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Greg Gurenlian: redefining the faceoff position

March 18, 2016
No one can refute that Greg Gurenlian has been a dominant force at and outside the faceoff x for the Lizards this year. The 6’1”, 225-pound midfielder has recorded three goals and five assists in 11 games while also going 178-278 in faceoffs, making him first overall in the League and sixth all-time in faceoff wins with 971.

The Penn State alumnus says there’s no secret in becoming an elite faceoff guy except for being an all-around athlete. “The problem with club teams is they’re telling a 9-year-old they only have to take faceoffs for the next four years,” Gurenlian said. “with the new rules there isn’t enough time to get off the field so a faceoff guy needs to be well developed, a faceoff guy may be 67 percent against other faceoff specialists but 33 percent against a long-pole because they don’t have the stick skills, that’s why it’s important for a faceoff specialist to be well-rounded.”

Gurenlian started playing lacrosse his freshman year of high school, and his solution to catching up with the other players in regards to stick skills was to take faceoffs. “By my senior year I was a first line middie on man up and man down, and I wasn’t recruited to Penn State for faceoffs but for my athleticism,” he continued.

The 2013 All-Star is doing his part to change the view and overall use of a faceoff midfielder in lacrosse, making it a more deadly position. ‘FoGo’ is a term the Penn State All-Time Faceoff Career Wins record-holder has tried to discourage the use of, trying to change it from ‘faceoff, get off’ to ‘faceoff, shoot’ or ‘FoSho.’

“I’m always going to the rack on a faceoff unless a pole makes a hard cut to me, and that’s when I’ll push it to the point guy,” he said.

To encourage the use and development of ‘FoSho’ Gurenlian has begun what he calls his “two year brain-child” The Faceoff Academy. Working with other MLL stars Jerry Ragonese, his teammate on the Lizards, and Chris Mattes of the Boston Cannons, the Faceoff Academy has already had eight events that include a youth clinics and high school combine, and plans for a national recruiting showcase. The scope of the three hour clinics is to work on stance, moves, counters, groundball work, wing play, stick work, shooting and Lacrosse IQ. “The idea is to not just pass time but constantly throw information and reps at the kids in 10 minute increments,” the Beast said about the clinics.

But it doesn’t stop after the three hours, he continued, “we wanted to create 24/7 hour access for the kids so the parents could get their money’s worth by being available by text, email and putting up a website that aids in recruiting.” 

The website alone,, can give young faceoff specialists information on what head to use, an online forum to ask and answer questions, create recruiting profiles and even a YouTube video of repetitive faceoff whistles for practice.

Gurenlian believes that in addition to his camp “kids should be playing other sports and a variety of positions.”

As an athletic strength coach for five years and the owner and operator of Brawlic Strength training, he has worked with many lacrosse players to develop the athlete first, and then the faceoff specialist.

Anyone looking at Gurenlian’s stats over the last two years would never guess that they represent the two seasons following an ACL tear and cracked cartilage suffered in June of 2011. After undergoing surgery he returned the following season and became a 2012 All-MLL team member and a 2013 All-Star. Things continue to look up for Gurenlian as he continues to earn the respect of the lacrosse community both on and off the field.

“It means a lot to be appreciated.  I care a lot about this sport and about this league.  One day when I leave the MLL I want people to remember me by saying "He cared."  I always play as hard as I can for my teammates and for the fans.  Being recognized by the league and the fans for the All-Star Game meant the world to me,” he concluded.