Tunkhannock Area lacrosse has a new head coach, but to those familiar with the program, Eric Janiszewski is not a stranger.
Janiszewski was part of the birth of the lax team, and with the exception of the last two years, he has been in charge.
Taking over where last year’s coach Dan Davidson finished, Janiszewski inherits a 4-9 team that graduated nine seniors-including five starters, but also boasts the same number for the class of 2019.
The staff is also fresh on the sidelines, as Janiszewski will be joined by former Tigers Randy Salis (2011) and Hunter Grow (2017). Grow is currently a sophomore playing for the Keystone College Giants team.
“This year, it is really a mixed bag,” said the new coach. “A lot of these guys have never seen the field in a varsity game, and we have a lot of freshmen coming up through. We also have a new transfer student that will make an impact.”
Izaiah Simon and Sergey Montross will be expected to lead the team as captains, as they have been starters since their freshman year. The coaching staff will select any other captains, based on the players earning the position.
Janiszewski is excited about his up and coming freshmen, namely Matt Prebola, MIke Sickler, and Logan Slivinski. Also Alex Pierce, a transfer from Wyoming Area, is expected to be a difference maker.
“Last year the team had a decent year, they won the first district playoff came for the program, a great overtime win over Abington Heights at home. This year, we are looking at around a .500 season, maybe over, we are preparing for districts, that is always the goal,” he said.
While fundamentals, and implementing them into gameplay, are always priority at practice, the coach is also working on a new concept.
“Swagger,” said Janiszewski, who played defense at Tunkhannock when lacrosse was still a club team before playing at Misericordia. “We will take the field without fear and with confidence. In the past, we had lost games before the team even touched the field due to insecurities. These guys will believe in themselves, and their teammates.”
Janiszewski added, “I want these players to play with confidence and believe in themselves. The reality is that we can keep up with all of our competition if we just believe it.”
The Tigers return their entire attack line, and have Montross back between the pipes again. Simon, their faceoff specialist, will once again look to lead the charge.
“Our defense is young, though, and it will be a patchwork of players. We are getting them ready as fast as possible,” he said.
He continued, “Our schedule has some brutal games, and other games will test us. Abington Heights, North Pocono, Lake-Lehman will all be close ones. Crestwood, who was district champs, return all juniors. The thing with the Wyoming Valley Conference, is that we only see each team once, and it is usually against the top half of the league.”
Junior attackman Jaxson Montross believes this season will be a good one. Montross said, “We have a new coach, and are functioning in a different way. There are new faces, coach Randy and Coach Hunter too, and there is a good feeling throughout the team. We are returning three starters on attack, our mids are strong, and we have lots of short sticks. There is competition for spots and the defense is showing a lot of promise. I think it is coming together.”
The boys lacrosse team will practice on their playing field, by the school’s field hockey field between the softball field and tennis courts, once the weather breaks. Until then, they are inside the STEM academy gym.
The Tigers first game will be at Abington Heights at 4:30 on March 18.
Roster: Seniors Steven Bognatz, John Winters, Trae Cole, Brydan Huff, Izaiah Simon, Ryan Kugler, Sergey Montross, Robert Phillips, and Levi Westfield. Juniors Joseph Carey, Jaxson Montross, Brian Hannah, Jake Hawley, Brett Sickler, Nick Matthews, Robert Miroslaw, Shawn Glaush, and Troy Simmons. Sophomores Macauley Kenia, Riley Jones, Gabe Dixon, Alex Pierce, Hunter Talcott, Aiden Brown, Ryan Simmons, Nick Coole, and Brian Christ. Freshmen Matthew Prebola, Brady Lukasavage, Jacob Maas, Mike Sickler, Logan Slivinski, Jayden Kozlowski, Cameron Blaisure, and Noah Westfield.
Schedule: Mar. 18 at Abington Heights, 4:30 p.m.; Apr. 1 vs. Dallas, 4:30 p.m.; Apr. 3 at Coughlin, 4:30 p.m.; April 8 vs. Wyoming Seminary, 4:30 p.m.; Apr. 10 at Abington Heights, 4:30 p.m.; Apr. 15 at North Pocono, 5:30 p.m.; Apr. 19 vs. Crestwood, 4:30 p.m.; Apr. 22 at Delaware Valley, 5 p.m.; Apr. 26 vs. Lakeland 4:30 p.m.; May 1 vs. Wyoming Area, 4:30 p.m.; May 3 vs. Scranton Prep, 4:30 p.m.; May 8 at Lake-Lehman, 4: 30 p.m.; May 10 vs. Holy Redeemer, 4:30 p.m.