Written by Todd Karpovich Twitter @toddkarpovich
Edited by Staff @NCLLax
(CONFERENCE PREVIEWS WILL DROP BY FEBRUARY 5th. ALL TEAMS THAT SUBMIT THE NCLL PRESEASON FORM WILL BE INCLUDED.)
Cortland has been one of the most successful programs in the NCLL and that trend should continue this season after the Red Dragons National Tournament appearance in 2022.
The team has talent and depth throughout the roster and will be led by senior attackman Joseph Lamson (Lafayette High School, New York) who had 24 goals and 20 assists last season when it was the Empire Conference champion.
“The expectation is to return to the national tournament and finish at least ranked Top 5,” said President and goalkeeper Christopher Cascio. “With over 25 returners and a record number of interest from new players to join the team, we’re ready to start where we left off last spring. Strong defense amplified with some explosive midfielders and sneaky attackmen will be the keys.”
Cortland went 7-1 in the regular season and 2-1 in the playoffs to capture the title. The club also went 3-1 in the fall with wins over Syracuse, RIT, and Binghamton and a loss to Cornell.
Cortland should be stout defensively.
Cascio (Oceanside High School) finished the season with 88 saves. He will be supported by defensemen Nicholas Defelice (Farmingdale High School) and Jack Paton (South Glen Falls High School).
The midfield will be led by Gunnar Johnson, a junior from Oceanside that had 12 goals and 19 assists last season. Also back are seniors Ryan Smith (Northport High School) and Alex Wenzler (Kings Park High School). Smith had 10 goals, eight assists, and 22 ground balls while Wenzler finished with 11 goals, 16 assists, and 12 ground balls.
Sam Rovner (Hewlett High School) joins Lamson on the attack and contributed eight goals, 14 assists, and 7 ground balls last year.
“Some players from our NCAA program, will also be joining the team this year,” Cascio said. “Cornell will be a notable opponent, as we look to reclaim the Empire Conference title, and after losing to them in the fall, the spring is a must-win.”
A historically nationally Top 5 ranked program, and some would say a decade Top 3 program as Maryland is a mainstay at the National Championship, bowing late in back to back seasons to Navy while also hoisting several of their own.
The Terrapins are looking to capture that crown again from the competitive Chesapeake Conference which boosts five nationally ranked teams. Throw in Rutgers, #14 Cortland, #10 Vermont, #4 Penn State and #2 Ohio State, you can see why the Terps will face a gauntlet.
Maryland went 9-2 in 2022 and returns both of its leading scorers — Evan Jones and Alex Sewell, who was sidelined by a late-season injury.
Goalie Sam Matusek, defenseman Jordi Anderou and FOGO Micah Kranzel also return after earning starting jobs last year.
“The strength of the team starts with our FOGO who is returning for his senior year after dominating the league last year as a junior,” club president Andrew Skiscim said. “Our offense is looking super strong again having
only lost one midfielder between the first two lines and a single starting player from the attack. Both have been replaced by a middie transfer and the attackman was replaced by one of our starters last fall that was studying abroad in the spring.”
“Defensively, we graduated 2/3 of the starting poles and our starting LSM. While our defense was dominant last year, we also caused a lot of turnovers and also had our fair share of penalties.”
Maryland lost seven key players to graduation but added several talented transfers, including midfielders Brennan Treacy, Matt Deans, and Erik Augustin, and talented freshmen, such as Nick Candella (Queen Anne) and Austin Conerly (Sherwood).
“I think that we will be fine on defense though since we have our starting goalie returning and between the two of them, the defense will hold its own,” Skiscim said.
Virginia has unfinished business after falling to Maryland in last season’s Division I quarterfinals.
The Cavaliers have a loaded roster capable of making a run all the way to this year’s championship.
The Cavaliers have a strong defense led by a mix of returning upperclassmen and a key transfer in Javon Smith, who was a two-time Ohio Athletic Conference Honorable Mention at NCAA Division III Ohio Northern.
The Hoos should also be able to score on any team as every single one of the starting attackman return as well as the addition of NCAA Division I Utah transfer Jack Reichert, who prepped at Lawrenceville High School in New Jersey and graduated from Western Albemarle High School where he was named First Team All-Central Virginia.
Doug Godine, a fifth-year senior from the Gilman School, leads the offense. He will be supported by fellow senior Taylor Musa, who hails from Riverside High School and is the state of Virginia’s all-time leading high school goal scorer. National player Ethan Ashley is also back on attack as he was the leading goal scorer for Team Korea.
Virginia will get a boost from short-stick defensive midfielder Brendan Knott as fellow midfielder Axel Gyllenhoff (Potomac HS) is looking to build off a successful first season with the club.
Virginia went 4-3 last season and was edged by National finalist Maryland 10-9 in the playoffs in College Park.
The Cavaliers have a tough schedule with Nationally Ranked games against Navy, Penn State and then a rubber match versus the Terps. Virginia has an active roster with more than 70 players has the more intense the practices, the easier the games will be.
Bryant should be one of the top defensive teams in the New England Conference. Allowing 5.0 GAA during the fall, the Bulldogs defense is led by Aidan Hill (The Hill Academy), Dave Marani (Silver Lake), Michael McNeil (Medfield), and Ben Fein (Hanover).
Last season, Bryant went 7-3 and finished the year ranked #14 in the final regular season NCLL rankings. The club also made its 1st national playoff appearance and will look to keep that momentum going this season.
“The biggest strength on our team is our defense, which has many great players on that end who all communicate well and can lock anyone up,”
club captain Michael McNeil said. “We have also been getting stronger on the offensive side of the ball as well near the end of the fall ball season. Players became more comfortable with each other as well as getting the offense rolling to score a lot more.”
Bryant lost eight seniors to graduation — four starters and two contributors on the attack.
But the club has new depth.
The attack is led by Spencer Peters (Wayne Valley) and Joseph Chiappetta (St. Anthony’s). Sophomore Jason Consiglio from Maryland powerhouse Calvert Hall will help lead the midfield with Harry Falowski (Joel Barlow) and Thomas Fruci (Walpole High School).
Several newcomers are also expected to make an impact, including Billy Gardner (Franklin High School) on defense, Vin Pesce (Westhampton Beach) in the midfield, and Keo Kiriakos (Masconomet) on the attack. Long-stick midfielder Gerrit McAloon from Frisco, Texas, will also battle for minutes.
Bryant has key matchups against #12 Brown, newcomers Tufts and Babson as well as conference champion #7 UMass to name a few, Bryant will have to keep the momentum going forward as the conference is as tough as ever.
“Our most notable rivals are UMass who we lost to in the playoffs last year and Brown, who we always have a close game as that game always goes down to the wire” McNeil said.
Last spring, Louisville won the Midwest Conference title and reached the Elite 8 for the first time since 2017. After a sluggish start in the National Tournament, the fourth quarter could not come fast enough for their opponent as the Cards made a remarkable run before time slipped away. Expect that knowledge to fuel an intense fire for 2023.
The Cardinals have a chance to go even farther this year with a high powered offense, depth at the “X” and an athletic midfield. .
Louisville return a solid corps in the lineup, including goalie TJ DiSantis (Oldham County), attackmen Ryan Dowling (Chattahoochee) and Braden Carver (New Oxford) and sophomore face-off specialist Hunter Satterfield (Central Hardin).
Louisville went 6-6 last season and knocked off defending conference champion Kentucky 11-8 in the Midwest Championship. The Cardinals also had a successful fall with wins over Division I Cincinnati (10-3) and Ohio (10-6) while ending up 3-1 including another win over rival Kentucky.
The Cardinals add some key freshmen with face-off ace Luke Lewis (Westfield), long-stick middie Brady Tucker (Little Miami), midfielder Luke Truffer (Guerin Catholic), and short-stick defensive midfielder Aden Lipsy (Brewster Academy). While 2022 ended at .500, expect Louisville to be ready this time around.
With talented returning players and a high-powered freshmen class, Oswego plans to make “serious noise around the league.”
Junior Carter O’Brien (Chenango Forks HS) led the team with 19 goals and five assists last season while FOGO/midfielder Jack Hyland (New Paltz) won 60% of his draws as a sophomore.
Senior Mike Rattinger (Commack High School) and sophomore Chancler Kiner (Homer High School) will help anchor the midfield, while Alex Couch (Watertown High School) will help patrol the defense.
With an unusually strong freshman and transfer class, we’re looking to make some serious noise around the NCLL,” said captain Christian Ferrara. “Our main two goals for this year are to finish .500 or better and make the conference playoffs. We also hope to be nationally ranked for the first time since 2018.”
Last season, Oswego went 3-7 but earned its first win over a Division I school in club history — an 8-6 victory over Albany. The club also won three out of its last four games with their only loss in that span to eventual Division II National Champion Union.
The team will get a boost from several transfers and a talented freshmen class.
Oswego added a couple of long-stick midfielders with sophomore transfer Jake Palmer Sophomore (Lowville High School) and first-year player Aidan Mcgowan (Skaneateles High School).
Junior goalie Logan Sather (Alfred State, Baldwinsville High School) is also in the mix, along with defensemen Andy Bishuk (Keuka College, Auburn High School) and Jake Crandall (Thousand Islands High School.)
Oswego is ready to tackle a challenging spring schedule in the Empire Conference, of which are several nationally ranked programs and former National Champions.
“Some notable contests for the spring will be rematches with Niagara, and Albany,” Ferrara said. “We look forward to playing Syracuse and likely one of either Cortland or Cornell. Of special interest is renewing our rivalry with Clarkson.”
Quinnipiac University has its sights on reclaiming the New England Conference title with an experienced team that will be complemented by a talented group of newcomers.
The program finished last spring with a 3-4-1 overall record with narrow losses to both UMass B and Bryant.
The attack is led by Jared Chase, a Cheshire High School (Conn.) grad who led the team with 15 goals and five assists, while Nick Curran added two goals and three helpers.
Long-stick middie Mike Cimis (Woodstock Union High School in Vermont) is also back, along with sophomore Nick Migliore (4 goals, 2 assists). The defense is led by senior and Randolph (N.J.) alum Alex Wanatick and fellow New Jersey native junior Matt Francis (St. Joseph’s Regional School).
“We have a very solid team with a good group of returners that balance out the field with newer players,” said President Alex Wanatick. “With a defensive heavy team, our strengths are on that end with clearing and man-to-man as our go to defense. Offensively, Quinnipiac is strong as they return four solid attackmen rotating one in the midfield corps to balance the field. Three of our attackmen are returners with the other an incoming freshman [Ryan Maher] who was originally committed to the varsity team. With quick ball movement, we’ll find success through our attack.
“With heavy competition within the New England and NY Metro conference, we look forward to some tough competition.”
In addition to the returning players, Quinnipiac has several transfers and incoming freshmen, including Maher from Garden City high school in New York, who is expected to make an immediate impact.
Ben Olmsted will provide depth at the midfield after transferring from Caldwell College, a NCAA Division II program. Tyler Stiewing from St. Joseph’s in Connecticut will battle for time in the goal.
Also in the mix are defenseman Quinn Saltzman (Apponequet, Mass.) and midfielder Daniel Francis (St. Joseph’s Regional, New Jersey).
These players will provide key depth for Quinnipiac, which lost eight seniors, six of whom were starters and four served as captains.
“More than half our team are new players and most are freshmen,” Wanatick said. “It’s definitely a new team compared to last year but they’re ready to come to compete for the title. … We tried to play harder teams in Division I this fall to best prepare us for the teams ahead. We are looking
forward to some good matchups against UMass B, UMass Lowell, Brown, and Bryant, hoping to make some redemption from last year’s close losses.”
Rowan University has a solid mix of veteran players and newcomers that has the club excited about the upcoming season in the Division II of the Liberty Conference.
The team, a regular program in the Top 20, has begun implementing new strategies for practice and games that allow it to play to its strengths and improve its weaknesses.
Rowan finished unexpectedly at 2-9 last year, but expectations are much higher for ‘23. The program is looking to compete with high-powered clubs, including West Chester, St. Joseph’s and TCNJ, while battling up and coming Williamson Trade and Rutgers-Camden: Drexel, a dark horse, will be another program the Profs will need to watch out for.
“Last spring was a tough season but we feel that we have bounced back this fall with extremely competitive games against #3 West Chester and Division I #20 Loyola,” President William Dennery said. “We are confident that our team is one of the best groups we’ve had in a while and our combined skill level will push us into the playoffs and beyond this upcoming season.”
Rowan has an experienced attack led by Sean McHugh (Delran), Cole Rueblinger (Washington Township), and Hunter Lippincott (Lenape), along with sophomore John Ipri (Delran).
Fifth-year senior Dylan Ritchkoff (Hamilton West) will help anchor the midfield with Ryan Giles (Lacey Township). Transfer Nick Enoch (Delran) will also see time in the midfield. Fellow Ryan Collins (Township) leads the defense.
With the fall W against Loyola and a narrow 9-7 loss to West Chester, the goal is to carry that spirit into the spring.
Slippery Rock goalie Joshua Wise-Harper is confident the team’s strong defense will be complemented by a balanced attack.
The club hopes to challenge for the coveted Three Rivers Conference title, several of which reside in Slippery Rock when the Pride were Keystone Conference champions several times over.
“We had a record recruitment this year and that brings lots of new and impressive talent to all areas of the field and plenty of potential to grow,” said Wise-Harper, who also serves as captain with Vito Pisani, James Border, and David Flath. “Currently our team is very defense-oriented, however, our attack has been really showing out recently and will become a vital strength before the end of the season.”
Slippery Rock’s attack will be led by James Border (Seneca Valley) and Brody Allison (Butler High).
Junior Anthony Malloy (Butler High) is back in the midfield and will get support from freshman Dante Bolden (Moon Township High).
Long poles David Flath (Stafford High) and Alexander Fleet (Norwin High) also have experience.
“A lot of the guys still feel the sting from our losses of last season and are ready to come out the gate this season with a vengeance and a win in their minds. If nothing else, my team’s determination is our greatest strength,” Wise-Harper said. “Of course, IUP is going to be the game we are most anticipating given our school’s long history of rivalry, however, Kent State and several of the other conference teams that have stuck in our minds and ones we look forward to competing with again.” Losing never sits well, especially for a program unaccustomed to it. Expect the Pride to reach their stride and surprise several teams this spring.
Saint Joseph’s University lost 16 seniors to graduation but the Hawks have reloaded and should be competitive in Division II of the Liberty Conference. Coming in hot at #6 in the preseason rankings, the Red Hawks lost a 2022 conference championship stunner to West Chester as they challenged the Rams for conference supremacy and have established a rivalry unmatched.
“We’re returning most defensive starters with an experienced midfield,” club officer Chris Kirby said. “The team is motivated and coached well.”
Saint Joseph’s top returning players are senior defenseman Chris Kirby, Paul Ruddy, and Alex Conn. The midfield also has experience with Nick Jones and Liam Connolly with junior Colin Hodgson leading the attack.
The top newcomers include attackmen Jimmy Beaudette (Long Island University) and Pat Cooney, midfielder Max Mulligan and defenseman Jose Coronado.
The Hawks dropped games to Villanova, Towson, and Vermont in the fall, all Division I programs currently ranked in the National Top 20.