New Providence, last season’s Kimber Division champions, have three experienced attackmen that will shoulder the load this season.
Seniors James Burke and Jon Ebert teamed for 61 goals and 38 assists last season and junior Jack Harvey led the way with 61 goals and 17 assists. With a pair of senior defensemen in Mimmo Coppola and CJ Kliesch anchoring the defense, look for the Pioneers to remain near the top of the conference. but head coach Vinny Carangelo said that this year’s success will hinge on the ability of the midfield and defense to come together.
• Montgomery brings back a host of younger players to a squad that head coach Tim Roy believes should be competitive in the Skyland. Behind attack Cam Garinger (34 goals, 18 assists last season) middie Matt Stagnitta (20 goals, 53 assists last season as a freshman). After just one year on varsity, Stagnitta has already committed to play collegiately at national powerhouse Johns Hopkins and freshman Jared Reinson is being scouted by division-1 programs, according to Roy. If youth prevails, Montgomery could make some noise in 2014.
• Watchung Hills faces as much of a challenge as any in the Skyland this season, forced to replace the scoring ability of 2013 Courier News Player of the Year Jeff George, who graduated as the school’s all-time leader in points. The midfielder scored 64 goals and added 29 assists last season and is now playing for UMass. But head coach Jamie Lovejoy said that a more balanced offense will be employed this season. He expects juniors Alec Orazietti and Ryan Cunningham, who combined for 60 goals last season, to lead the offense. Senior Zack Melillo should continue to dominate at the faceoff area and Danny Phillips and Matt Rozmerski are expected to lead the defensive unit.
• Scotch Plains-Fanwood brings back 16 seniors to a squad that reached the sectional semifinals a year ago, with captains Brian Heath, Sean Duthie, Joe Pagano and Justin Giacona leading the way. The midfield could be the strength for the Raiders, as Gabe Gibson – an NJIT commit – and Thomas Walker, who head coach Nick Miceli said will quarterback the middle of the field lead the way. Leading scorer Christian Gordon also returns as does leading assist-man Kervin Kerby.
• Chuck Apel begins his 35th season at Bridgewater-Raritan with a squad that’s capable of winning the Skyland Conference. Apel mentioned that attack Griffen Fiegel should be a leader on the field for the Panthers this season and an experienced group of defensemen will be looked to for leadership.
• The defending champions in the Waterman Division, Bernards, will be in a bit of a rebuilding year, according to head coach David Brothers. After losing three solid midfielders from a season ago, the Mountaineers will look to St. John’s-commit Declan Swartwood (38 goals last season) and Mount St. Mary’s-commit Robert Schaufler (37 goals) to shoulder the offensive load. The defensive corps is an experienced unit and junior Matt Bessasparis will man the pipes. Brothers expects this squad to get better as it goes along.