---- — By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
LEWISBURG -- The midfield position in lacrosse can be likened to the grunts in the military -- it can be a gruelling job and thankless at times -- but they always get the job done when it counts.
This year, a pair of midfields earned The Daily Item's lacrosse player of the year as the 2012 Central Susquehanna Lacrosse League saw a changing of the guard for both the boys and girls teams.
Selinsgrove, under head coach Tom Garlock, went undefeated in league play with a 14-0 record and ended the season at 16-1 with a loss to Delaware Valley in the first round of the PIAA state playoffs.
Those results helped earn Garlock The Daily Item's Lacrosse Coach of the Year award.
The Seals outscored their opponents 247-91. In nine of those games, they held opponents to five goals or fewer.
"The players comprising this years team united well to a common purpose," Garlock said. "One of the hardest things to teach players is the concept of team play. Being unselfish in your personal goals and combining with others to further the team's goals leads to the success of any team. We had this in prior years, but, with this team, it combined with having multiple players possessing the athletic ability and talents to bring us to an undefeated regular season and a district title."
The Seals posted a hard-fought 9-6 win over Lewisburg in the District 4 finals to earn a state playoff berth, their first ever.
Junior Austin Stroup, son of Dawn Getgen and David Stroup, of Middleburg, proved his merits for the Seals undefeated regular-season and district championship by notching 83 points (54G, 29A). He also won 71.4 percent of his faceoffs and collected 153 ground balls.
The junior is The Daily Item Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year.
He's been playing the midfield position since he was in the fifth grade, the only position he's ever played.
"This was the first time that we were in states and that we won the district title and that's monumental for our school, considering that we are a club-based team," he said.
Stroup said he felt the 6-5 overtime win against Lewisburg on April 18, was the defining moment of the season.
"We had never beaten Lewisburg before and once we did, then we knew that we could beat them," he said. "Before that, it was always a mind-set that Lewisburg was so good and this year we finally were able to get past that hurdle."
Stroup was held scoreless in that game, the only time that happened all year. He notched eight goals against Mifflinburg and had two seven-goal games.
"The difference between this year's team and last year's team is that we were very connected on offense and our whole defensive strategy changed to a combination of man and zone, not just one type of defense," Stroup said.
Stroup said that he's been working on his shooting and defensive strategy of the game and would like to be a better defensive midfielder.
"As a team, for 2014, we are hoping for a repeat of this season, but I think we can go farther in states," he said. "Our goal is another district title."
On the girls side, Lewisburg earned the school's and league's first-ever state playoff berth after beating Midd-West 12-4 in the District 4 title game.
The Green Dragons finished at 13-6, losing to Wyoming Seminary in the first round of the state playoffs.
Head coach Janelle Groff -- who was named Coach of the Year -- was not available for comment.
Lewisburg junior Hannah Gotoff, daughter of doctors Robert and Jill Gotoff, has been playing lacrosse since the sixth grade.
She played both center and midfield this season and won 49 draw controls, scored 52 goals and added 10 assists to lead the Green Dragons to the first-ever appearance in the state playoffs to earn the Girls Player of the Year.
Her two older brothers, James (Class of 2008) and Samuel (2010), also played lacrosse for the Green Dragons.
"My dad and brothers taught me how to play the game while I was in middle school and I was also playing soccer at the time, but it was in the eighth grade that I switched to lacrosse on full-time basis," she said.
During this summer, Gotoff is playing for the Xtreme Lacrosse travelling team out of Lancaster.
"It was really exciting," she said of this past season. "We had the same team as we did last year where we would win the hard games during the season and in the playoffs, we kind of choked."
"This year, we were more of a team than the past two years and our mind-set was that we were going to win it (districts) for the people who already graduated."
Gotoff notched a goal in the loss to Seminary.
"Our goal was to win the district title this year and we had a lot of seniors on the team (14) and it was great to win districts and go on," she said. "We've lost to Seminary before so we knew how hard of a state playoff game this was going to be.
"We want to win districts again," she said of the team's goal for next year. "We're going to have a lot of new players, but I think we can get as far as we did this year."
Gotoff noted that her game has improved since she was a freshman when she didn't take draw controls.
"I think I could improve more on getting the draw to myself or directing where it goes on the off-circle and directing the defense as well."