Experienced Youth Set to Shine for Warriors

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. For a program that has graduated 23 seniors in the past two seasons, Lycoming would be justified if it was a program that had entered full-on rebuilding mode, and while the Warriors may not find the pantry stocked full of experience, the team returns five starters, including an All-American, and several other experienced reserves, making them set not just to avoid the dreaded 'r' word, but also get set to make a run at its sixth straight playoff appearance this May.

"We bring back a large majority of the team that played last year," third-year head coach Todd Hodgson said, "even with the loss of several key seniors. We still have some sophomores that got some big experience and we are throwing in some freshmen that will balance us out."

After all, Face-Off Yearbook Preseason All-American Stephen Romano (Sewell, N.J./Washington Township) gives the Warriors the immediate ability to be in any game they play. Over the course of his first three years, the two-time conference player of the year has willed the team to several wins, including dropping in seven goals in the program's first-win ever against SUNY Geneseo and seven more and the game-winner in overtime against Messiah.

"Anytime we step on the field this year, we potentially have the best player on the field," Hodgson said. "I think, even in our toughest games, arguably, he will be one of the best players on the field both offensively and defensively. We transformed his role this year with the new rules and hopefully, it will really showcase what his abilities are."

While Romano has the ability to win games almost single-handedly, the team also has several weapons back that won't make that necessary, including the Commonwealth Conference's top man-up scorer, a pair of senior veterans that have waited their turn in the midfield, a young defensive corps that includes two returning starters and a goalkeeper that accounted for 96 percent of the team's minutes in 2012.

Attack
While the Warriors lost their top two scoring options in the attack, the Warriors still feature a bevy of talent up front.

Junior Matt McCaffer (Marcellus, N.Y./Marcellus) is the team's top returning scoring option in the attack, as the junior finished with 16 goals and two assists in 2012. He specialized in man-up situations, scoring a Commonwealth Conference-best 10 goals.

"Matt's role last year as someone who played mostly man-up and scoring as many goals as he did was impressive," Hodgson said. "Now that he's going to be out there full-time, he has worked hard to be in that position and I think that is going to pay off for him."

Sophomore Sean Reilly (Corning, N.Y./Corning Painted Post West) also returns after leading the Warriors in assists in 2012, posting 19, which was also the fourth-best total in the league. The aggressive attacker came on late in the year, posting two goals and five assists against Elmira and scoring a game-winning goal in overtime against Elizabethtown.

"Sean's going to transition into a full-time attack role," Hodgson said, "and I think you are going to see his offensive numbers go up. He has some great vision."

Freshman Mike Cooper (Riva, Md./Archbishop Spalding) will join the team and make an immediate impact after having a successful prep career.

Although not necessarily the deepest part of Lycoming's team, the team also has several other options that can fill in the attack if injuries crop up, including senior leaders Lurie and Romano, who each have experience in the position.

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2013-02-20



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