Spring Preview: Local boys lacrosse teams looking to contend again

Published on Saturday, 1 April 2017 19:04
Written by MICHAEL WOOLFSON

STAFF WRITER

The boys lacrosse season is nearing and there is a lot of hope among the local high school teams. Last season, two of the three in the area (Berlin and Southington) were able to qualify for the postseason. Each won a game in the qualifying round of before suffering blowout losses in the first round against teams that would go ultimately on to lose in their respective state championship games.

As is usually the case, each team has lost some key players from a season ago, but this year there aren’t as many key losses which should lead to similar or potentially even more successful seasons.

Newington is the team that suffered the fewest losses and is loaded with seniors this season so a three win increase and postseason qualification is a real possibility.

Southington and Berlin each suffered more losses but also have more young depth that could help fill the holes. The Redcoats are a particularly young team, while the Blue Knights have some older players that may be forced to take on bigger roles.

Having all three teams in the playoffs this season seems like a strong possibility considering where the teams are, so local boys lacrosse is something to watch.

Here is a closer look at the three local teams:

BERLIN

Head coach: Scott Rossi (6th season)

Last year: 11-9

Key losses: Garrett Guite (Attack), Kyle Mahoney (Midfield), Nathan Baretta (Midfield), Eric DeFrancesco (Defense).

Key returnees: Tyler Ralph (Sophomore/attack), Joe Pettinelli (Junior/midfield), Jack Lombardo (Junior/defense)

Key newcomers: Mark Bednarczyk (Sophomore/midfield), T.J. Hebert (Sophomore/midfield)

Outlook: The Berlin boys lacrosse team is coming off of a successful 2016 season. This year, however, figures to be a bit of a question mark. The Redcoats only have three seniors on the team so they will be counting on a lot of the younger players to help carry the team. Tyler Ralph, Joe Pettinelli and Jack Lombardo are a few key returnees, but head coach Scott Rossi has high hopes for Mark Bednarcyzk and T.J. Hebert, two sophomore midfielders, as he believes they should give the team a boost with their size and speed. On top of having a young team, Berlin also lost several key players from last year’s 11-win squad. Garrett Guite’s offensive output will be missed, while Kyle Mahoney and Nathan Baretta played big roles in the midfield and Eric DeFrancesco was one of the team’s top defenders. The Redcoats’ ability to replace these players might determine how good they can be this season.

NEWINGTON

Head coach: Zachary Zarookian (2nd season)

Last year: 5-11

Key losses: Grant Ganley (Midfielder)

Key returnees: Gage Garcia (Senior/goalkeeper), Connor Brennan Jr. (Junior/midfield), Jack Lam (Senior/attack), Justin Durocher (Senior/midfield)

Outlook: The Newington boys lacrosse team struggled a bit last season to the tune of a 5-11 record. This season the team is hoping to show improvement in head coach Zachary Zarookian’s second season at the helm. The Indians didn’t lose all that many key contributors from last season’s team which should help with midfielder Grant Ganely being the only real loss of note. This season Newington is a senior-laden team led by goalie Gage Garcia, attacker Jack Lam, and midfielder Justin Durocher so things are looking up. The continuity of having a similar roster to last season should allow the Indians to make strides and a possible berth in the state tournament at the end of the year does seem like a possibility.

SOUTHINGTON

Head coach: Ron Chase (10th season)

Last year: 9-7

Key losses: Jake Testa (Midfield), Mike Majchrzak (Midfield), Nick Zukauskas (Midfield), Chris Gamber (Midfield), Bryce Lynch (Defense), Matt Natelli (Defense).

Expected key returnees: Brandon Slade (Senior/defense), Jake Walczak (Junior), Tagen Welch (Junior), Taylor Beckham (Senior), Matt Gundersen (Senior), Eli Steindl (Sophomore), Colton Brown (Senior), Jacob Cardozo (Sophomore)

Outlook: The Southington boys lacrosse team made some significant progress a season ago when it won nine games and qualified for the Class L tournament. After a season in which the team finished with just four wins in 2015, getting into the tournament and then winning a game was a big step forward. This season, the team is hoping to take a few more steps forward and become a regular in the postseason. The Blue Knights did lose a few key players, particularly on defense and at the midfield position but there is no shortage of talent still around. Brandon Slade figures to lead the defensive effort while Southington looks for other players to step up.

Michael Woolfson can be reached at 860-801-5203 or mwoolfson@centralctcommunications.com

On Twitter: @Bigwoolf5



Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin, General Sports, New Britain, Newington, Plainville, Southington on Saturday, 1 April 2017 19:04. Updated: Saturday, 1 April 2017 19:06.