Washington College bade farewell to a pair of defensive starters in goalkeeper Peter Stewart and defenseman Bryan Botti after last season, but that unit could get a boost from a familiar face.

Sophomore long-stick midfielder Jonny Poe is slated to return in time for the 2013 campaign. Poe, who recorded 34 groundballs and 18 caused turnovers in 2011 before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee prior to this past season, will join junior Stephen Pappas (32 GB, 16 caused turnovers) and freshman Gavin Shuart (12 GB, 8 CT) as long poles.

The luxury of having three talented long-stick midfielders has planted a seed in the mind of coach Jeff Shirk about possibly shifting one of those players to close defense where he could fill the spot vacated by Botti.

“It’s something we talked about as a coaching staff, and we have to see how it plays out,” Shirk said. “Stephen Pappas played close for us two years ago and did a great job at pole last year. It’s one of those things where we have three capable long-stick middies, and one of them is going to have to move to close so that we get our best guys on the field. The fall will answer those questions.”

However, the defensive midfield did graduate its three top short sticks in Dave Lundquist (16 GB, 6 CT, six goals and one assist), Michael Pancottine (11 GB, 10 CT and one goal) and Morgan Braendal (34 GB and one goal). Replacing those players could be just as vital as finding a new goalie.

“That’s one of my biggest concerns because we had so much depth at that position,” Shirk said. “Our short-stick D-middies with those three seniors knew what was going on. We really relied on them. I think what we’re going to try to do this year is, we’ve got some freshman midfielders coming in, and we’re going to make them D-middies to start. It’s very much like what we did with [sophomore] Kodie Englehart last year, and once they get a year under their belts at short-stick D-middie, we’ll transition them over to the offensive end, which Kodie did this year. So we’ve got a plan in place. Whether that plan works out as well as I’d like it has yet to be determined.”