Mix of experience, youth key for Panthers in 2018
Last year ended in a 15-4 disappointment in the Class D playoffs, but it came at the hands of a team that's been creating disappointing outcomes for years and years, perennial power Greenwich.
The Panthers are excited to get back out on the field to compete this year, but Mother Nature has not been their friend. Their 12-6 opening-game loss to Johnstown was one of the first few times they've actually been out on grass this season.
Despite the weather-related issues, Hoosick Falls coach Mark Marquart has seen his team gel quickly in the early weeks of practice.
The Panthers return a portion of its core from last year's 11-7 squad. The major losses to the team are goalie Mike Sprague, Justin LaPage and first-team Wararen League all-star defender Sean Yeung.
Returning for 2018 is the team's top scoring option in senior Guy Milliman, who was a first-team league all-star at midfielder last season. Hoosick Falls also returns first-team league all-star long stick midfielder Zaine Becker, along with second-team all-star David Everard.
This year's team is a nice mix of last year's talented core and a younger group looking to make a difference.
"It's exciting because you're balancing pushing the kids that are really advanced and the younger kids catching up to the X's and O's," Marquart said.
Milliman, in particular, is a player that clearly stands out for the Panthers. On top of being Hoosick Falls' top offensive threat, his leadership quality is second to none.
Those qualities are on full display when he's running the point in basketball and they translate easily into his game in lacrosse.
"If I make you into a great lacrosse player it makes you feel good, but if you build them as a good person and a good character, that's what the program is about," Marquart said. "He really is one of those people that is your shining star. He leads by example and he pushes himself to be his very best and he pushes the people around him to be the very best."
With Sprague's graduation last spring, Roman Vyvial has taken over the role as Hoosick Falls' goalie. Vyvial has some experience in the position at the varsity level as he filled in for Sprague last year at the start of the season when the senior was injured. Vyvial continues to adjust to being the full-time goalie.
"He feels a little bit of pressure on his shoulders, but that's never a bad thing," Marquart said. "His ears are open and he's working hard. He knows he's going to have days when he's not going to have a perfect day and that's fine. We're just going to work through it and work together as a team."
Just as in year's past, the Panthers know the top of their league figures to be a gauntlet. The Witches, along with rising power Cambridge, figure to be at the top of the heap in their league and Hoosick Falls is ready for the challenge to compete with those teams.
"With our mixed group, we take it game by game. If we push ourselves to do our individual best, we can compete with anybody," Marquart said. "Each piece just has to do their part. If we can work together as a cohesive unit, we'll push really hard."
Roster: Zach Cahill, Lucas Brogue, A.J. Hurlburt, Keegan Philpott, David Everard, Craig Sawyer, Patrick Smith, Leighton Holbritter, Caleb Jones, Zaine Becker, Nick Giordano, Dmitri Rose, Dillion Grogan, Thomas Holovach, Riley Drew-Cross, Roman Vyvial, Jacob Travis, Liam McGarvin, Guy Milliman and Jack Scroupski.
Adam Aucoin can be reached at email@example.com and followed at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.
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