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Boys Lacrosse: Mercury-Area Team-By-Team Preview

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Boyertown

Boyertown’s Brady McFalls carries the ball in transition against Phoenixville. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Coach: Grady B. Wise, 2nd season
Last year’s record: 9-11 overall, PAC semifinals, District 1-3A qualifier
Players to watch: Seniors Skylar Wallace, mid.; Nick Moccia, mid.; Keegan Schealer, def.; Brett Heuer, def.; Cole Metzger, goalie. Juniors Brady McFalls, att.; Mike Federicio, att.; Alex Axman, mid.; Carter Watts, att.; Shane Clinton, def.
Outlook: The Bears will hope continuity in coaching and roster – seven starters return, including All-Area first team attack Brady McFalls – can help them climb after mixed results in 2017 saw Boyertown reach the PAC and district playoffs but finish 9-11, including going 2-7 over their last 9 games. “This year’s team returns many players with varsity experience from last year that provide another opportunity to play for a PAC championship and win a District 1 playoff game,” coach Wise said. Boyertown boasts its most experience on attack and defense. Avoiding the performance peaks and valleys of the past and playing ‘four complete quarters’ will be the difference in the Bears’ getting on the right side of a winning record.

Methacton

Coach: Nathanael Ryan, 9th season
Last year’s record: 8-10 overall
Players to watch: Seniors Kyle Kacala, att.; Stanley Kolimago, mid.; Connor Sullivan, def. Juniors Payton Sikora, att.; Jack Pellegrino, att./mid.; Matt Wall, goalie. Sophomores Jaxson Peoples, mid.; Matt Matour, def.
Outlook: Methacton is consistently in the conversation for the PAC Final Four and the District 1 playoffs, but neither target has been reached the past two seasons. The Warriors look to meet those goals in 2018 by counting on returning pieces on attack, including All-PAC second teamers Kacala and Kolimago. “We return four players with starting experience to our attack so we have great depth and competition at that position. Additionally our midfield returns two starters and a lot of experience,” coach Ryan said. They’ll need players to step up on defense with the departure of four starters, including PAC Defensive Player of the Year Kyle Derrickson (Vermont). “We need to gain some experience early. We do have outstanding talent and depth at the goalkeeper position (Wall) and are excited about what we can do there. We will be using the beginning part of our schedule to solidify the group in front of them.” Ryan sees a more competitive league in the PAC in 2018 and hopes his Methacton squad can keep pace throughout. “The league has continued to improve and grow and is much more competitive than it has been in the past. While Spring-Ford and OJR have solidified themselves as the consistent frontrunners, the talent and depth of teams from top to bottom has grown over the past few years. It should make for an exciting 2018 regular season.”

Owen J. Roberts

Coach: Ben Carville, 2nd season

Owen J. Roberts’ Joe Tordone carries the ball against the defense of Perkiomen Valley’s Sam Bonavita during the PAC semifinals Tuesday at Owen J. Roberts. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Last year’s record: 7-2 PAC, 11-9 overall, PAC finalist (lost to Spring-Ford 9-5), District 1-3A first round (lost 16-8 to West Chester East)
Players to watch: Seniors Brian Monk, LSM/def.; Nick DeCarlo, mid.; Joe Tordone, att.; Matt Brownley, mid. Junior Logan Clefisch, att. Sophomores Tyler Muir, goalie; Cooper Chamberlain, mid.; Christian Brofft, mid.
Outlook: Another season commences of being the hunter and the hunted for OJR. The Wildcats have played in the last 11 PAC championship games, staying a step ahead of all PAC schools not named Spring-Ford. But the Rams remained a thorn in OJR’s side by winning a seventh-straight PAC title at the Wildcats’ expense. The Wildcats graduated three All-Area first team picks in Austin Koury, Noah Calle and Mike Giandonato, but the roster is far from bare with All-Area team attack Joe Tordone leading the returnees. “Our team is poised to continue to build on our successes and clean up our mistakes from last season. It will be difficult to replace the experienced senior class from last year, but our players are excited to develop their own identity,” coach Carville said. OJR looks to use a stout non-league schedule to maintain its place as a contender in the PAC. “The competitive gaps have tightened in our league and we are looking forward to the challenge that presents. We enter every season with the expectation of competing for a league championship,” Carville said.

Perkiomen Valley

Coach: Bryan Churchey, 6th season
Last year’s record: 8-1 PAC, 13-5 overall, PAC semifinalist (lost 9-8 to OJR), District 1 first round (lost 8-4 to Downingtown East)
Players to watch: Seniors Remy Sell, def.; Brian Fehr, att.; Richie Marshall, att./mid.; Max Nice, mid.; Nick Pammer, mid.; Ryan Candelori, def. Juniors Connor Donovan, def.; Nick Steele, mid.; Rob Farrington, goalie. Sophomores Matt Brock, mid./FO; Connor Roop, att.; Zach Schiffman, att.
Outlook: Perkiomen Valley will have a bit of a reboot in 2018 after graduating arguably the most talented class in program history led by All-Area first team picks Shawn Coulter (Stevens Tech), Nick Marren (Lehigh) and Kevin Mo (Seton Hill). The Vikings didn’t quite have the level of success they sought last season despite a strong regular season, but the expectations have been raised. “We have a lot of new faces after graduating a core group of leaders and contributors last year. With that said, those players that have been sitting behind last year’s contributors have done an outstanding job preparing themselves for 2018 and the opportunity to continue to take our program to new levels of success,” coach Churchey said. “We’re pleased with their progression so far. There’s still plenty of work to do but they’ve stepped up and know what the expectations are.”

Phoenixville

Coach: Chip Mittnacht, 2nd season
Last year’s record: 3-6 PAC, 10-9 overall, District 1-2A first round (lost to Radnor 15-2)
Players to watch: Seniors Matt Napolitana, att.; Danny Jackson, mid.; Brendan Jenkins, def.; Danny Thompson, def.; John Kettelle, mid. Juniors Steven Schaefer, def.; Bobby Batten, mid. Sophomores Brady Aselton, att.; Ignacio Ortiz, att.
Outlook: The Phantoms showed promise in coach Mittnacht’s first season by achieving a winning record and qualifying for the district playoffs for the first time. A largely new core will take the torch but Mittnacht is pleased with the developing chemistry in the early season. “This team has made great strides in the short amount of time they have played together,” he said. “They have become an increasingly confident group and believe they can compete with any team they are up against. I expect they will surprise a number of opponents.”

Pope John Paul II

Coach: Blase Cesarone, 2nd season
Last year’s record: 3-6 PAC, 7-8 overall, District 1-AA first round (9-4 loss to Springfield-Montco)
Players to watch: Seniors Luke Roth, def.; Justin Kent, att.; Kyle Donovan, att.; Jake Bildstein, def.; Mike Florig, def.; Noah Balliet, goalie; Eric D’Agostino, mid.
Outlook: In a league with a landscape that barely ever changes, the Golden Panthers make for a team to watch in 2018. Last year’s record won’t impress, but PJP played close with traditional PAC playoff contenders and could have the ability to get on the right side of those results with a senior core returning, led by All-Area honorable mentions Balliet and Kent. “We are very optimistic about the 2018 season,” coach Cesarone said. “The majority of the team are seniors with years of varsity experience. We are looking forward to taking the next step as a program.” If things come together like PJP hopes, a winning record and return trip to the district playoffs are very realistic.

Pottsgrove

Coach: Jason Gault, 2nd season
Last year’s record: 1-8 PAC, 2-15 overall
Players to watch: Senior Wyatt Sizemore, mid. Juniors Nate Tornetta​, def.; Justin Houck, goalie; Sebastian Nelson, att. Sophomore Charles Sithens, att. Freshmen Justin Westcoat, att.; Riley Howard, mid.; JaDore Colbert, mid.
Outlook: Wins haven’t come easy for the Falcons in recent years and while that may not change this season, Pottsgrove may be taking a long-term view with contributions expected from a number of underclassmen. “Pottsgrove lacrosse is continuing with a program focused on discipline, sportsmanship, pride, and precision,” coach Gault said. “We look forward to a competitive season of lacrosse, building on the return of key players from last season,​ and bolstered by a new influx of talented freshmen to round out the team.”

Spring-Ford

Spring-Ford’s Ryan Rosenblum looks to dodge Owen J. Roberts’ Brian Monk during their PAC game Tuesday. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Coach: Kevin Donnelly, 15th season
Last year’s record/accomplishments: 19-4, PAC champions (9-5 over OJR), qualified for PIAA 3A Championships
Players to watch: Seniors Ryan Rosenblum, mid.; Jarrod Marenger, att.; Kyle Pettine, goalie; Gage Warrell, def.; Kyle Mason, LSM/def.; Gavin Hare, mid.; Hunter Hudak, LSM; Luken Wilson, def. Juniors Peyton Gensler, att.; Dean Costalas, def.; Blake Terrizzi, def.; Gunnar Romano, mid.
Outlook: Spring-Ford furthered its status as the top program in the PAC with its seventh straight league title before qualifying for the PIAA tournament for the first time by defeating Haverford in the District 1-3A fifth-place game. It was the long-sought step forward for the Rams, but to repeat will require an even better performance than a year ago. While 2017 All-Area Player of the Year Danny Cassidy has since departed for Notre Dame, the Rams return a pair of All-Area first teamers in Marenger and Mason, second teamers Rosenblum and Pettine and good all-around depth. “ We are attempting to push ourselves to be the best team that we can be. We are focusing on doing the little things right,” coach Donnelly said. “We have set a challenging schedule for the team in hopes that it prepares us for the end of the year.” Indeed, Spring-Ford has as challenging a non-league schedule as you’ll find in the region, with the intent on keeping the PAC plaque in Royersford and making another deep postseason run.

Upper Merion

Coach: Brady McCormick, 11th season
Last year’s record: 3-6 PAC, 6-10 overall
Players to watch: Seniors Zeev Magid-Slav, mid.; Alex Merritt, def.; Johnny Salamy, mid.; Kyle Thornton, def. Juniors Nick Lindelow, mid.; Joey Meere, att.; Josh Reinhardt, att. Sophomores Scott Clairmont, def.; Andy Dixon, mid.
Outlook: Upper Merion is looking for an attitude adjustment to help it on the way to a winning record, according to veteran coach McCormick. “Our biggest focus for the season is to tear down the negativity and individualism that has been too ingrained in our past few seasons and create a true team culture,” he said. “The goal is to become a family that is playing for each other and giving everything we have on every play. A lot of boys are being called on to step into leadership roles a bit sooner than they may on other, deeper teams. If everyone buys into the coaches’ plans and executes, we can have a very successful season.”

NOTE: Interboro has joined the Pioneer Athletic Conference as a boys lacrosse-only school. The Bucs previously played as an independent with the Del Val League not sponsoring a boys lacrosse league. The PAC remains a 10-team league with Norristown not fielding a team in 2018.

OTHERS

Daniel Boone

Head coach: Jake Snyder, 2nd season
Last year’s record: 0-10 Berks I, 4-14 overall
Players to watch: Tommy Buchert, def.; Kyle Golden, mid.; Ben Sjosten, LSM.
Outlook: A young squad will hope to get into the league win column under second-year coach Snyder, who was voted Berks Coach of the Year in 2017.

Hill School

Head coaches: Chris Chirieleison and Ned Ide
Last year’s record: 7-9 overall (3rd in Mid-Atlantic Prep League)
Players to watch: Seniors JJ Pickard, mid.; Mike Nastasi, mid.; Tres Munro, def.; James Krick, def.
Outlook: Chirieleison and longtime former head coach Ide will serve as co-head coaches this season after the departure of Dave Mullen. The Blues faltered down the stretch in 2017, losing their last five games including a 10-goal loss to archrival Lawrenceville. Finishing stronger will be a priority this season, but so too will be building chemistry with an inexperienced team. Ide figures the defense to be Hill’s rock, while All-Area second team pick Pickard returns in the midfield. A quick maturation process will go far in getting Hill toward a winning record and closing on its goal: a MAPL championship. Hill has extra motivation this season too as a host of the National Prep Lacrosse Championship, a postseason invitational featuring top prep schools on the East coast from May 16-20.

Perkiomen School

Head coach: David Antoniewicz, 1st season
Last year’s record: 6-8 overall (3rd in Tri-County League)
Players to watch: Seniors Chandler Gavin, att.; Jiho Park, def. Juniors Paul Schlabach, mid.; Liam Brassington, mid.; Adam Mancini, goalie. Sophomore Michael Berkheimer, mid. Freshman Harrison Gavin, att.
Outlook: Transition will be a key word for the Perk School boys lacrosse team this season. It comes in the form of new head coach Antoniewicz, who played at Susquehanna University from 2001-05. Antoniewicz will look for the Panthers to get out and run as they try to move atop the Tri-County League. “We should see some great offensive production from the attackmen this year. They have the ability to get to the goal and get good shots. The speed from our middies should help in the transition game, and will lead to scoring opportunities.” Adam Mancini steps into goal after the graduation of fixture Ben Williams. Antoniewicz expects a tight race in the Tri-County League. ‘Every team will match up well against each other. It will be a battle to come out on top,” he said. “As a team, we want to get back to the very top of our league.

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