guys?
SCAD and ELON are very good teams. They know that and we know that. It will take a flawless game. It will be simple. Score more than them and keep them to ten goals or less. Both teams are heavy favorites to compete for the SELC title in 2011. These games are much later in our schedule so I must advise that the Owls need to remain healthy during the final portion of the season.
What game(s) do you look forward to most this year?
Each year is always new and exciting. The squad looks forward to our out of conference games with St. Mary’s, Coast Guard and Stonehill. We know what kind of challenges await in the SELC. The out of conference games are always fun and shows the caliber of lacrosse being played in the SELC. I think the Owls are pretty excited about our trip to Palm Beach Atlantic in March. It has been a trip talked about for years and will be a terrific reward for our players this season.
If you were talking to a recruit, what three things would you tell them to get them to attend Kennesaw?
First of all if you were an out of state player I could advise you that KSU grants in state tuition for out of state players. Financially, that can really help players decide what level of lacrosse they can play. Second, is that our program is a proud member of the MCLA and SELC. We want fans to see lacrosse the way it should be played. Every day we practice and play the game the way it should be played. Finally, the facilities and atmosphere at KSU is a big factor for recruits. The state of the art facilities far exceed what many NCAA programs have in place and the school itself is incredible. One final selling point about KSU is the ladies. They are beautiful!
Everyone in the MCLA is obsessed with new gear, what sort of gear is Kennesaw sporting this season? (Any pics?)
The team is very excited about is our new threads for the home games. We obtained the “Chapman look” for our home jerseys and the team likes our new look.
Who do you think will take the crown for NCAA D1 and MCLA D1?
I think that UVA is poised to win the NCAA D1 crown. MCLA D1 might be a little different this year. I think Michigan will be beat by someone like Oregon, Chapman or Arizona State. Ok, you heard it here first, Oregon. Utah Valley surprises many and wins the MCLA D2.