YORKTOWN, N.Y. — Yorktown finished last season 16-5, its 38th as a Section 1 champion and in the Class B state semifinals, losing a heartbreaker to Manhasset 10-9 at Middletown High School.

If the Huskers are going to get back to the states and win the school’s eighth state championship, they will have to do what they always seem to do and that is successfully replace a slew of graduated talent.

Yorktown lost a quartet of highly talented captains from that squad to graduation in Mike Dedvukaj (Monmouth University), Ryan Baker (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Dan DelBene (Manhattan College) and Nick DelBene (Towson University), with the first two being All-American.

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“Obviously those four contributed a ton to our success last year, so it will be tough to replace them,” Yorktown senior captain and goalie Liam Donnelly said. “That being said we have a lot of young talent that can surprise teams on both ends this year.”

Seniors Tyler Makar (St. Joseph’s University), Darren Mata (University of Scranton) and junior Jose Boyer (University of Notre Dame) are the other Husker captains.

“As captains we want to bring out the best in our teammates on and off the field,” Donnelly said. “It’s truly an honor to be a captain on this team. The four of us appreciate that and we want to make the most of this season.”

Junior Justin Cavallo (University at Albany), who is the Huskers’ leading returning scorer from a year ago with 45 goals and 15 assists, ignites the attack.
“Justin Cavallo is a big, strong player with a great shot,” Donnelly said. “Steven Veteri is a junior who is another big player, he’s got an excellent shot as well. Jamison Embury is a sophomore who is a great feeder, he has great vision behind the net and Shane Dahlke, a freshman, has one of the best skill sets on the team and is an extremely intelligent lacrosse player.”

Senior Stephen Foley, who is playing at Scranton next year, gives the attack another heady player who sees the whole field well.

Yorktown also has plenty of talented players who will contribute at midfield, with junior Kyle Casey (Albany) returning after registering 41 goals and eight assists last spring.

“Kyle Casey has an excellent outside shot, Nick Sanfardino (Catholic University), a senior, is a very quick and shifty dodger with another great shot,” Donnelly said. “Junior Dom Cioffi is another fantastic athlete who comes with a great skill set as well. Our defensive middies are all seniors, Darren Mata, Thomas Donatelli, and Ryan Curran. The three of them are going to be a big key to our success this season.”

Playing in front of Donnelly (Rutgers University) will be a rock solid defense consisting of sophomore Brett Makar (University of Maryland), Tyler Makar, Boyer, sophomore Brandon Meyreles and senior Joe Brancato.

“These are our five close and long stick defensemen that will be rotating in this year,” Donnelly said. “This defense is extremely athletic and smart, all of them with their own unique talents but as a unit they are looking good in practice.”

Donnelly said that he feels his biggest strength is his ability to move the ball quickly and start the offense off a save.

“This defensive unit has been playing in front of me together for years now, we all rely on each other and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Donnelly said.

If Yorktown is to win its second state title in three years, a strong work ethic will be the key going against a tough schedule that is made to prepare it for its postseason rigors.

“We have to work hard to win the section against some very tough teams, and continue through the state championship,” Donnelly said. “We all believe with our strength of schedule this year if we have put in the work we will be ready when playoffs come.”

Guiding the Huskers through that schedule will be a veteran coaching staff in head coach Dave Marr (14th season) and his trusted assistants Sean Carney, Rob Doerr, Dave Graham, Joe Colarusso and Mitch Lieberman.

Yorktown started its season with a 9-3 triumph against Cathedral Catholic on March 19 at West Point’s Shea Stadium. Leading the Huskers to the win were Casey (1G, 3A), Cavallo (3G), Veteri (2G) and Donnelly (10 saves).

Key junior midfielder Anthony Altimari (University of Delaware) stood out as well by winning 12 of 16 face-offs against the San Diego-based school.