What you need to know: The Golden Bears bring back four starters, including their entire midfield comprised of seniors Elliott Wascavage, Colin Mason and John Suntum. Overall, there are 17 players on the roster with varsity experience, including a strong junior class.

The midfield will undoubtedly be the team’s strongpoint. Ben Ballard will provide great leadership in goal and has been working very well with three senior defensemen in front of him (Victor Nannan, Nick Johnson, Arnett Dorsey). The defense is athletic and will look to keep Hammond in close games, which would really help out a young attack.

“We need our young guys to step up and play with confidence,” coach Chris Reagle said. “We have the talent, now it's a question of who is going to make plays this year.  We have several young guys in position to have breakout seasons — it is only a matter of confidence.”

Howard

2012 record: 9-2, 13-5

Top players: Seniors Nick Striebich (A), Ryan Mills (A), John Keohane (MF) and Cooper Gerus (MF); juniors Peter Emery (D), Bryan Mauser (G) and John Travisano (MF); sophomore Adam Friedman (D).

What you need to know: The Lions have finished in the double-digit win column in three of the last four years, and this season looks to be more of the same. Howard does have some big shoes to fill at the midfield position after losing all-county players Dan Kaplan (Lynchburg College) and Brock Wendt (HCC) to graduation. John Keohane returns to guide the midfield through the transition along with John Travisano and Cooper Gerus (Lebanon Valley), who tallied 19 goals last season.

Attackers Nick Striebich (Widener) and Ryan Mills (Christopher Newport) are back as starters and are a tough 1-2 scoring punch. Striebich — a second-team all-county selection — had 39 goals and 16 assists last season, while Mills (26 goals, 34 assists) was sixth in the county in scoring.

Peter Emery, Adam Friedman and Bryan Mauser are all back to pace a defense that allowed an average of 6.5 goals per game last season. 

“I think everything is a work in progress at this point in the season,” coach Jimmy Creighton said. “It is tough to tell what our strengths will be in May, compared to now.  I feel like we are athletic all over the field, which I hope can be a positive for our team.”

Long Reach

2012 record: 0-11, 2-12

Top players: Seniors Daquan Dixon (MF), David Fox (MF), Vincent Valenza (A), Justin Brown (G), Austin Lintz (D) and Jack St. Hilaire (D); junior Brandon Reggie (MF).

What you need to know: The Lightning looks to have speed all over the field, led by captains Daquan Dixon, David Fox, Brandon Reggie and Vincent Valenza. Three-year starting keeper Justin Brown returns with help from defenders Austin Lintz and Jack St. Hilaire.

Marriotts Ridge

2012 record: 10-1, 14-3

Top players: Seniors Paul Bennett (D), Jack Dawes (D), Sam Hebner (A) and Duncan Campbell (MF); junior Austin Dorsey (MF); sophomores Eric Skogmo (MF) and Sam McCoy (MF).

What you need to know: The Mustangs were hit hard by graduation but have several solid returners back. They allowed an average of only four goals per game last season and defense will again be a staple of the team. Paul Bennett, a returning first team all-county defender, caused 33 turnovers and scooped up 72 groundballs during the 2012 season.

Jack Dawes is a second-year starter who will play a pivotal role on defense.

Sam Hebner was a part-time starter last year but looks to become the team’s go-to player on offense, while Duncan Campbell is a returning faceoff specialist who should be a top contributor to the restructured Marriotts Ridge offense.