Senior-Laden Lycoming Eyes MAC Title
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WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – With a team that features 14 seniors and that has finished in second place or better in the league standings in each of the last three years, first-year head coach Todd Hodgson is ready to bring the Lycoming College men's lacrosse team another first – a Middle Atlantic Conference title.
While the Warriors lost six starters from a squad that finished 11-6 overall and 9-2 in the MAC in 2010, the team returns solid talent, from two attackmen that finished in the top 10 in the league in goals to a goalkeeper that holds the school record in goals against average.
"The team has been working hard," Hodgson said, "and the good thing is that we are still nowhere near our potential. The potential for this program is to compete for a MAC Championship. That is our goal this year as it has been the last four years. We have a lot of senior leadership that has been through the grind, especially on the defensive end. I am a firm believer that you are only going to be as successful as your senior leadership and we have some guys that are starting to excel in that role."
Even with the loss of Nate Walter and Brad Schaeffer to graduation, the Warriors' frontline returns with one of the most talented pairs in the conference in junior Ethan Payne (Farmington, N.Y./Victor) and sophomore Stephen Romano (Sewell, N.J./Washington Township), both of whom finished in the top 10 in the conference in goals in 2010.
Payne led the team and finished second in the conference with a 3.00 goals per game average. He also added 12 assists and finished second on the team with 60 points, as he enters the season 16 points away from becoming the 12th player in school history to post 100 points in a career. Hodgson said he believes Payne will likely move more into the role that was occupied by Walter as the quarterback of the offense.
"Ethan Payne is going to be a lot more versatile," Hodgson said. "He is not going to be just a finisher. He's going to direct the offense."
The Warriors also have a solid right-hand man to Payne in Romano, who posted 30 goals to finish 10th in the conference in 2010. A quick and versatile forward, Romano will once again be counted on to be a key goal scorer for the Warriors.
"Steve Romano is as quick and shifty as they come," Hodgson said. "He's going to draw a lot of attention from a lot of people to really open things up."
Along with Payne and Romano, the Warriors will have several players that can filter in to score, along with senior captain Sean Hogan (Berkeley Heights, N.J./Governor Livingston). Hogan appeared in seven games as a junior and he has one career goal.
Freshmen Brett Farrell (Webster, N.Y./Webster Schroeder), Jason Breau (Lima, N.Y./Honeoye Falls-Lima) and Matt McCaffer (Marcellus, N.Y./Marcellus) will also factor into the attack this season, as Farrell was an honorable mention all-county selection twice in his career and Breau was the team's MVP as a senior.
"We're young and guys are going to have to fill roles that we haven't seen," Hodgson said. "We have a bunch of freshmen that could see a lot of minutes for us this year, in particular Brett Farrell and Jason Breau."
Junior Ben Walker (Allentown, Pa./Parkland) and sophomore Tom Lurie (Bel Air, Md./Bel Air) also could see time in the attack, but likely will move back into the midfield.
"We have a lot of guys capable at attack," Hodgson said. "We just have to figure out who compliments each other best."
Walker posted nine goals and 11 assists in 2010 and Lurie added five goals and two assists, while both will look for increased roles in 2011.
While the attack lost two starters, the midfield feels more of a hit than any other spot on the field, where all three starters from 2010 were lost to graduation. However, the Warriors still return a wealth of players that have been waiting to see their roles increase, including five seniors and three juniors.
"Some guys have been biding their time to get some minutes," Hodgson said. "Tim Clemente played a lot of minutes last year and took a lot of faceoffs. He is someone we're excited about. I think he's gonna really help be a catalyst for us in the possession game for us."
Clemente (West Sayville, N.Y./Sayville) has appeared in 30 career games, picked up 100 groundballs, including 62, the second-most on the club as a junior, and won 59 percent of his career faceoffs.
Sophomore Matt Doherty (Ocean Pines, Md./Stephen Decatur) will step into a more high-profile role after appearing in nine games and forcing five turnovers in 2010.
"Matt has some good genes in that family line," Hodgson said of Doherty, whose brother wrapped up a four-year career with the Warriors in 2010. "He will help us as well."
Several others will provide two-way options for the Warriors. Senior Josh Perrault (Penn Yan, N.Y./Penn Yan) will play a key role again, as he appeared in all 16 games in 2010, scored seven goals and added five assists. Senior Kevin Pfister (Toms River, N.J./Toms River South) will also continue to play a key role after appearing in 12 games and providing an assist in 2010. He has 33 career groundballs in 40 games and he has forced 11 turnovers.
Senior Ryan O'Connor (Farmington, N.Y./Victor) appeared in all 16 games and notched seven goals, nine groundballs and three caused turnovers as a junior and senior Matthew Smith (Rochester, N.Y./Aquinas) appeared in six games, scoring two goals and posting two groundballs in 2010.
Junior Luke VanEmburg (Orefield, Pa./Parkland) will also likely see an increased role after appearing in 12 games and grabbing 11 groundballs as a sophomore. The short-stick defensive midfielder has impressed Hodgson early in the preseason. Senior Chris Andrychuk (Baltimore, Md./Parkville) will also see time in the defensive midfield after playing in six games and posting an assist as a junior.
Juniors Hank Runser (Westminster, Md./Winters Mill) and Anthony Aloi (Syracuse, N.Y./Henninger), sophomore Ian Eisenhart (Telford, Pa./Souderton) and senior Patrick Heagy (Drexel Hill, Pa./Upper Darby) will also compete for time in the midfield.
The Warriors return a pair of experienced players in the long-stick midfield position, led by senior Jarrett Hesse (East Syracuse, N.Y./East Syracuse Minoa), who has appeared in 43 career games. As a junior, Hesse picked up 18 groundballs and forced 19 turnovers.
Senior Brendan Nally (Somerville, N.J./Immaculata) has appeared in 10 games and picked up four groundballs in his career.
While youth dominates the attack and midfield positions, the Warriors have one of the most experienced defensive corps in the MAC, with three senior defensemen and a junior making up the heart of the corps.
Junior Victor Marchetti (Cortland, N.Y./Homer) will once again be an important part of the defense, as he has played in 26 career games and picked up 21 groundballs and seven caused turnovers.
"That group is definitely our strength," Hodgson said. "We have potentially one of the best defensemen in the conference in Vic Marchetti. Between him and J.B. Campenella playing together for the third year, they know each other's strengths and weaknesses."
Campanella has appeared in 46 career games and has started in each of the last two years. He notched an assist, 21 ground balls and 13 caused turnovers as a junior.
Senior Victor Gonzalez (Vernon, N.J./Vernon Township) will also see time in the backfield after moving back from the midfield, where he has played in 36 games in the last three years.
"Vic Gonzalez has picked up a long-stick and looked good,"
Hodgson said. "We expect to play a lot of defensemen to stay fresh
and I think that is one of the things as a coach that you
Others that may filter into the defense are senior Matt Siracusa (New Hyde Park, N.Y./New Hyde Park), who played in 10 games in 2010 and forced 10 turnovers, senior Nate McKinney (Liverpool, N.Y./Liverpool), who has appeared in 18 career games, including nine as a junior, and junior Chris Petillo (Bellport, N.Y./Bellport), who has appeared in nine games in his career.
With a pair of senior goalkeepers, the Warriors have a lot of experience between the pipes, as both Alan Antinarelli (Rochester, N.Y./Aquinas) and Josh Danmyer (White Hall, Md./Hereford) are both captains and leaders, as well.
Antinarelli took over the starting role in 2010 and he responded by posting a .565 save percentage and an 8-6 record while allowing 8.03 goals per game. In 28 career games, Antinarelli has the lowest goals against average, 7.85, in school history.
"Al's greatest strengths are his outlets and his communication," Hodgson said. "He communicates very well with the team. He gets everyone on the same page. His outlets are the catalyst to push the ball up the field and play fast."
Danmyer has been a capable backup throughout his career, posting a 3.99 career goals against average in 10 games. As a junior, he posted a 2-0 record, making 10 saves with a 2.54 goals against average in five games.
Behind the senior duo, Hodgson said that freshman keeper Andrew Hauk (Sackets Harbor, N.Y./Immaculate Heart) could also vie for some immediate playing time, while freshman Sean Brown (Baltimore, Md./Lansdowne) may also see time.
With two NCAA Division III Tournament teams heading into the Shangraw Athletic Complex this spring, the Warriors will face plenty of stiff tests.
The Warriors open the 2011 campaign by hosting 15th-ranked Dickinson on Feb. 23 at 3:30 p.m. The Devils finished 2010 ranked seventh in the nation and reached the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament. After a game at SUNY Maritime on Feb. 26, the Warriors will face 13th-ranked Geneseo at Corning-Painted Post High School on March 2.
"We will continue to challenge ourselves by playing nationally-ranked opponents this year," Hodgson said. "It is our belief that the difficult non-conference schedule will help prepare us for conference play."
The Warriors also head to Elmira on March 5 before hosting Ithaca in the team's final non-conference game on March 9 at 3:30 p.m.
The Warriors wrap up the season with 11 straight Middle Atlantic Conference clashes, starting off by playing at DeSales on March 23 before hosting the defending MAC champions, Widener, on March 26 at 1 p.m. The Warriors also host Alvernia (April 2), Lebanon Valley (April 6), Misericordia (April 13), Messiah (April 26) and FDU-Florham (April 30).
The Warriors face King's (March 30), Manhattanville (April 9), Eastern (April 16) and Elizabethtown (April 21) on the road as part of the MAC schedule.
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