June 27th, 2015 1:23 am

First Posted: 8/20/2013

Pittston Area and Wyoming Area each lost a handful of key players from last year’s solid field hockey squads. But both have reloaded.

In a solid Wyoming Valley Conference, the two local teams will each vie for a spot on top of their respective divisions. The Patriots had a better season a year ago with a 13-3 mark. But the Warriors played competitive hockey all season long. It could be a great year for field hockey in the 2013 season.

Pittston Area will be surrounded by a cast of seniors. With 10 returning, the Patriots can build of off last season’s stellar 13-3 record. Returning leading scorer Dana Maurizi, who had 17 goals and an assist last season will lead the offense.

“They have logged a lot of minutes and understand how we as a program want to play on both sides of the field,” PA coach Caitlin Hadzimichalis said. “We have some up-and-coming players in our sophomore class who are looking to make an impact immediately.”

Although the Patriots have 10 seniors, they will be without a trio of players that played a big role in last year’s performance. Each gave something different to the Pittston Area squad.

Liz Mikitish, Sara Czerniakowski and Julia Shandra will be missed, according to Hadzimichalis. Mikitish, the Patriots’ starting center-midfielder, was the team MVP for four years and a 2-year captain.

“Each had a strong leadership presence within the team both on and off the field,” the coach said.

The Patriots have some high expectations, but it won’t be without a contest from the reigning division champions Northwest. The competitive league will feature some tough games with Tunkhannock and Meyers.

“We expect to compete for the top spot of our division this season,” Hadzimichalis said. “We are returning a lot of players

The same expectations go for Wyoming Area. A team that finished 8-9 a year ago expects to get better behind a team that came to camp in great shape this year.

Coach Lunda Comiskey will be without Serra Degnan and Gabrielle Alberigi, team captains and leaders on the field from last season. Also, Lexi Coolbaugh, an athletic forward and goalie will be tough to replace.

But the defense is mostly intact for the Warriors. Sally DeLuca and Abby Schwedtman are returning captains and play a major role in the defense, according to Comiskey.

“High expectations,” Comiskey said for this year’s team. “They came in faster, stronger and more physically fit this year compared to last year. Most of our team plays hockey year round.”

Comiskey had the same comments according to how the league is shaping up that Hadzimichalis did. The Wyoming Valley Conference has always been a strong field hockey league. This year will prove to be no different.

“All of the teams in the WVC can pose a big threat,” Comiskey said. “It’s the team who prepares beforehand and comes to play that day that will win.”

Wyoming Area opens its season at Holy Redeemer on Friday. Pittston Area opens up at last year’s division champions Northwest on Sept. 4.

But one of the biggest showdowns of the season will come in October. The two teams will battle in the 4th annual “I Am Beautiful” charity game on Sunday, Oct. 6.