Wyoming Area returns a team that is both young and experienced as it prepares for its second season of Wyoming Valley Conference boys lacrosse.
The Warriors picked up one win in their debut season and bring back nine of 10 starters from that team, including seven sophomores and two juniors.
Wyoming Area coach Shaun Rohland expects the top half of the league – last year’s four winning teams, including unbeaten Division 1 champion Delaware Valley, Division 2 champion Scranton Prep, Dallas and Crestwood – to remain the same, but he expects as season two progresses for the Warriors to close the gap.
“We’re hoping to be in that mix as well by the end of the season,” Rohland said. “Those are the teams that we strive to get to their level.”
Rohland said the players on the team have improved their skills between the end of last season and the start of this season. He said that improvement was evident to his two volunteer assistants, Robbie Switzer from the Valley Laxers and Jake Yaple, who played goalie at Lake-Lehman the last four years.
Now, the Warriors will have the chance to work together as a team again to see how quickly they can climb through the ranks of a relatively young league.
The biggest improvement may be seen first on both ends of the field.
“I think our three attack have come a long way,” Rohland said of the sophomore offensive combination of Alex Hawk, Anthony DeAngelo and Jake Urban.
The defense features some physical strength in the two junior returning starters, Dante DeLuca and Dylan Kostak, both coming off football seasons where they received some all-star recognition.
DeLuca will move from long stick midfielder to try to strengthen the back line.
“Dante was at the top last year, but we’ve moved him down to play lower defense against better players,” Rohland said. “Conor McCormick played over the summer at King’s College and Dylan (Kostak) was a football player.
“So, I’d say the areas we look best at are our low defense and our three offensive players.”
The midfield features three more experienced sophomores, Sam Greenfield, Rob Trottini and Justin Joseph.
Rohland expects sophomore Curt Hager to be ready to take over in goal. Hager came out last season, worked on the position in practice, then spent the summer getting additional training to be ready for this year.
Alex Gonzalez, a sophomore who has put a lot of time into learning stick skills since becoming interested in January, and freshman Pat Musinski are expected to work their way into significant playing time. Rohland said he has other players back from last year’s squad who should be able to get into the playing time.
The chance to build more the program more in the future is also boosted by an increase in roster size from 23 to 32.
The Warriors open non-league play Wednesday at Wyoming Seminary. The league schedule does not begin until April 12 at Crestwood.
Wyoming Area plays Division 2 opponents Scranton Prep, Tunkhannock and Lake-Lehman twice each and Division 1 teams Delaware Valley, North Pocono, Crestwood and Dallas once each for a 10-game WVC schedule. During that time it will also play a non-league, home-and-home with Danville and will play one non-league game against Coughlin, which plans to join the WVC in 2017.