Avon GroveCoach: Eric Jackson (14th season)
Record: 8-2 league, 21-4 overall. Tied for Ches-Mont Championship. District 1 Champions. Lost to Conestoga in PIAA semifinals.
Key Players: Tanner Peck, ATT, Sr.; Ryan Cook, ATT, Sr.; Stephen Cyron, ATT; Bryce Reid, ATT; Beau Kush, M, So.; Eric Russo, M, Sr.; Anthony Cardile, M, Sr.; Will Schreiner, G, Sr.; Danny Norris, D, Sr.; Brendan McNicholas, D, Sr.; Nick Cardile, D, So.; Logan Atkinson, D, Jr.
Outlook: District 1 champs and PIAA semifinalist Red Devils return plenty of talent and seem poised to return to the state playoffs and make another title run. Peck (41 goals, 34 assists), a Daily Local news First Team All-Area selection, leads a strong attack unit with Cook, Cyron and Reid. Peck is heading to Penn State while Cook signed with Lehigh. Kush, a North Carolina commit, was DLN All-Area Second Team last season and leads a solid midfield along with Cardile. Avon Grove's strength will be in the back and net starting with Norris, another Ches-Mont first team selection. McNicholas and Atkinson help provide one of the strongest defensive pairings in the league while Cardile returns after earning All Ches-Mont second team at LSM his freshman year. Schreiner, another Penn State commit, returns in net and is one of the top goalies in the league. "Our goal is to focus on the details needed to compete for a Ches-Mont title,' Jackson said. "We plan to take the season one practice, one game, one play at a time. We have a lot of work ahead of us. We generated some momentum last year, but this is 2014 and we are 0-0 with a lot of tough opponents to prepare for.'
Prediction: Loaded roster makes Avon Grove a favorite to repeat for Ches-Mont and district title. Contenders for state title as well.
Bishop ShanahanCoach: John Heisman (5th season, 25th overall)
Record: 8-2 league, 13-4 overall. Tied for Ches-Mont Championship. Lost to Upper Dublin in District 1 second round.
Key Players: Dylan Alderman, M, Sr.; John Mehok, ATT, Sr.; Connor Davis, D, Jr.; Sam Gindhart, Jr. G; Sean McErlean, M, Sr.; John Weinstein, D, Sr.; Tom Seifert, D, Sr.; Eric Giannetti, M, Sr.; Mike Coladonato, M, Sr.; Ryan McNulty, D, So.
Outlook: Plenty of talent returning on squad that won its first Ches-Mont title and reached district playoffs last year. Only lost two seniors. Alderman (34 goals, 18 assists) leads a senior-led midfield that features Giannetti (fully recovered from broken leg last season) and Coladonato. Alderman was DLN First Team All-Area last season. Mehok leads the attack for the Eagles after earning Ches-Mont First Team honors last season. Weinstein and Seifert control the back along with Davis and McNulty, who gave a verbal to Loyola in offseason. McNulty will line up at LSM once again. Gindhart and Jason DeQuinto are battling to replace Anthony Wagner in goal, who made Ches-Mont Second Team his senior season. Eagles are solid in all four phases of the game. "The Ches-Mont is a mine field,' Heisman said. "It's going to be tough, but we are going to take it one game at a time and see what happens. We hope to go as far as we can. The kids have a state title on their minds, but we have to focus on the Ches-Mont first.'
Prediction: With all the talent from last year's championship team returning, Shanahan is a favorite to repeat. Expect the Eagles to make a district title run and clinch a state playoff berth.
Downingtown EastCoach: Todd Cliggett (4th season)
Record: 8-2 league, 14-8 overall. Tied for Ches-Mont Championship. Lost to Great Valley in District 1 Fifth-Place game.
Key Players: Kevin Meakim, ATT, Sr.; Ian Riehl, M, Sr.; Nathan Wingate, M, Sr.; Kyle Tucker, LSM, Sr.; Jake Peden, Jr., D; Ryan Hummel, D, Sr.; Mark Marx, G, Sr.
Outlook: Co Ches-Mont champs lost five all-league first team selections, including All-American Brandyn O'Connell (51 goals, 53 assists), but have plenty of key players returning. Riehl returns in midfield while Tucker retains at LSM. Both were first team All Ches-Mont last season. Meakim will lead the attack after earning All Ches-Mont honorable mention. Marx returns in net. Solid lineup all over field, but needs to provide offense to replace O'Connell and Lauletta's goal production in 2013 (107 goals combined).
Will play one of toughest schedules in state. "We are excited about this year,' Cliggett said. "We have a great number of returning players at all positions and are looking to be competitive, work as a team and see what happens from there. It will be a very exciting year.'
Prediction: Expected to compete for a Ches-Mont championship and make the district playoffs once again. In contention for state playoff appearance as well.
Downingtown WestCoach: Tom Slate (2nd season)
Record: 6-4 league, 10-10 overall. Tied for fifth in Ches-Mont. Lost to Downingtown East in District 1 second round.
Key Players: Alex Ataiifar, G, Sr.; Connor Ward, ATT, Sr.; Dylan Kreher, M, Sr.; Ricky Miller, M, Jr.; Mitch Meleski, M, Sr.
Outlook: Slate is losing a strong senior class which included DLN All-Area Second Teamer Jared Wolf (LSM) and Ches-Mont First Teamer Nick Caruso (D). Ward is the top threat on the attack unit for the Whippets. West should be strong in the midfield with Kreher, Meleski and Miller anchoring the unit. Ataiifar is back in net after earning All Chet-Mont second team honors last season. He is one of the top goalies in league. Slate mentioned his team will need to improve on defense after losing key players from last year. "We're going to rely on Alex, but he needs help in back,' Slate said. "The kids are willing and wanting to learn. We're going to give it our darnest to return to the district playoffs this season.'
Prediction: Defense could be a issue with a team that only has seven seniors. If Slate can maneuver through that, the Whippets have a good chance at competing for the top half of the league and returning to the district playoffs.
Great ValleyCoach: Tony Verna (8th season)
Record: 8-2 league, 18-6 overall. Tied for Ches-Mont Championship. Finished fifth in District 1. Lost to Garnet Valley in PIAA first round.
Key Players: Greg Merrill, M, Sr.; Max Kalick, M, Sr.; Jack Waite, ATT, Sr.; Ethan Joseph, ATT, So.; Josh Hughes, D, Sr.; Kasey Carroll, D, Jr.; John Suydal, M, Sr.
Outlook: Merrill returns to Great Valley a year removed from winning Ches-Mont MVP and DLN First Team All-Area honors. Led area with 62 goals last season along with 35 assists. Waite and Joseph will give extra scoring options on the Patriots attack. Joseph, who had 44 goals as a freshman last season, will miss the first two weeks of season with a bruised collarbone. Lost many seniors from last year's league championship squad, including Noah Joseph and Niall Durkin. Hughes and Carroll will lead the defense. "We have the potentional to be really good, but still have some work to do,' Verna said. "It's awesome to play in a super competitive league which makes every single practice competitive. Every game counts and we have to figure out a way to beta the top teams.'
Prediction: Patriots are always a threat with Merrill in their lineup and attack will be stronger once Joseph returns. They will be in the race for the Ches-Mont title and a state playoff berth.
KennettCoach: Sean Tischler (1st season)
Record: 6-4 league, 12-7 overall. Tied for fifth in Ches-Mont. Lost to Central Bucks South in District 1 First Round.
Key Players: Beau Schmeusser, ATT, So.; Jake Rose, ATT, Jr.; Hunter Schmeusser, M, Sr.; Henry Gaver, M, Sr.; Matt Petrick, D, Jr.; Zach Longacre, G, Jr.
Outlook: Young team coming off a return trip to the district playoffs last year, but replacing plenty of seniors including Ches-Mont first teamers Kevin McQuiston, Logan Tydryszewski and Alex O'Brien. Only five seniors on roster. Will start three freshmen. Petrick will provide immediate help for O'Brien's departure in the back while Schmeusser and Gaver will lead an experienced midfield. Longacre predicted to be one of top goalies in league. Young in the attack and will need to score goals to help mid and back. "Our guys worked as hard as they possibly could in the weight room during the offseason and set high goals of expectations of themselves for this season,' Tischler said. "The coaches believe that if our guys compete for 48 minutes they will put themselves in positions to be successful. With only five seniors, lots of guys will be seeing their first varsity action.'
Prediction: Play tough out of league schedule so slow start with new coach and young team is possible, but darkhorse to contend for Ches-Mont title. Expect a return trip to Distict 1 playoffs.
UnionvilleCoach: Noel Berger (1st season)
Record: 2-8 league, 7-11 overall. Ninth in Ches-Mont.
Key Players: Danny Donovan, ATT, Jr.; Jimmy Nowosiat, ATT, Jr.; Winslow Davis, ATT, Jr.; Dom DiBiaggio, M, Sr.; Chaz Wenzel, D, Sr.; Vince Di Placidio, D, Sr.; Ryan Hartley, G, Sr.
Outlook: Berger takes over a team that struggled in league play last season, but finished 5-3 outside of the Ches-Mont. He comes from Archmere Academy in Delaware, leading them to a 67-23 record and a playoff appearance in each of his five seasons there. Berger is looking for the Indians to make the district playoffs with his seven seniors on roster. Have plenty of upperclassmen in back with Wenzel and Di Placidio on defense and Hartley in goal. Projected to be the strength of team.
Prediction: Stong nonleague record with a .500 Ches-Mont record should get Unionville in the district playoffs. With Berger's track record, it's very possible the Indians can make that happen.
West Chester EastCoach: Jim Schorn (5th season)
Record: 0-10 league, 2-16 overall. 11th in Ches-Mont.
Key Players: Chris Gleason, M, Jr.; Chris Karagillian, D, Sr.; Steve Phelan, D, So.; Eric Frye, M, Sr.; Brian Hoffman, M, Sr.; Matt Haenn, Sr., ATT; Matt Erfle, D, Fr.; JD Carol, D, Fr.; Tom Gormley, ATT, Fr.
Outlook: One of the younger teams in the Ches-Mont had a rough go of it in league play, but Schorn said his squad took a step in the right direction. Karagillian, a St. John's recruit, was All Ches-Mont first team last season. Hoffman and Frye provide experience and depth in the midfield. Haenn will lead the attack with Gormley seeing some action early in the season. Plenty of underclassmen could see significiant playing time.
Prediction: Building its way into becoming a contender and should improve as season goes on. Earning a league win or two is not out of the question.
West Chester HendersonCoach: Paul Stankewicz (32nd season)
Record: 5-5 league, 11-8 overall. 7th in Ches-Mont. Lost to Springfield-Delco in second round of District 1 playoffs.
Key Players: Cody Pascale, ATT, So.; Nick Rizzo, M, Jr.; Noah Richard, M, Jr.; Greg O'Neill, M, Jr.; Evan Larmer, M, Sr.; Steve Warbarton, D, Sr.; Jason DePhillips, D, So.; Jack Twohig, D, Jr.; Colin Applebee, D, Sr.; Eric Beren, G, Jr.
Outlook: Another young team looking to replace two league first teamers in Adam Weaver and Chase Heisman. Beren will take over in net while Twohig (Ches-Mont second team) leads a strong defensive unit that includes Warbarton, DePhillips and Applebee. Larmer and Richard each were All Ches-Mont honorable mentions last season as they anchor a young midfield, but with plenty of varsity experience. Pascale is the main force up front for the Warriors. "We need to put the ball in net, but will be strong defensively,' Stankewicz said. "We're going to have to work for a playoff spot.'
Prediction: Defense is one of the strongest in league and gives Henderson opportunity to battle with contenders in Ches-Mont. They'll compete for a return trip to the district playoffs.
West Chester RustinCoach: Tommy Hannum (1st season, 10th overall)
Record: 1-9 league, 3-14 overall. 10th in Ches-Mont.
Outlook: Hannum takes over a program that is one of the youngest in the Ches-Mont. He is planning to give every player an equal opportunity and pushing the team concept to his young squad. 87 players tried out for the program, which Hannum was pleased with. Balanced on the attack, midfield and back. "The kids are putting their heart and soul into the program while I want to bring stability to it,' Hannum said. "There's good chemistry on this team and I'm glad to be rebuilding. We'll do our bets and have a lot of fun.'
Prediction: Young team with a first-year coach should improve as the season goes on.
ConestogaCoach: Brian Samson (13th season)
Record: 12-2 league, 15-11 overall. Won Central League Championship. Lost to Radnor in District 1 Third-Place game. Lost to La Salle College Prep in PIAA Championship game.
Key Players: Jake Scott, ATT, Sr.; Alex Mezey, ATT, Sr.; Pierre Atkinson, M, Sr; Connor Campbell, D; Sr.; Huntor Eaton, D, Sr.; Connor Ashton, ATT, Sr.; Matt Schlicher, ATT, Jr.
Outlook: The PIAA second place Pioneers have plenty of experience returning with 16 seniors and 17 juniors on a school thats seeking its fourth atate title in five years. Excellent attack with Scott (47 goals) returning after earning DLN All-Area second team honors last season. Ashton, Schlicher and Steve Hildebrand are strong at getting to the net and scoring goals. Atkinson leads a solid midfield. Campbell and Eaton highlight the defensive unit. Samson mentioned the defense will improve as season progresses. "It depends on how we come together with team chemistry, which is always the key,' Samson said. "We'll be able to put up numbers on the attack. I'm really excited about the guys we have. They're more experienced and physical. We'll work hard for every win we get.'
Prediction: Favorites to repeat in the Central League and a District 1 contender. Will compete for a state title once again.
Malvern PrepCoach: John McEvoy (9th season)
Record: 9-2 league, 16-2 overall
Key Players: Greg Pelton, D, Sr.; Kevin McGeary, ATT, Sr.; Ryan Hilburn, ATT, Sr.; Connor Glancy, ATT, Sr.; Chris Isenburg, D, Sr.; Trip Traynor, M, Sr.; Charles Kelly, M, Jr.; Drew Shantz, M, Jr.; Mike Mulqueen, D, Jr.
Outlook: Inter-Ac Champions lost 17 seniors, but plenty of talent returning to the Friars. Malvern is exceptionally talented on defense with Pelton (heading to Duke) and Isenburg (heading to Penn State). Pelton also was Daily Local News First Team All-Area in 2013. McGeary, Hilburn and Glancy head a strong attack that is expected to score plenty of goals. Hilburn was First Team All Inter-Ac and Second Team All-Area. Friars have plenty of potential, but could struggle first few games with new faces in lineup. "We lost a lot of seniors in all positions and it's tough to replace,' McEvoy said. "In the early going, we'll need to figure out our identity and who we are going to be. We'll be competitive, but will need to work real hard at it everyday. We can't just show up and expect to win.'
Prediction: Plenty of talent puts Malvern Prep in contention for Inter-Ac title once again. Defense could make team favorites to repeat.