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Feb. 23 - BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany College men’s lacrosse program will begin its second season Feb. 27th with a home game against Hanover (Ind.) College, as the Bison return six players who saw significant time in the program’s inaugural campaign.

Bethany finished its first season of varsity competition with a 1-11 record, with the lone win coming via a 13-6 victory over Ohio Valley. However, head coach Todd Wolffrum sees a great deal of improvement with his program from last year to this, which obviously begins with a year of experience.

“Our biggest improvement is we have guys who have played more than four years and only a couple who have less than a year of playing experience,” said Wolffrum. “We are still light in numbers, but we continue to build and get quality players into the program.”

Wolffrum had a chance to evaluate his team already this year with three games in a fall tournament at Washington & Jefferson, as well as a 16-2 victory over West Liberty in a recent scrimmage. He believes the talent level far exceeds what the program had last season, but now it’s about developing the players.

“We have a lot of ability and raw talent, but we just have to continue to polish and refine what we do,” said Wolffrum. “We are a lot more competitive and are getting better every day. We have more talent on the field than at any point last year, so we just have to continue to build on that.”

One key spot where BC returns a veteran is at goal, where sophomore C.J. Studnicky (Severna Park, Md.) is back after playing every minute in net last spring. He made nine saves in the Ohio Valley victory and recorded 12 or more stops in six other matches. One of the Bethany captains this year, Wolffrum sees last season as a good learning experience for Studnicky.

“C.J. is returning and looks a whole lot better,” said Wolffrum. “He has settled in as to what he’ll face as a Division III player and look to improve every day.”

The defensive unit in front of Studnicky boasts two returners and three newcomers. Sophomore Corey Doneski (Annapolis, Md./Broadneck) started all 12 games last year and scooped a team-leading 56 ground balls while leading the team with 10 created turnovers. Also returning is sophomore Eric Sowinski (Pittsburgh, Pa./Seton-LaSalle), who also started every game a season ago and posted 33 ground balls.

Joining the defense are freshmen David Zorn (Pittsburgh, Pa./Seton-LaSalle) and Adrian Jordan (Bel Air, Md.), while returning for his second season with the program is sophomore Josh Smith (Tarentum, Pa./Deer Lakes).

“Corey and Eric will be our two vocal leaders down on close defense,” said Wolffrum. “David will help improve an already young defense down close. Adrian and Josh look to see the field at the long-stick mid position and possibly down in close as well.”

In the midfield, the Green and White will run out a blend of newcomers and returning players. Back for their second year are sophomores Travis Granich (Huntington, W.Va.), who started nine of the 12 games he played in and recorded one goal, one assist and 39 ground balls, and Dylan Radwanski (Toronto, Ohio), who appeared in 10 games.

Joining the Bison for their first season are freshmen Vince Frammartino (Sterling, Va./Potomac Falls), Kyle Lehosit (Bridgeport, W.Va.) and Trey Moore (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Scioto), as well as junior Brendon Sadler (Weirton, W.Va./Weir). In addition to their midfield responsibilities, Granich, who is trying to recover from an early-season injury, Frammartino and Lehosit will handle the face-off duties for the Bison.

“We are hoping to get Travis back healthy as quickly as possible because he is a hard worker,” said Wolffrum. “Dylan looks to improve from where he was last year. The newcomers bring a lot of potential to the field. Trey brings speed to the midfield with a great shot. Vince and Kyle add depth to both the offensive and defensive side of midfield and Brendon will work in a defensive midfielder.”

The most inexperienced spot on the field for Bethany looks to be at the attack positions, with only one of the top six scorers back on the roster this year. Junior Zach Gordon (Leesburg, Va./Heritage) is the lone returner and he recorded five goals and one assist while playing in all 12 games in 2011. Looking to spark the offense up front is sophomore transfer Brendan Wessells (Severna Park, Md.) and freshman Christian Simon (Sylvania, Ohio/Northview).

“Zach has great field vision and likes to get into space,” said Wolffrum. “Christian has a great shot and has great field vision to find open space. Brendan transferred in this year and brings a strong work ethic to our attack.”

As the Bison are ready to embark on their second season, Wolffrum sees a much more competitive team ready to take the field. The schedule isn’t as difficult either, as due to conflicts, Bethany took on a good amount of scholarship schools in its first year. They have been replaced by other Division III opponents and the BC head coach believes this season will provide more opportunities for victories.

“Our main goal is to look to continue to be more competitive,” said Wolffrum. “The schedule is a little easier, as there are more games that we feel we can win or have a chance. They’ll all be tough games, but with who we brought in and the talent we have offensively, we should be more competitive.”