Oswego State’s men’s lacrosse junior Andy Lever is making his case to be arguably the best Oswego State spring sport athlete.
Lever is the reigning Oswego State player of the week after putting up eight points in a pair of Laker wins. At 1.71 assists per game, he is one of the top three assist men in the SUNYAC.
And that’s just this season. Last year, in his first year with the program, Lever led the team in points, goals and assists, something he didn’t expect after transferring to Oswego State from a humbling situation.
"In 2009, I was at a Division II school called Dowling College," Lever said. "I didn’t get a chance to show what I could do and I needed a change."
Lever transferred to Oswego State last season and was on the field for the Lakers from the start under former coach Dan Witmer.
"It was a surprise to become the leading scorer right away last season," Lever said. "Before last year, I had never been a leading scorer type at any level, not even in high school. I had to grow into the role and embrace the opportunity. The confidence helped me play better."
Witmer stepped down as head coach after last season, but not before naming Lever as one of the team’s four captains for the 2011 season. Lever, and fellow captains Marcus Peworchik, Brad Teal and Eric Zerrahn, helped the program find their new head coach, Ryan Martin.
The four captains held an interview with Martin, before he was officially hired, and asked him what he could offer Oswego State. The interview process was something that both the players and Martin found useful.
"He was looking to us for what Oswego was all about," Lever said. "He was so anxious to share his ideas for the team with us and to discover how to get the program on the right track again."
"Andy has done a nice job as a leader and captain of this program," Martin said. "He works hard and listens to the coaching staff, which is a great example for the rest of our team to follow."
Heading into the 2011 campaign, the Lakers were in search of an identity. The Lakers have finished last in the SUNYAC three out of the last four seasons. Their lone playoff game over that stretch was a first round loss at SUNY Cortland which resulted in a punishing loss, 25-3.
Lever remembers the low points of last season vividly.
"We had a couple tough loses last season, types of losses I have never experienced before," Lever said. "It was a real shock to finish in last place. That has been a huge motivator for the team going into this season. We want to get back to the postseason."
It’s the thirst to win and improve every game that has impressed his coaches and his teammates the most.
"Lever’s led by example from the beginning of the season, which has had a big impact on our team," said Chris Porten, a freshman who is the leading goal scorer for the Lakers this season.
Lever insists it’s players like Porten who allow him to have the statistical success he has had thus far in his Lakers career.
"It’s a lot more than just me out there," Lever said. "A lot of guys help me get those numbers. (Porten) doesn’t play like a freshman, and when our young guys play well we begin to fire on all cylinders as a team."
Martin still believes it starts with the quarterback of the offense.
"First and foremost, Andy has good vision, and is able to find the open man," Martin said. "He is also starting to do a better job of being a vocal leader on the field."
"The way Lever plays, and what he brings to the table, has helped me to carry out my role and learn to be a leader," Porten said. "He understands that being a captain is a big responsibility and his leadership is essential for our success."
Success is now finding the Lakers in a big way. Currently on a four-game winning streak and possessing a winning record for the first time since 2007, Oswego State heads into conference play in a position to do something very few players on the roster have been a part of: making the SUNYAC playoffs.
If Oswego State is going to compete with their tough conference foes, they will need Lever to be on top of his game. The test begins Saturday, April 12, as Oswego State hosts archrival SUNY Plattsburgh at 1 p.m.
But if there is one sure thing for the lacrosse team, or any team at Oswego State, it’s that Lever is prepared to lead his team, on and off the field, all season long.
"I know that (my teammates) are going to put the ball in the back of the net," Lever said. "We know we can hang with the best teams."