JACKSON TWP — Fresh off the program's first-ever district title, the Seneca Valley boys lacrosse team has its sights set on a new season, with a new coach to go with it.
Lance Diamond was approved for the position in January, taking over for Peet Poillon, a former star player at Seneca who guided the Raiders for two seasons.
A good amount of talent was lost to graduation, but the cupboard is certainly not bare.
Junior attacker Tanner Pfeffer and senior midfielders Derek Finney, Wendell Frank and Cole Fyock return as starters after helping the Raiders average more than 10 goals per game in 2012.
“Frank is a very strong two-way midfielder who consistently creates offensive scoring chances and is a threat every time he touches the ball,” said Diamond. “Finney has been moved from attack to midfield this season. His speed on dodges and his hard shot are going to produce great scoring opportunities for us.”
The defense should be in good hands with seniors Luke Reed and Josh Headley.
“They are now in their third year as starting defenders,” Diamond said. “Their athleticism and defensive IQ will allow them to match up with the best offensive players in the WPIAL.”
Paul Cundiff will step in as SV's starting goalie. According to Diamond, the sophomore has a lot of potential.
“He brings not only a tremendous amount of talent between the pipes, but is also very athletic and able to create opportunities for us outside of the crease as well.”
Preview capsules for the lacrosse teams at Seneca Valley and Mars follow.
Coach: Justin Karam, first season
Projected top players:Attack-Will King (Sr.), Zac Sicher (Fr.) and Blake Thompson (Fr.); Midfield-Hunter Mincer (So.); Defense-Nick Cimini (Fr.) and Peter Stahl (Fr.); Goalie-Pat Morrow (Fr.)
Note: This is the Planets' first season of varsity competition after several years of organized youth teams. Karam, a Butler High graduate, played in high school and most recently was a coach for Butler's junior varsity team.
Karam says: “It's a big jump to varsity for our kids and I'm not concerned with our record. As long as we continue to improve this season, I'll be happy.”
Coach: Lance Diamond, first season
2012 finish: The Raiders won the first WPIAL (Division I) title in program history and finished 17-2 overall.
Returning starters:Attack-Tanner Pfeffer (Jr.); Midfield-Derek Finney (Sr.), Wendell Frank (Sr.) and Cole Fyock (Sr.); Defense-Luke Reed (Sr.) and Josh Headley (Sr.)
Diamond says: “I believe our team's strengths this season will be with our senior class (12 players) stepping up and being leaders on and off the field.”
Coach: Katie Smolter, first season
2012 finish: SV was 11-5 and lost in the WPIAL Division I quarterfinals.
Returning starters:Attack-Natalie Roche (Sr.); Midfield-Maddie Koontz (Sr.), Kalie Soller (Sr.), Misha Demchuk (Sr.) and Lexi Pucci (Jr.); Defense-Lindsey Leddon (Sr.) and Rachel Leake (Sr.); Goalie-Hailie Sandor (Sr.)
Smolter says: “The girls have worked extremely hard in the off-season to prepare for this year. They are focused and determined to improve each and every game. I expect both individual and team success.”