Mount St. Mary's has almost three weeks before opening the season at Delaware on Feb. 25, but it appears that there's an early leader in the clubhouse for the spot as the third starting defenseman.
Sophomore Shane Pierce is competing with sophomore Tim Durkin and freshman Kyle Bryant, but for now, coach Tom Gravante said Pierce is in line to join senior Brendan Rooney and junior Kevin Downs as the starting defensemen.
The defense met Lehigh in a scrimmage two weeks ago without Rooney (sore hamstring) and Downs (sprained hand), which allowed the coaching staff to get a good look at Pierce, Durkin and Bryant as starters.
"The kids did a nice job," Gravante said. "I think once we're healthy and back to full strength, it'll be Kevin Downs, Brendan Rooney and probably Shane Pierce. ... Hopefully, we'll be able to rotate a lot of these young men in and get them more experience."
The jury is still out on the team's starting long-stick midfielder. Matt Ward, a junior transfer from Robert Morris, was slated to assume the role, but academic issues have derailed his candidacy.
So the coaches' focus has shifted to senior Kevin O'Beirne, junior John Anderson and sophomore Brett Shukri.
"They're all solid long-stick middies, and we're not concerned with them not getting the job done," Gravante said.