The soccer pitch can be a cold, lonely place come November if you're not playing in the state tournament.
While Paupack came up short by one game from making the AAA state playoffs, it nonetheless was a remarkable season.
The Buckhorns had a lot going for them this season.
First off, they were flush with experienced seniors occupying key positions all over the field.
Two of these were keepers Thomas McLain and Liam Cunningham.
Both were strong enough between the posts in their own right. The typical modus operandi for the Bucks was to open with McLain and the finish with Cunningham, while McLain moved forward and helped with the offense.
That brings us to item number two: versatility.
McLain wasn't the only player capable of performing in various slots.
While Shayne McCormack and Joey Budnovitch were the usual frontmen for the team, from game to game the scoring support came from various players.
On paper someone might be a defender or midfielder, on the pitch it was a different story.
One night players such as Dan Skibber or Marcus Sabrowski might have brought the ball up the wings and the next game they were throwing up roadblocks against opposing attackers.
This applied to the starters and non-starters alike. Subs frequently dropped in wherever they seemed to be needed.
Which takes us to the third important factor: depth of players.
Forty-three kids came out for the team and only around ten were cut.
Page 2 of 4 - There was a strong crop of freshmen as well, which fostered an atmosphere of healthy competition.
Among the younger players there was a lot of talent. To make matters worse for those that crossed Paupack's path, they normally faced a healthy Buckhorn squad.
With hardly no kids sidelined for long term injuries, the team was able to start most games strongly and continue to keep fresh legs on the pitch throughout most matches.
The Buckhorns went 2-1-1 in the preseason losing only to Hamburg in the Lakeside Tournament.
Paupack opened Lackawanna League play with a double overtime tie versus Western Wayne and then dropped two non-league games.
Following that, the Bucks were solid posting four league wins and a tie before getting shut out by Abington.
Paupack plowed through the next five matches only to be stopped by Honesdale in the regular season closer.
Post-season problems persisted with Abington.
First, the Bucks were blasted by the Comets in the league championship game.
Then, after defeating West Scranton and Valley West in the district playoffs, they succumbed to the Comets once more in a 1-0 loss for the district title.
Paupack finished the season with a record of 12-8-2 and an impressive 9-2-2 Lackawanna League tally.
There were no blowouts per se. Paupack fought hard for nearly every goal they scored all season long.
Leading the way were Budnovitch and McCormack.
Typically if one was the scorer, the other had the assist. However Casey Weis, Matt Vosburg, Dave Wacker, and Anthony "Jules" Irving were frequent set-up men.
Page 3 of 4 - Players like Tyler Ferber, Zach Wirth, Ryan Johnson, and Leo Cichinsky, while not in the limelight frequently, came to the pitch night after night to do the yeoman's work.
Adding some extra punch were Noah Koeller and Trevor Loomis, both Juniors who undoubtedly will be taking on leadership roles next season and plebe standouts Logan Franklin and Zach Cykosky.
"Our win against Delaware Valley was really big," stated Head Coach Scott Bonagura.
"We clinched our spot in the league that night and we had always struggled to win there. That win put us in a good place."
While the Buckhorns loss to Abington in the district finals he felt that the team was competitive and created many opportunities, remaining on pace with the Comets throughout the contest.
Additionally, wins against Mountain View and Scranton Prep were also big for the Bucks this season.
Budnovitch was named League MVP which automatically qualified him to the All-State team, something no Paupack player has achieved in at least a decade.
Additoinally he, along with Wacker, McCormack, and Wirth were named to the Division 2 1st Team All-Stars while McLain and Skibber were named to the 2nd Team.
Bonagura has been named Coach of the Year for the Lackawanna League. Behind him are the very capable Ben Katz and Brian Campbell assisting him on the sidelines and team managers Brittany Bonagura and Melanie Mosinak.
It is tough to say how the Buckhorns will fare next season. The loss of two Senior keepers will be a big blow to the team.
The heir-apparent is Chris Brindle, currently a Freshman, who will have to step up majorly between the posts as there will also be an exit of experienced Senior defensemen.
At the opposite end of the field things are a bit less obtuse. Underclassmen have already proved they can score and maintain control of the field, but how that will all pan out is too far off to tell.
Page 4 of 4 - Other schools were going through admitted "growing seasons" and were setting their sights on the future midway through this year.
Regardless, staying on top of the Division 2 rankings will be something the Buckhorns will have to work at in 2014.