Morris Catholic-St. Elizabeth 2021-22 preview: Looking to build off breakout year

MORRIS CATHOLIC-ST. ELIZABETH

Head coach: Chris Foer, first year.

Division: Charette

Last year: Morris Catholic had its best season since the program was re-established in 2016-17, as it finished 6-4 with a 6-2 mark in the Charette Division- which was good enough for the Charette regular season title. It lost to Newton-Lenape Valley, 3-2 in the Charette Cup semifinals.

Key losses: Jack Armstrong, Jason Briant, Aldino Guadagnino, Nick Leyhan, Damian Mercedes, Hugh McGuigan, Brendon Mustachio, Nick Pankowski.

Top returners: Averee Acuna, D, Sr.; Nick DiGeronimo, F, So.; Aidan Domenick, F, Jr.; Mia Foer, F, So.; Evan Lord, F, Sr.; Daniel Mark, G, Jr.; Hayden McGuigan, D, So.; Declan Norton, F, Jr.; John Tinney, F, Sr.; Mark Wilson, F, Sr.

Newcomers: Mercer Acuna, D/F, Fr.; Tyler Raucci, D, Fr.; Colin Shepard, D, Fr.; Jack Wilson, G, Fr.

Outlook: There weren’t many stories in the area, even the state of New Jersey that were better than Morris Catholic’s story last season. It started out with a season-opening win over Newton-Lenape Valley, which snapped a 41-game unbeaten streak. It rode that momentum the rest of the way behind a very strong senior class and claimed the program’s first division title, before falling to Newton-Lenape Valley in the Charette Cup semifinals. In total, the team’s six wins already matched the amount of total wins it had in the four years prior.

Now, the challenge for this program will be to maintain that level of success, which is not always easy to do, especially after graduating its top three scorers in Aldino Guadagnino, Nick Leyhan, and Hugh McGuigan. But the good news is it does have a lot of returning players up front, it’s starting goalie, as well as two of its top defensemen from last year.

Up front, senior Evan Lord is the team’s top returning scorer after posting six goals and an assist last year. Defensively, Morris Catholic will lean on sophomore defenseman Hayden McGuigan (6 g., 5 a.) and senior Averee Acuna (3 g., 3 a.). Look for some freshman to play a big role this year as well, with Mercer Acuna a player which can play both forward and defense. Tyler Raucci and Colin Shepard are two other freshmen who figure to slot in on defense.

Daniel Mark, a junior who saw most of the work in goal last season, is back this year. He’ll be spelled by freshman Jack Wilson.

Morris Catholic will face an uphill climb to replace the talent it graduated from last year, but the returning players it has along with the incoming freshmen provide for a promising outlook for the reigning division champions.

E-mail Mike Gurnis at michaelgurnis@gmail.com

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