Wagner Has Plenty of Room For Growth in 2021

(Photo Courtesy of Wagner Athletics)

The most successful stretch over the past decade for the Wagner Seahawks was from 2016-2017. They went 6-9 overall both seasons, which is a record for most wins in program history. They followed those two historic seasons up by going 4-10 and 2-12 in 2018 and 2019, which was the first season under Bill McCutcheon.

During the shortened 2020 season, the Seahawks went 1-5. Their lone win came on the road against LIU, 9-8.

Heading into the third season of the McCutcheon era, the Seahawks will be looking to get back to the level of play we saw from them during that stretch from 2016-2018. While the past few seasons haven’t been pretty on Staten Island, the Seahawks have certainly shown flashes that make you believe they can eclipse, at least, four wins once again. And with the talent and experience they return on both ends, that task could very well be completed this spring.

One of the biggest reasons for any bit of confidence around this Wagner program in 2021 is due to how many fifth-year guys they return. The Seahawks return a total of six players for an extra season. And the majority of them are on the offensive end.

Attackman Nic Ancona (6G/4A), who has been a starter since he stepped foot on campus, is their biggest impact returnee on the offensive side. Reserve midfielders Tim Schmidt (3G/3), Matt Cechini, and Matt McAnaney will also all be back and looking to make a significant impact this season. Cechini and McAnaney both have the skillset to play both ways.

Starting defenseman Connor Sweeney (3GB/3CT) is the Seahawks’ only fifth-year returnee on the back end. Faceoff man Nick Warren, who has served as their primary option for the past two seasons, will also be back. He went 44-for-93 (.473) last season.

In addition to the fifth-year guys, the Seahawks return a good chunk of younger talent on the offensive end that is sure to be very reliable again this spring. And the majority of that younger talent lies at the midfield spot. Junior Stephen Dwyer (12G) led the team in goals last season and has been one of their primary shooters over the past two seasons. Sophomores Jake Garb (11G/4A) and Tyler Lawton (7G/1A) were the Seahawks’ second and third leading goal scorers last season. Dwyer, Garb, and Lawton all made up the Seahawks’ starting midfield unit last season.

Sophomore Mikey Vanaman (4G/4A) got the starting nod at attack last season as a freshman and should also be a big factor on the offensive end again in 2021.

With Sweeney returning for an extra season, the Seahawks’ will have their entire starting defense back this spring. Junior Tommy Scarpello (8GB/6CT) and sophomore Brendan Higgins (13GB/4CT), who is listed as an LSM, were both first-time starters as a sophomore and freshman last season. With a year under their belt as a unit, this group should see some forward progression.

Danny Brady served as the Seahawks’ starting goalie as a freshman last season. He churned out a .436 save percentage in the six games that they got in last season. He should also progress this spring and improve after a year under his belt.

With a very solid mix of key veterans and young guys returning from last year’s squad, this Wagner squad has some serious room for growth and improvement. And that could very well lead to adding more Ws in the win column and potentially climbing back to the level they were at just three to four seasons ago.

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