Equaling or bettering what it did last year will be a challenge for the Staples boys lacrosse team.

Staples graduated three players now on college rosters, including two at the Division I level -- from last year's team, which finished 13-3 in the regular season, 15-5 overall. The Wreckers were 33-7 overall the last two years, 29-3 in the regular season.

They will especially miss midfielder Kip Orban (Princeton), defender Matt Yeager (Colgate) and attacker Charlie Ross (Division III Union College). All three players figured considerably in the program's success the past two years. Staples will also miss goalie J.B. Brieg, midfielder Nick Maki and defender Kosta Papadopoulos, but it's not ready to concede defeat because of its losses to graduation.

"It's now these players' turn to keep the tradition going," Wreckers coach Paul McNulty said. "What happens with the current group of players is important. The expectations are for them to come together as a team with the qualities of good team spirit, the willingness to practice hard, and the willingness to play hard and smart in games. We are confident we can do it. We'll take it one practice at a time, one game at a time."

Senior captain Peter Paul started to come into his own last year on offense, and he will be anchoring the attack this year. Complementing Paul on the attack are senior Kyle Murray and junior Colin Bannon. Juniors Casey Ceral and Ryan Moran along with sophomore Jon Pacilio will also see time at attack.

The offensive midfielders of senior captain Jake Frimet and juniors Joey Zelkowitz and Greg Strauss enhance the team's firepower and athleticism. Sophomores Will Johnson and Jake Korus will be their backups.

Junior Jared Levi and sophomore Patrick Lesch anchor the defensive middies. Senior Thomas Jenkins is also expected to contribute as a defensive midfielder. Sophomore Isaac Paparo will play at pole middie.

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Also seeing time in the midfield are junior Sam Brancucci, sophomores Kevin Smith, Eric Zurmuehle and Jack Greenwald and freshmen Teddy Coogan and Tucker Bobrow.

Senior captain Adam Levinson and junior captain Quinn Mendelson anchor the backfield at close defense. Junior Lance Lonergan will also play at close defense. Playing at defensive poles are juniors Alec Yass and Garrett Jordan. Sophomores Ben Bjornson and George Ingber along with freshman Lucas Jackson will also play defense.

Replacing Brieg is no easy task, and the battle to take over in net is between junior James Hines and sophomore Cole Gendels.

"Zelkowitz, Strauss, Mendelson, Levi and Lonergan all got playing time as sophomores and are expected to contribute this year," McNulty said. "We've done well in four of our five scrimmages. Darien was tough, but they are tough for everyone."

Frimet said, "I'm very excited. I know we lost a lot of good seniors, Kip, Matt and Charlie, but we have a lot of good returnees, and the coaching staff is outstanding. We have a lot of kids who can play, and we'll have a good season."

This is McNulty's fourth year as head coach. He has a 44-14 record with Staples.

"Coach McNulty has been a really great coach since he got here and is trying to build a program," Paul said.

Levinson said, "He has turned around the program since his arrival. We're competitive with the top teams and it's all because of coach. Hopefully, with his guidance, we'll get better as the season progresses."

The Wreckers played two of their first three games against elite teams. They hope this will help them down the road.

"We'll be battle-tested by playing some good teams," Mendelson said. "This team can go as far as we push ourselves. We have to want to get better in practice every day, and we have to go into every game with a winning mentality."

Frimet said, "We don't have any Division I players like we had last year. Every year, our goal is to win FCIACs and states. We'll play our hearts out and go as far as we can."