MAHOPAC, N.Y.— With the loss of longtime standout midfielders Christian Donahoe and Dan Foley to graduation, Mahopac lacrosse is poised to have an entirely different look in 2017.
“Last year it was nice having [Foley and Donahoe] around but it has created some openings for some guys to see what they can do,” said Tony Tanzi, who serves as the team’s co-head coach alongside Sean Mohammed. “Some guys—now that they are in a brighter light—are taking on a bigger role. We saw it during winter league. Guys are stepping up in terms of taking more offensive roles for us. In general, we have to play as a team this year. We can’t give the ball to Dan Foley and have him create for us.”
For a youthful team short on varsity experience, Andrew Evans figures to be the great equalizer. The Marist-bound senior emerged as the section’s top faceoff man a year ago, winning 332 of 468 draws (71 percent) to help Mahopac hog possession after possession. Evans also proved to be more than just a FOGO, using his powerful outside shot to record 18 goals.
“Andrew Evans is one of those people who has the ability to be one of the best players in the section,” Tanzi said. “It’s like you are starting a fast break with your best guy after every single goal.”
George Weiss and Jack Sarfaty are slated to round out the top midfield line. A trio of freshmen—Tommy Elliott, Zach Esteves and Andrew Dazi—will be counted on to provide depth.
Ryan Dugan, a returning junior, will anchor the attack. At 6-foot-4, Dugan has the size to post up opposing defensemen and the vision to find his teammates. He showed flashes last year as a sophomore, racking up 19 goals and 18 assists. Look for him to take on a bigger role as a creator in 2017.
“The rest is pretty open,” Tanzi said of his starting attack line. “We return Shane McDonald, a senior, who saw some time last year. He will see some time down there as well.”
Overall, Mahopac’s offense figures to rely much more on ball movement than isolation-heavy dodging.
“We don’t have guys who can just run down the field and score—with the exception of Andrew Evans,” Tanzi said. “We need to create offense with off-ball movement and stuff like that.”
Andrew Wright, a skilled technician, is back to spearhead the defense. Tanzi has high hopes for the senior close defenseman, who will likely match up against the opposition’s top offensive weapon.
“Andrew Wright is someone to watch as one of the better guys in the section,” Tanzi said. “He was one of our better guys last year. He’s a good takeaway guy, can run with most guys and he’s aggressive and a great leader. Last year he was stuck behind guys like Aidan Hynes and Zac Carlin. This year we will see more from him and he’s going to be leading that defense.”
Sophomore Zach Puckhaber, an end-to-end threat at long-stick midfield, is a newcomer to watch. He was pulled up for last year’s sectional run. Dillon McDonough, an imposing football player, will also play a key role at close defense. Jack McDonald is another defenseman expected to contribute.
Sophomore Mike Argila is pegged to start between the pipes after seeing some spot time in a few games last season as a freshman.
Per usual, Mahopac has assembled a rigorous schedule that includes marquee showdowns against Northport, Long Island (April 1), Mamaroneck (April 5), Somers (April 11), Yorktown (April 19), Fox Lane (May 1) and Pleasantville (May 9). The Indians are chasing the program’s 10th Section 1 title and first since 2011.
“We always expect to go as far as we possibly can,” Tanzi said. “As a program, we always want to play our best all year—but it’s a matter of who is really playing their best lacrosse come May. That’s the way we have always been. We take a lot of pride in the way that we play at the end of the year because that’s what matters most. We design our schedule to kind of reflect that. It’s a buildup to prepare us for the sectionals. Lately, that’s why we have been getting a No. 8 or 9 seed going into the playoffs. It always seems to help us out. We got to the semis last year and the final the year before that, so we are trying to do the same this year.”