LYNNFIELD — You have to think that things can only get better for the Lynnfield boys lacrosse team.
The Pioneers open the season next Tuesday with a non-league contest against Bedford at Pioneer Stadium (3:45) with high hopes after a disappointing 2017 season when the team took a nosedive and had its worst season since 2006, finishing 5-13 (CAL 0-9) after a banner 2016 campaign. That season, the Pioneers won 12 games, earned their highest tournament seed in program history (No. 3) and featured one of the stingiest defenses in Massachusetts, allowing a state best 4.4 goals per game.
While the Pioneers graduated only four seniors from last year’s team, the team still has a long way to go if it’s going to regain its form of two years ago.
“We have to learn to compete at a varsity level and that means having pride in the way you practice which will carry over to the way you compete in a game,” said coach Joe Papagni. “We need to understand what is needed to compete at varsity speed, varsity toughness and at a high level. That will take a big commitment from our captains and leaders. I expect to make the tournament with the proper attitude and team commitment.”
The good news is that the Pioneers graduated only three starters in goalie/defenseman Kingsley Corona, Jimmy Whelan and Ryan Freitas and they have a large group of juniors and seniors that got tons of playing time last season.
Leading that group are Pioneer tri-captains, Peter Look, Anthony Murphy and Jack Razzaboni. Look, a 4-year varsity veteran, led the Pioneers in scoring last year with 26 goals and 24 assists, while Razzaboni, a 3-year veteran, was second in scoring with 40 points (26 goals, 14 assists). Both players were named to the 2017 CAL All-Star Second Team, while Murphy received the team’s Defensive Player of the Year Award.
“We have three great character players and leaders as captains in Pete, Razz and Murph and we have a returning defense that as individuals and as a unit are willing to work hard,” said Papagni.
“With 50 points, Peter was more than a scorer,” said Papagni. “He was a consistently hard working middie, working all the time to get better and he never quit always working as a leader. Murph was just a tough, physical lead-by-example player who was key to our clear game, a key defender in all of our different defenses and a natural leader.”
Also back for another season, his third on varsity, is senior defensive middie Nick Moreschi, who received the team’s Most Improved Player award last year.
Rounding out the group of senior returners are Nicholas Metrano, Zachery Huynh, while the junior group includes Antonio DeLuca, John Michalski, Hunter Allain, Nick Buonfiglio, Harry Drislane and GianLuca Alfe.
Returning for a second season are sophomores Joshua Mettera and Peter Razzaboni.
While only 22 players showed up at tryouts, a pleasant surprise has been the emergence of a solid group of freshmen in Jack Galvin, John Briggs, Myles McKay, Dario Leach and Michael Dreyer, who played JV as an 8th grader, and the play of Huynh, who has stepped into the cage as goalie.
“I like the aggressiveness of the freshmen, who look like they may be capable of putting the ball in the net,” Papagni said. “They all look like they can contribute.
“Zach is an experiment which I hope will be a cure to a huge hole and I I expect that he will be. He is willing, tough minded and capable of playing goalie but he has to learn everything about clearing positioning and playing smart. He can do it.”
Also new to the team are senior Nick Kinnon and sophomores John Simonetti and Jackson Hammersley.
The starting lineup has yet to be finalized but Papagni expects that Look, Kinnon, Murphy, Metrano, Alfe and Jack Razzaboni will be key middies with Simonetti and Moreschi as defensive middies, while Allain, Hammersley, Buonfiglio, Drislane and Dreyer are in the mix in the backfield.
Look and Peter Razzaboni will handle face-off duties.