The good thing for St. Anthony's last year was that they only lost once to a league opponent. The bad thing was that the loss occurred in the CHSAA Championship against Chaminade.
Both teams have their sights set on making a run toward the final again this season.
Chaminade, as in years past, will be led by a strong defense. Tim McGovern and James Harris are two senior captains who will lead a sturdy defensive unit after they each had strong showings in last year's championship game.
After receiving time as a sophomore last year, James Brady will join senior Jake Serrano, who earned a prominent role, as two of the team's top midfielders. Senior midfielder Ethan Ellsworth, an agile captain, added muscle to his frame to avoid injuries, according to coach Michael Gallagher, and will be counted on to lead the attack offensively.
While they were more of a defensive team last year, St. Anthony's expects to have a stronger offensive unit, according to players and coach Gene Buonaiuto.
Senior captains Justin Carfora and Nick Cestaro are expected to lead the Friars' offense. MichaelAngelo Sini, who Carfora described as a "true forward who can help a lot on the offensive end," and senior midfielder T.J. Butzke have the ability to add several goals.
Juniors, including Beau Hornberger, who teammates have particularly raved about, are expected to step up defensively.
While the Friars and Flyers are likely the favorites to reach the league championship, St. John the Baptist and Kellenberg are improved and believe they are primed for successful seasons.
Fresh off a winning season, Kellenberg has 16 returning seniors. It's a balanced team that benefits from many seniors who started as juniors last year. Players said they are optimistic after early scrimmages and hope the success during the second half of last season has carried over.
Goalkeeper Matthew Houlihan is a captain who coach Bill Masiulis said was a "natural born leader." The senior is an aggressive stopper who seems to be very decisive on the field. Seniors Gabriel Fernandez and Ryan Pistone are defenders who are known to be extremely physical.
Three forwards who are expected to make an impact are John Pugach, Sean Moore and Vito Coppola, who bring a ton of speed to the team. Moore was a leading goal scorer last year and applies pressure to opposing defenses with a strong shot.
St. John the Baptist graduated 13 seniors but have a tight-knit group that is expected to compete. Nine underclassmen are projected to play significant minutes. The captains for the young team are junior Chris Abruzzo, a third-year starter on defense, and senior midfielder Kieran Hall, who is also a third-year starter.
Senior Matt Scorce will be counted on to score consistently while sophomore Aidan Keenan is expected to step up into a large role offensively.
"We'll need time to jell until October, but I'm excited about our leadership," coach Nick Gallagher said. "It's a competitive league and we'll be right there."