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Pair of veteran defensemen won't start in Mount St. Mary's season opener vs. Maryland

Mount St. Mary’s is planning to open the 2014 campaign against Maryland on Saturday at noon at Byrd Stadium in College Park without considerable playing time from a pair of its most veteran defensemen.

Senior Shane Pierce and junior Kyle O’Brien are still in the stages of recovering from offseason surgery (meniscus for Pierce and separated shoulder for O’Brien), according to coach Tom Gravante.

“I don’t believe those men will be starting for us on Saturday,” he said. “It’s unfortunate. They’re still recovering from surgery.”

O’Brien did play in the team’s scrimmage against Richmond last Saturday, but will come off the bench if he can against the Terps. Pierce and O’Brien have played in a combined 57 games and started in 38 of them.

That is a significant departure from juniors Alex Stefkovich and Nick Firman, sophomores Alex Kestler and Connor Reilly and senior Phillip Lipka, who have totaled 29 contests and started in 12 of them. Gravante said Stefkovich will start, but the other four will compete for the other two starting spots.

Gravante acknowledged that missing Pierce and O’Brien could hurt, but he also pointed out that the duo has not had much time to get acclimated to the schemes drawn up by new defensive coordinator Joe Cinosky, a former All-American defenseman at Maryland.

“Coach Cinosky is very sound in his tutoring of these kids,” Gravante said. “It’s all about approach and angles and base, and I really like it. I like what he’s teaching the kids and they buy into it. It’s difficult for guys on offense to beat our guys. Some of our defensemen play a little too tall, and that makes it easy for offensive guys with quick feet to run by them. So we are doing some things this year that they haven’t done in three years. He’s still feeling out these guys.”

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