NEWINGTON – Under the lights at Clem Lemire Field on a spring night with fans going crazy against an undefeated team, were the sights and sounds of Newington boys lacrosse’s storybook senior night win against Canton on Friday.
The Nor’easters recognized their 11 seniors before the game and all 23 players celebrated after as the victory sent Newington back to the state tournament.
The win meant even more to a senior class that has practically been inseparable on the field for years.
“These kids, I started kind of working with them when they were in seventh grade, and they’ve been playing together longer than that, so they’re really close,” Nor’easters’ coach Zach Zarookian said. “They almost act like brothers, they kind of have that thing where they’ll fight with each other and then they’ll get over it five minutes later.”
“We’re a majority senior team,” Mike Zapatka said. “Seven out of our 11 seniors are committed to college to continue lacrosse and education. We have a squad [where] we’ve been playing together for years. We all love each other. We all know what we have to do, it’s just going out there and executing it and doing it, not for yourself, but for your brothers.”
Zapatka was the star for Newington on Friday as No. 15 zipped in six goals to pace the home team. Seniors Tommy Brescia and Dylan Diaz also contributed a goal in a special game for the senior class.
“This meant everything to us,” Trevor Rielly said. “We’ve been waiting for this since we were little kids. We’ve all grown up together, we all played lacrosse since youth, we’ve been dreaming of this moment. It was great to win, it feels really good, pretty emotional.”
Add in the fact that last season was cancelled puts a night like that into perspective, especially for the upperclassmen.
“I’m so thankful we were able to have as normal of a season as we can,” Sam Davies said. “The fall season was rough, the winter season was rough and I’m just happy we’re out here, happy we had a nice senior night. We got so many seniors working so hard and it’s just amazing we were able to have a beautiful night for this and such a good result.”
Talent runs throughout the class as most of the seniors have committed to play college lacrosse at Division II or Division III schools.
Davies, Newington’s goalie, is set to star for Roger Williams next year, while Zapatka and Rielly will be heading to Rivier University together.
“We have so many guys that are lucky, that can get into nice schools, beautiful programs and hopefully they can win a lot of games in the next chapter,” Davies said.
“We’re so excited, we can’t wait,” Rielly said. “[It stinks] to leave a bunch a guys, we’ve been playing with them forever, but onto the next level, me and Mike are going to take it on, we’re ready.”
In fact, Rielly and Zapatka are planning to room together once they get to New Hampshire.
“Trevor Rielly is my best friend, my dog, my brother, I’d do anything for that man,” Zapatka said. “He’s a wonderful lacrosse player and even more of a wonderful gentleman himself. I wouldn’t want to go to school or play with anyone else.”
With such a senior-heavy team, the Nor’easters instill a gritty playing style that starts from the experienced guys all the way down, with the goal of trying to outwork any and every team in their path.
“That’s kind of like our philosophy of our program,” Zarookian said. “We play hard, we play with a lot of heart, play with a lot of intensity and we really believe if you play hard on every play consistently, you can make small plays happen. You can kind of will yourself to victory and make plays like that and we do think it’s really difficult for other teams to match our intensity and match our desire. That’s kind of how we want the kids to play and it is an emotional game.”
Donovan Torbicki, Jay Lapierre, Matt Aldrich, Kyle Such, Dan Barron and Tiago Santos join Zapatka, Brescia, Diaz, Rielly and Davies in Newington’s impressive senior squad.
Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.