Manhattan hasn’t made the MAAC tournament since 2010. And while many, including Head Coach Drew Kelleher, thought 2020 could have been the end of that drought, they were ultimately robbed of that chance with the season being cut short. At the time the season was cancelled, the Jaspers were sitting at 3-3, coming off an 8-7 win over NJIT, and seemed to be starting to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.
But while they didn’t get that chance to end their decade long postseason drought in 2020 like they had hoped, the 2021 season may look even more promising for the Jaspers. Perhaps Manhattan emerges as much more than just a MAAC tournament. Maybe, just maybe, Manhattan can be a sleeper conference title contender.
One of the biggest contributing factors to the increasing optimism around this Manhattan program is due to how many seniors they bring back: eight. And amongst those eight are major impact players on both sides of the field. However, the largest impact by returnees can be seen on the defensive end.
The Jaspers had the 10th best scoring defense and the 19th best penalty kill (man-down) in DI through those six games this past season. And they will welcome back three key pieces of that defensive unit in starting defenseman Kelson Borisenko, Defenseman/LSM Rob Johnson, and SSDM CJ Scharf.
Borisenko, who has been a starter for the Jaspers for the past two seasons, recorded nine ground balls and caused four turnovers in five games this past season. Johnson scooped up 23 ground balls, recorded five caused turnovers, and dished out an assist. He ranked eighth in the MAAC in ground balls per game with 3.83. Scharf, who can also be an offensive threat, recorded seven ground balls and caused one turnover this past season.
In addition to those three returners, Manhattan will also have multiple key underclassmen back next season on defense, including starting goalie Brendan Krebs. The goalie has been the Jaspers’ starter for the past two seasons, posting a .597 save percentage last season off of 83 saves. He ranked first in the MAAC and sixth in the nation in save percentage.
The Jaspers also will get back some firepower on offense with attackmen Brandon Grinnell and Trevor Pelletier, and midfielder Luke Hanson returning for an extra year. Grinnell, who is a starter and has been an impact player since his freshman season, was fourth on the team in points last season with nine (7G/2A). Pelletier tallied seven points (5G/2A) and started in two games this past season. Hanson was one of the top threats from the midfield last season and the Jaspers’ second-leading point getter with 14 points (2G/12A).
Similarly to the defense, the Jaspers will also return some key underclassmen on offense in 2021, including sophomore attackman Kyle Gucwa, and junior attackman Liam Walshe. Gucwa was the Jaspers’ leading scorer as a freshman last season, tallying 20 points (13G/7A). Walshe was the team’s fourth-leading scorer with 10 points (7G/3A).
At the faceoff dot, sophomore Kyle Kobylinski looks to be their number one option again after going 23-for-62 (37%) as a freshman. He should take a step forward after, at least, a partial season of college ball under his belt. They also return junior Sean Baudille, who took a few draws last season, and bring in two freshman in Zach Davinroy and Keith Fraser.