Northwest Catholic Lions
2018-19 Record: 17-2-1
Tournament Result: As 2-seed lost in the Division I Semifinals to 6-seed Notre Dame-West Haven 3-2
Head Coach: Dan Melanson (3rd season)
Key Returning Players: Nate Loitz (F, Sr.), Luke Gfeller (F, Sr.), Cam Porter (F, Sr.) Connor Melanson (F, Jr.), Griffin Macary (D, Jr.),
Impact Newcomers: Noah Melanson (F, Fr.)
Goalie Situation: Melanson gave his two returning goalies some valuable time last year while still riding the talented Mike Kaliff to a 17-2-1 record. Kaliff is now graduated which leaves Northwest Catholic with the services of last year’s two backups. Senior John Lewis went (2-0-1) in three games played last year while fellow senior Keenan Brosmith went (1-0-0) in two starts. There could be a learning curve for these two, but the good news is, there will be someone there ready to go should struggles arise for one.
Key Losses: Mike Kaliff, Sean Macary, Nick Salcedo, Colby Tuttle (all to graduation), Brennan Horn (Westminster)
Outlook: After failing to make it out of the first round their first three years at the Division I level, the Lions of Northwest Catholic have had arguable some of the best success over the last three years but still have that “always the bridesmaid, never the bride” feel at the DI level. Three years ago they lost in the DI championship to Ridgefield as a 1-seed, two years ago they fell in the quarters to Greenwich and last year as the 2-seed they fell in the semis to eventual runner up NDWH. The talk of the north vs. south, CCC vs. SCC vs. FCIAC has been agonistically debated for a long time. There’s no question, Northwest Catholic is a great program and was a really good team last year. Replacing Brennan Horn (20 goals, 25 assists), arguably the state’s best player will take a Herculean effort. Finding a consistently solid replacement for Mike Kaliff in net will be tough and don’t devalue the loss of Sean Macary and his constant, steady play for years. Bringing back a senior group led by the understated Nate Loitz (15 goals, 19 assists) makes me think a return trip to Ingalls is still a faint possibility. Talented junior Connor Melanson (11 goals, 16 assists) will miss some time with injury but when he’s going, he’s one of the best in the state and senior Luke Gfeller (8 goals, 12 assists) will look to build off a strong junior season. Junior Griffin Macary will anchor of defensive unit that should be okay but may experience a learning curve. All reports out of the ISCC indicate that the Lions have brought in a strong freshman class headlined by forward Noah Melanson. Because of the valuable experience that both backup goalies received last year, I think that position will figure itself out. I think Northwest Catholic will be right back in the mix. They’ve already proven their staying power at Division I, something that was marginally questioned when they first came up and repeatedly were ousted in the first round. This program is the real deal and they will certainly rack up plenty of wins to be among the top of the heap when bracketology time comes around.