(Photo Courtesy of Wagner Athletics)
Things haven’t been too pretty for the Wagner Seahawks as of recent, going 2-14 over the past two seasons. One of those victories came this past spring as Wagner went 1-9. Their lone win came against NEC foe Sacred Heart, 11-9, in comeback fashion. It marked the Seahawks’ first win over a conference opponent since 2017.
Wagner followed up that victory with a strong performance against eventual NEC Semifinalist Hobart, falling to the Statesmen 8-9 in overtime. Additionally, in their second contests of the season against LIU the Seahawks found themselves tied with the Sharks, 7-7, at the half and took multiple one-goal leads in the second half before LIU ended the game on a 7-1 run to win 18-13.
The wins haven’t been as plentiful as they would like, but this Wagner program has shown that they can put up a fight against some of the best in the NEC and has finally gotten that conference losing streak off their back. Heading into the 2022 season, the Seahawks will looking to take another step forward and keep progressing in the fourth year of the Bill McCutcheon era.
Last season, Wagner featured the nation’s third-worst scoring defense as they allowed 16 goals per game. The Seahawks also ranked last in caused turnovers per game (4.56) and were tied with Siena for the 53rd in DI in man-down defense, coming up successful on 60% of such opportunities. Despite the struggles this unit had in 2021, it is perhaps the most intriguing area of this squad coming into this spring with as much room for growth as this unit has.
Wagner saw eight different defensemen get starts last season with Brendan Higgins (27GB/10CT) and Tommy Scarpello (19GB/5CT) as their most productive options at the position. The duo saw action in all 10 games with Higgins earning eight starts and Scarpello starting every contests. Nick Azzopardi (5GB/4CT), Giovanni Armocida (9GB/4CT), Daren Mayer (18GB/4CT), and Matt Morris (15GB/1T), who returns for a fifth season, all saw starts at close last season and will likely be in the mix on the back end in some form again in 2022.
In addition to the returnees they have, Wagner also brings in Stony Brook grad transfer Daniel Cassidy who could be an immediate impact player and provide a significant spark to this unit. Cassidy started all 14 contests for the Seawolves last season at close defense, recording 33 ground balls and 12 caused turnovers.
Junior Danny Brady returns to anchor this defense in cage. A two-year starter, he is coming off a sophomore campaign in which he made 158 saves with a .527% save percentage.
On the offensive end of the field, things weren’t much better for the Seahawks in 2021 as they ranked last in DI in scoring offense with an average of seven goals per game. Wagner only eclipsed double digit goals twice this past season, doing so against LIU and Sacred Heart.
Stephen Dwyer led the Seahawks’ offense last season with 23 points off 14 goals and nine assists. Now a senior, Dwyer has been an impact player for this offense since he stepped foot on campus and that doesn’t look to change this spring as he is one again the biggest impact returnee on that end of the field, and their only returning top five point-getter with the loss of Philip Buque, Justin White, Tim Schmidt, and Nic Ancona.
In addition to the aforementioned Dwyer, Wagner also returns a pair of strong weapons in Tyler Lawton and Benjamin Stewart. Lawton played in seven games with one start last season and put up just seven assists, however he started all six games during the 2020 season and was the team’s fifth-leading scorer during that shortened campaign. Stewart was the Seahawks’ sixth-leading scorer this past season, coming off the bench in nine games and tallying seven points off five goals and two assists. The pair should see increased roles this coming spring.
Depauw (DIII) grad transfer Dan McCauley could also make an impact this season as a veteran presence on that offense. He had 20 points (16G/4A) as one of the Tigers’ top scorers last season.
At the faceoff dot, Matt Rueter returns after serving as the team’s top option last season and going 45-for-109 (.413%). Bobby Blewett went 34-for-91 (.374%) as the backup and also returns. The pair will be looking to improve drastically in a conference that features multiple top-flight faceoff men.