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CYCLONES WELL-EQUIPPED FOR REPEAT BID

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In winning its first Frontier League “A” Division championship in eight seasons, the Watertown High School boys lacrosse team experienced a breakout campaign last year.

This year’s Cyclones, despite losing their leader and top scorer to graduation, aren’t satisfied with just this title — the program’s first since 2004.

“It was amazing,” Watertown junior midfielder Brad McKinney said of last season. “It was the first time a Watertown team had done it in a while and it was a great group of guys. It was what we were going for all year and we made it happen. This year we want to give it another shot and it’s definitely a goal of ours again.”

This Watertown team has reason to be optimistic since two of their notable scorers from last season — McKinney and junior attackman Eric Soderquist — are back and the team has been joined by talented senior attackman Kendall Vecchio, a transfer from General Brown.

This provides the Cyclones with a formidable scoring trio in their quest to win another Frontier League championship banner.

“I really expect a lot of great things from those players, among others,” Watertown coach Brian Navarra said. “Even with the losses to graduation, I think this year we’ll probably have a little more depth all around the field.”

While Rick, who led the league in goals (67) and points (99) last season, is off to play at the Division I level at Binghamton, McKinney has verbally committed to Syracuse, while Vecchio will attend another lacrosse power — Johns Hopkins — in the fall.

“Mitch was really big for us,” Soderquist said. “It’s hard to replace a guy you can rely on passing the ball to. He put up some big points for us and made big plays for us. But we’re confident coming into this season.”

McKinney and Soderquist combined to post 127 points last season, including 84 goals as sophomores, for Watertown, which will open its season by hosting Auburn at 6:30 p.m. April 8.

“We have a lot of depth and that’s a lot of points right there,” said Navarra, whose team lost only once in the league last year at 11-1 and finished 15-2 overall. “But it’s not about who has the most points this year, it’s about the team. Some guys are not going to have as many points and that’s because we’re going to need to play more as a team, spread things out and share the wealth.”

Soderquist totaled 69 points, including 49 goals, and McKinney contributed 58 points, with 35 goals and 23 assists.

“They all have their own talents,” Navarra said. “Brad is a phenomenal dodger, especially from up top and his shooting on the run is unbelievable. Then you’ve got Eric, who usually works behind the goal and is so shifty — he just gets a step on a defender and he’s just got such a unbelievably hard and accurate shot as well.”

Vecchio, who registered 37 points last year with the Lions, including 22 goals, hopes to play more of an offensive role with Watertown this season, as well as providing leadership.

“It took a little bit of time to adjust,” Vecchio said. “But the change is really good, it’s nice coming to a team like this.”

“He brings a lot of experience,” Navarra said of Vecchio. “Kendall’s has great vision, he’s a great dodger and a great shooter — and he always knows how to find the open man.”

The Cyclones also lost two other leaders on the field to graduation — defender Malcolm Lynch and goalie Matt Netto.

“We had some huge losses,” Navarra said. “But we have kids who made contributions as younger players last year, like Brad and Eric and (sophomore midfielder) Noah Taylor ... they’ve done nothing but played lacrosse year round and they’ve gotten a ton better.”

Vecchio added: “I’m very excited about this. Hopefully keep this good thing going here. I’ve always wanted to play with a team like this — and don’t get me wrong, I love my teammates at General Brown. But this is a really good opportunity.”

Last year, Watertown defeated rival Carthage, 9-8 down the stretch on May 7 en route to winning the Frontier League “A” Division crown, only to be beaten by rival Carthage in a Class A semifinal, 9-4, on May 26.

“It definitely motivates you,” McKinney said. “You never want to lose in sectionals, especially to a team you play in the league and that was a tough loss. But now we’re really looking forward to this season.”

Here is a look at the Frontier League this season:

“A” Division

Outlook: Watertown is the reigning division champion after winning their first Frontier League title since 2004. The Cyclones lost some key contributors to graduation, including attackman/midfielder Mitchell Rick, defender Malcolm Lynch and goalie Matt Netto, but are heartened by the return of “core group of players.” While Watertown is mostly young on the defensive side of the field, rival Carthage’s strength is with its defense, led by seniors Taylor Morgan and Adam Kehoe. The Comets offense will run through junior Bailey Wilkenson and senior Seth Leonard, with the graduation of Joey Hayes and Danny Conlin. Senior Casey Boulio and junior Paul Bracy are back to lead the midfield for Carthage, which finished second to Watertown last year in the standings, but knocked off the Cyclones, 9-4, in sectionals to reach the Class A final against Jamesville-DeWitt. Immaculate Heart Central returns 13 players from a team that won 11 games, including nine, in the Frontier League last year, and halted Carthage’s league winning streak at 69 games. The Cavaliers will be led up front by seniors Matt Moran and Pat Gefell, with Carpenter and Koelmel leading at midfield, and will be guided on defense by junior Jude Whalen and sophomore goalie Dan Grant. Seven players return to an Indian River squad that is a “hardworking team looking to improve their record this season.”

Carthage Comets

Coach: Kirk Ventiquattro (25th year)

2012 Record: (14-5, 10-2 league)

Players to watch: Casey Boulio, Paul Bracy, Trevor Gibbons, Adam Kehoe, Seth Leonard, Taylor Morgan, Bailey Wilkenson.

Roster: Casey Boulio (Sr., M), Alex Hike (Sr., M/A), Adam Kehoe (Sr., LSM), Seth Leonard (Sr., A/M), Taylor Morgan (Sr., D), Wayne Timpson (Sr., M), Paul Bracy (Jr., M), Trevor Gibbons (Jr., G), Alex Gillette (Jr., A), Bryan Peloquin (Jr., A), Josh Sanders (Jr., A), Gunner Serota (Jr., D), Jake Turck (Jr., D), Bailey Wilkenson (Jr., A), Travis Workman (Jr., D), Chris DeRonda (So., M); Tristan Hancock (So., G), Matt Raap (So., D), Josh Yelvington (So., M); Dylan Highers (Fr., M), Devin Lajoie (Fr., M), Alex Mack (Fr., A), Jordan Phelps (Fr., LSM); Sam St. Croix (Fr., A), Brennan Davis (8th Gr., LSM).

IHC Cavaliers

Coach: Denny Patrick (3rd year)

2012 Record: (11-7, 9-3)

Players to watch: Cole Carpenter, Dan Grant, Nick Koelmel, Matt Moran, Pat Gefell, Jude Whalen.

Roster: Greg Abbass (Sr., D), Lucas Clark (Sr., D), Pat Gefell (Sr., A), Nick Gervera (Sr., M), Matt Moran (Sr., A), Mike Morgia (Sr., A), Haden Baker (Jr., D), Robert Blackstock (Jr., D), Matt Guyette (Jr., M), Nick Koelmel (Jr., M), Mike Marra (Jr., D), Jarod Pignoine (Jr.), Jason Reape (Jr., M), Cody St. Onge (Jr., D), Ryan Tyler (Jr., D), Jude Whalen (Jr., D), Fred Barden (So., M), Ben Brosch (So., M), Cole Carpenter (So., M), Dan Grant (So., G), Nick Kramer (So., D), JP McClusky (So., M), Jordan Trudeau (So., M), Luke Renzi (A., Fr.).

Indian River Warriors

Coach: Greg Niewieroski

2012 Record: (2-11, 0-9)

Players to watch: N/A

Roster: Kyle Barker, Connor Bell, Crown Brown, Daquan Brown, Matt Comini, Cody Delles, John East, Justyn Hale, Darrius Holland, Devin Iams, Greg Gleisner, Jesse James, Kaleb Loar, Ryan Maloney, Cody Miterko, Logan Prudhomme, Kyle Smith.

Watertown Cyclones

Coach: Brian Navarra (3rd year)

2012 Record: (15-2, 11-1)

Players to watch: Brad McKinney, Eric Soderquist, Noah Taylor, Diamond Williams, Kendall Vecchio.

Roster: Trey Brooks (Sr., D), Cody Desormeau (Sr., D), Tom Ferguson (Sr., D), Jake Holeman (Sr., M), Nick Hughes (Sr., D), Andrew Keenan (Sr., A), Alex Lafex (Sr., M), Bailey Madden (Sr., M), Matt McCormick (Sr., A), John Petite (Sr., M), Mason Phillips (Sr., M), Willie Scott (Sr., D), Kendall Vecchio (Sr., A); Diamond Williams (Sr., D), Kyle Anders (Jr., D), Ryan Erickson (Jr., M), Mike Gleason (Jr., M), Ralph Jordan (Jr., M), Brad McKinney (Jr., M), Eric Soderquist (Jr., A), Anthony Donato (So., A), Austin Gibson (So., G), Tyler Hooker (So., D), Marcus Lavarnway (So., A), Will Sanzone (So., M), Noah Taylor (So., M).

“B” Division

Outlook: General Brown has won all four “B” Division regular-season titles since the Frontier League was split into two divisions in 2009. The Lions return 11 players, including their top two offensive leaders from last season — sophomore forward Cole Johnson and senior attackman Michael Roukous. Senior Tre Frank and juniors Jake Purvis and Colton Erb each return to lead in the midfield. Seniors Jake Humerickhouse, Brett Frears and Joe Simoneau are back to help anchor the defense and senior goalkeeper Parker Smith also returns, but the squad “must find a few more players to fill roles on our team,” Lions coach Tom Frears said. South Jefferson has 12 players returning, including seven seniors, and will look to improve on last season’s four-win season. This includes its top six scorers from 2012, including seniors Brett Maguire and Jacob Moulton, as well as senior defenders Tyler Deleel, Derik Hall and Zach Lanzar. Patrick Weiler is Lowville’s new head coach after coaching at the JV level the past four years for the program. The Red Raiders will look to better their four wins, including two in the league, from last year.

General Brown Lions

Coach: Tom Frears (15th year)

2012 Record: (8-9, 6-6)

Players to watch: Jake Humerickhouse, Cole Johnson, Jake Purvis, Michael Roukous.

Roster: Lee Bauter (Sr., A/M), Tre Frank (Sr., M), Brett Frears (Sr., D), Jake Humerickhouse (Sr., D), Michael Roukous (Sr., A/M), Joe Simoneau (Sr., D), Parker Smith (Sr., G), Connor Bero (Jr., D), Colton Erb (Jr., M), Bradley Jorgensen (Jr., M), Trevor Hughes (Jr., M/A), Ryan Lamon (Jr., M/A), Nick McCabe (Jr., M), Rob Pickeral (Jr., D), Jake Purvis (Jr., M), Matt Roberts (Jr., G), Brandon Sherman (Jr., A), Cole Johnson (So., A/M), Connor Purvis (So., M), Kyle O’Connor (Fr., M).

Lowville Red Raiders

Coach: Patrick Weiler (1st year)

2012 Record: (4-10, 2-9)

Players to watch: Eric Bingle, Scott Bingle, Matthew Bush, Robert Campany, Jacob Curry, Brandon Fayle, Michael Duffer, Connor Dykeman, Dylan Larkins.

Roster: Eric Bingle (Sr., D), Matthew Bush (Sr., A/M), Roger Cecconi (Sr., D), Jacob Curry (Sr., D), Michael Duffer (Sr., A), Connor Dykeman (Sr., M), Brandon Fayle (Sr., D), Patrick Kaufmann (Sr., A), Dylan Larkins (Sr., M), Logan Riley (Jr., G), Isaac Widrick (Jr., D), Janne-Heuric Wilske (Jr., D/M), Tyler Birchenough (So., G), Ben Bush (So., A), Robert Campany (So., M), Matthew Collier (So., A), Bradley Curry (So., A), Scott Bingle (Fr., D), Dalton Jones (Fr., M), Stephen Kaufmann (Fr., D), Tyler Snyder (Fr., M).

South Jefferson Spartans

Coach: Randy Fuller (4th year)

2012 Record: (4-11, 3-9)

Players to watch: Tyler Deleel, Derik Hall, Zach Lanzar, Taylor Lucas, Brett Maguire, Jake Moulton, Corey Slate.

Roster: Tyler Deleel (Sr., D), Derik Hall (Sr., D), Zach Lanzar (Sr., D), Taylor Lucas (Sr., A), , Brett Maguire (Sr., A), Jake Moulton (Sr., A), Corey Slate (Sr., M), Greg Gilligan (Jr., G), Zach Hickok (Jr., D), Philip Isberner (Jr., M), Matt Kerber (Jr., A), Alex Melo (Jr., M), Hunter Merrill (Jr., G), Avery Shelmidine (Jr., M), Andrew Short (Jr., M), Kyle Wratten (Jr., G), Mike Clark (So., D), Morgan Deleel (So., D), Benner Geurtsen (So., M), Eric Mullin (So., D), Austin Robare (Fr., M).

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