PEABODY– Bishop Fenwick boys lacrosse coach Steve Driscoll’s excited about the progress he has seen from his Crusaders over the past two seasons. In 2017, Fenwick qualified for the Division 3 North state tournament. Last season, Fenwick hosted a tournament game at Donaldson Field.
Driscoll hopes the Crusaders continue to progress in 2019, perhaps with a tournament win.
“We had 11 or 12 guys that played varsity hockey last year,” Driscoll, entering his fourth season at Fenwick, said. “This year we might have the same amount. Derek DelVecchio came up to me after the end of the hockey season and said ‘coach I haven’t touched a lacrosse stick since November.’ I’m happy these kids had a great tournament run. It sets us back a bit but that’s what these next few weeks are for. We’ve had great energy. I can’t wait to see where that takes us.”
Fenwick finished the regular season 12-8 last spring and earned the No. 5 seed in Division 3 North. The Crusaders fell just short to No. 12 St. Mary’s, 12-11, in a back-and-forth overtime thriller.
“I think we definitely accomplished our goal of being in the playoffs,” Driscoll said. “That’s always our No. 1 goal. Getting a home game was icing on the cake. It was a really good experience because our juniors and seniors have played in two state tournament games. It’s good to have that experience and hopefully it parlays into postseason success this year.”
Leading the returning core are three senior co-captains in midfielder Derek DelVecchio, attacker Brian Harrington and goalie Garrett Ruszkowski. Driscoll’s confident in their leadership abilities.
“I’m ecstatic with them,” Driscoll said. “All those guys have had a close relationship with me through the four years we’ve been together. Brian had a great freshman year and opened up a lot of peoples’ eyes as to how good he can be. Derek and I developed a great relationship his sophomore year. Garrett and I have always had a great relationship. It’s great to have three guys that are extensions of the coaching staff. I’m going to lean on them a lot.”
Also returning are junior attacker Diego Alvarez-Segee, junior attacker Nick Muzi and sophomore midfielder Stefano Fabiano.
“I think we have a great group of guys that are returning,” Driscoll said. “Last year we had so many underclassmen and not a lot of seniors. This year we have five seniors and they’re all guys that have been with me in my three years. It’s great to see how much they’ve grown from the beginning to now.”
Offense projects to be Fenwick’s strength this season. The Crusaders like to use their speed in aim of dictating the pace of play against their opponents.
“Our offense is going to be really good,” Driscoll said. “I saw a list of the top scorers in the area and I think we have seven of the top 40. That’s sort of always been our lynchpin. We love to be able to play fast and push the pace, hopefully push the pedal to the medal and outrun teams.”
With Ruszkowski, Fenwick’s also strong in goal. A three-year starter, Ruszkowski earned Catholic Central League all-star honors last season. Driscoll believes he’ll continue to flourish this spring.
“Garrett just committed to Maine Maritime Academy to play next year,” Driscoll said. “We’re excited for him. He’s put in the work. He’s gone to goalie camps and summer camps. He was a CCL all-star last year in a league that has some good goalies. He’s really put in the hard work. I’m incredibly excited for him this year. He has a great opportunity to do well.”
If there’s one area Fenwick hopes to improve on, it’s discipline. The Crusaders dropped a pair of one-goal games last season and penalties played roles in those outcomes. Avoiding penalties will be a priority this spring.
“We talked about discipline and execution,” Driscoll said. “Last year we lost two one-goal games that we feel we should’ve won. Not to take anything away from the other teams, they outworked us. We want to be able to execute. We can’t get into the penalty box and shoot ourselves in the foot. Eliminating those errors is going to go a long way for us.”
Fenwick opens the season April 1 (4 p.m.) at Manchester-Essex. The Crusaders play their home opener April 3 (4 p.m.) against Newburyport at Donaldson Stadium.