CHESTERTOWN — Washington opens its men’s lacrosse season here Saturday at 1 p.m. against Christopher Newport. It’s the beginning of another ambitious schedule for the Shoremen, who are in arguably the most competitive conference in NCAA Division III.
Four teams in the Centennial Conference are nationally ranked, led by 10th-ranked Gettysburg.
All told, the Shoremen will face off against six opponents that are ranked in the USILA preseason top 20, including top-ranked Salisbury.
Jeff Shirk, who returns for a 10th year as the Shoremen’s head coach, will be looking for some of his younger players to step up immediately to offset the graduation of 11 seniors last May.
Heading the list of returnees is junior goalie Chris Del Rosario (Springfield, Va., Bullis School), who was the MVP last year for 7-9 Washington. He led the Centennial with a .577 save percentage.
Backing up Del Rosario are sophomore Ryan Leahy (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) and freshman Robert Eigenrauch (Durham, N.C.). Leahy appeared in four games last season and made seven stops.
Junior Burke McFillin (Exton, Pa.) and sophomore Kyle Gittelman (Davie, Fla.) return on close defense. Gittelman led the locals with 18 caused turnovers and was second on the team with 40 ground balls in 15 games, all starts. McFillin (12 caused turnovers, 24 ground balls) started all 16 games.
Four freshmen are vying for the other starting position on close defense: Nate Shaffer (Warrenton, Va.), Dylan O’Mara (Marlton, N.J.), T.C. White (Damascus, Bullis) and Jack Winters (Wynnewood, Pa.).
Junior Jimmy Blaszkow (Newark, Del., Salesianum School) is projected to be the top long-stick midfielder. He is a transfer from Merrimack, the two-time defending Division II national champion.
Others at this position are junior Matt Schellenger (Malvern, Pa.) and sophomore Matt Haag (River Vale, N.J.).
Senior Patrick Sullivan (Rocky Hill, Conn.), one of three team captains, is the most experienced short-stick defensive midfielder; he appeared in 15 games last season.
Others to look for at defensive midfielder are junior Dillon Pierpont (Shady Side, Archbishop Spalding), sophomore Jack Drury (Phoenix, Hereford) and freshman Erik Parry (West Palm Beach, Fla.).
Washington’s face-off specialists are senior Adam Mrowiec (Bel Air, John Carroll) and junior Joey Sivo (West Chester, Pa). Sivo won 19 of 53 draws last season.
Among the 2019 graduates are four midfielders who combined for 45 goals and 44 assists last season.
To punch up the offense senior captain Cooper Sloan (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.) is moving from attack to midfield. He handed out a team-high 28 assists last season and was second on the team in goals (30) and points (58).
Also at midfield are juniors Sean Reilly (Fallston, Calvert Hall) and Joe Tobin (Virginia Beach, Va.), sophomores Will Oliver (Gaithersburg, Landon School) and Alex Kilgour (York, Pa.), and freshmen Logan Clefisch (Pottstown, Pa.) and Kain Domenech (Severna Park, Severn School).
Reilly (10-7-17) and Tobin (9-3-12, 33 ground balls) both appeared in all 16 games last year.
Washington also is reloading on attack with the graduation of Casey Grieves, who led the 2019 team in goals (56) and points (73).
The heir apparent is senior Cody Pascale (West Chester, Pa.) whose line last year included 40 points on 25 goals and 15 assists in 13 games. He led the conference with 11 man-up goals.
Also back are sophomores Jeremy Wilson (Ellicott City, Centennial) and Ewan Temple (Virginia Beach, Va.) and junior Quinn Willis (Moorestown, N.J.). Wilson contributed four goals and six assists in just six games last year.
Freshman Brady McFalls (Gilbertsville, Pa.) will also see time at attack.