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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)


On the recruiting video, Ryan Berning looked OK to University of Richmond lacrosse coach Dan Chemotti. Nothing special. Berning probably wasn't good enough to play for the Spiders, Chemotti concluded.

Berning's high school coach in Cincinnati followed up with video of Berning as a defensive back at St. Xavier High.

"I called him right back and said, 'I've got to have this kid. We'll figure it out,' " recalled Chemotti. "The athleticism was something that just shined in his football video."

Berning, a senior, is a starting defenseman for No. 13 Richmond (10-2, 5-0 Southern Conference). Another UR defenseman, 6-foot-3 Brendan Hynes, was a football and basketball standout in high school in Mahopac, N.Y.

Chemotti's roster of about 45 includes dozens of Spiders who played high school football, and others who played squash, or hockey, or water polo, or soccer, or basketball or ran cross country. Chemotti loves multisport athletes.

"If a guy at a young age is just going to concentrate on one sport, the sport of lacrosse, they might hit their peak a little earlier," said Chemotti, who grew up as a multisport athlete and played lacrosse at Duke. "They might miss opportunities to be exposed to different types of coaches. They might miss opportunities where they could be exposed to high-pressure game situations.

"And lacrosse is such a unique combination of a variety of sports. You've got skill related to hockey. You've got concepts related to basketball. You've got physical aspects related to football. The endurance related to soccer. If we can find a face-off guy who was a wrestler ... The amount of advantages goes on and on and on."

When the Northeast gets a week of late-October inclement weather, Chemotti believes it's unlikely a young athlete who plays only lacrosse will go outside and practice his shooting. If that same young athlete plays football, he'll be involved rain or shine in practice that helps develop toughness and his overall skill set.

Chemotti thinks most coaches appreciate the value of multisport athletes, such as Teddy Hatfield. Hatfield, a 6-1 sophomore attack, leads Richmond in scoring and assists. That level of accomplishment, said Chemotti, is tightly linked to Hatfield's background as a hockey player.

"He's great when the ball is on the ground because he's not afraid to get into the middle of it. He's good around the goal in those tight spaces," Chemotti said. "He has a variety of different (shot) release points. He has releases up high. He has releases down low. He has releases everywhere.

"If he wasn't a hockey player, I don't know if he'd be the kind of lacrosse player that he is right now."

Richmond has lost twice: one-goal setbacks to Duke and Virginia. The Spiders are into their finishing kick against their top competitors in the Southern Conference. Richmond plays Saturday at Air Force (8-5, 4-1) and then completes the regular season May 29 against visiting Furman (6-6, 5-0).

The SoCon tournament, which consists of semifinals and finals, will be held at Robins Stadium on May 4 and May 6. The winner earns the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. This is the third consecutive year the SoCon tournament will be played at UR.

The coaches in Saturday's game in Colorado Springs, Colo., are very familiar with one another. Chemotti and Air Force's Eric Seremet attended the same high school, West Genesee, about a decade apart. The school is located in Camillus, N.Y., a town of about 24,000, 8 miles west of Syracuse, a lacrosse hotbed.

Chemotti played at Duke. Seremet, the elder of the two, played at North Carolina. Each then played professionally and worked a string of assistant coaching jobs before being hired as head coaches at their respective schools. Air Force is the SoCon's defending champion -the Falcons defeated UR 9-8 in overtime to capture the 2016 championship - and the favorite in the league's preseason poll.

[email protected](804) 649-6233@RTDjohnoconnor

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April 20, 2017


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