Courcelle makes huge strides after position switch

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Courcelle makes huge strides after position switch

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Photo by Jordan Johnson

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Not many athletes have the athleticism to change positions from long-stick midfielder to short-stick defensive midfielder. Anthony Courcelle is part of a rare breed that can.

“(Courcelle) is one of the better athletes we’ve had in this program in terms of pure athleticism,” Marquette men’s lacrosse head coach Joe Amplo said.

Amplo said he felt confident enough in Courcelle’s skill set that he moved him to SSDM, the position he deems the most important on the field, in the middle of last season.

Courcelle said he struggled with the transition at first.

“There were definitely some days where I was ready to tear my hair out,” Courcelle said. “But my coaches really devoted so much time to helping me and I’m really grateful for that.”

Last year, Courcelle only played in five games due to injury and the position switch, but this season, he has already made an immediate impact as a small-stick defender. The redshirt sophomore has been all over the field, using his speed and physicality to keep opposing offensive players away from the crease.

“(I play) fast. I love to hit,” Courcelle said. “I want to dominate every possession, every ground ball. I try to dominate as best I can.”

One could compare Courcelle’s play to a bulldog, a comparison he greatly enjoys.

“That’s definitely a good comparison,” Courcelle said. “Especially when there’s a ground ball, anybody in my way I’m trying to bully out.” 

The Florida native recognizes the importance of simply doing his job and trusts in his fellow defenders.

“Even if I get beat one way and I keep the guy down the alley, we have a slide coming because it’s a team game,” Courcelle said. “As long as I can do my job and do my job well, I can rely on my teammates.”

This season, Marquette has a wealth of depth at Courcelle’s position. At SSDM, Marquette rotates five or six players in with Courcelle, usually junior Luke Anderson and redshirt junior Nick Singleton. But so far this season, Courcelle has proved he deserves a good amount of time.

One of Courcelle’s best assets is his ability to push the ball downfield after forcing turnovers and collecting the ground ball.

“Us short sticks being able to push the ball with our (long stick midfielders) is a huge, huge, huge thing in transition,” Courcelle said. “If we can continue to do that, maybe get a couple goals out of that and help the offense relieve some stress, that would really help them out.”

Even though Courcelle has made great strides in his few years as a Marquette player, Courcelle and Amplo said there is still room for growth.

“There’s times when he looks terrific and is able to have his athleticism shine, and there are times when he looks like a seventh grade lacrosse player,” Amplo said. “When he gets to the point where he’s calm and at ease with his surroundings on the field, he’s going to be one of the better ones we’ve had here.”

“(I need) to be able to cover guys and talk to my teammates a little better,” Courcelle said. “Sometimes when I get tired … the communication drops way down. So if we can work together and try to keep that up the entire game, that will really help us.”

Off the field, Amplo cannot say enough about Courcelle’s effect on the squad.

“(Courcelle) is the fabric of our personality,” Amplo said. “That kid has got such a presence off the field. He’s such a positive kid, he’s always smiling. He’s got that ability to make everyone around him feel better, which is a life skill that will serve him well.”

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