New coaching staff
In the off-season, the Launch overhauled the coaching staff by bringing in new head coach Tom Mariano and a set of experienced assistants. Coach Mariano knows what it takes to win at a high level as he has spent well over 20 years at the NCAA level and has been an assistant with the MLL’s Ohio Machine and the Chesapeake Bayhawks. Mariano’s assistants include 2016 IMCLA Assistant of the Year Chris Burdick and former NJCAA National Coach of the Year Brian Duncan.
A stacked Supplemental Draft class
The Launch have been busy this off-season as they continue to build a championship contender through the draft. During the supplemental, Coach Mariano put together a class of players he felt could contribute to the team in big ways. With the no. 1 overall pick, the Launch took face-off specialist Will Gural from Brown University. Gural owned the best face-off percentage among seniors in NCAA Division I competition last season. With the remaining 12 picks, Mariano brought in MLL vets including Marty Bowes and Reid Acton.
"We have more depth on the roster now. We were able to fill some needs and wants today," said Launch Head Coach, Tom Mariano on draft day. "We've added more pieces to the puzzle that put us in a great situation to be successful."
Even more talent coming in the Collegiate Draft
In past first rounds, the Launch have drafted elite lacrosse players by taking Matt Landis, Kieran McArdle, Connor Buczek, and Lyle Thompson. This year, another big name from the college ranks will come to Florida via the no. 1 overall pick. Much speculation will be on who that person will be, but if history is any indicator the Launch will add another quality piece.
Return of key Launch players
While Coach Mariano made sure to add talent in the off-season, he made it a priority to re-sign key team players. Defenseman PT Ricci will stay in Florida through the 2018 season and goaltender Austin Kaut received an extension through the 2019 season. Joining Ricci and Kaut on the 2017 roster will be All-Stars Kieran McArdle, Connor Buczek, Tucker Durkin, and Chris Mattes. McArdle and Buczek combined for 63 of the team’s 168 goals last season and will look to do much of the same in 2017. Durkin, one of the league’s top defenders, led the team with 14 forced turnovers.
The Florida Tour
The Launch are not only Palm Beach County's only professional sports team but they are the only professional lacrosse team in Florida. To celebrate that fact, Florida's team is going on a three game roadshow to bring lax further into the Sunshine State.
The first three home games, dubbed “The Florida Tour,” will take place in three soon-to-be-named cities around the state. After the 2017 schedule announcement, star attackman Kieran McArdle expressed his excitement for the upcoming tour. “I think it’s great for the state of Florida and the game of lacrosse in general,” McArdle told Lax Sports Network. “We played a bunch of games of FAU, our attendance was getting better and better but I think playing games at various spots can only help the growth of the game both in florida and nationwide.”
For tickets call 561-923-9067 or visit www.floridalaunchlacrosse.com/tickets today.