LYNNFIELD — The Lynnfield boys lacrosse team is looking to get back in the tournament after a two-year absence, but it’s not going to be easy.
The Pioneers lost seven seniors to graduation from the 2018 team (6-10), including their two leading scorers and Cape All League all-stars in Peter Look (32 goals, 17 assists) and Jack Razzaboni (23 goals, 15 assists), so their top need will be finding a way to replace the pair, who accounted for almost half of all goals last season.
The Pioneers also took some huge hits in the back line with the loss of goaltender Zack Huynh.
But with 12 returning varsity players, several of whom were starters last year, the Pioneers may have most of the pieces in place to get back to their winning ways.
This year’s team will be led by senior captains Hunter Allain, a crease defenseman, and midfielder Gianluca Alfe.
“Hunter brings brains and brawn to the team and as a four-year starter he knows the defensive calls and he will be a leader out on the defensive side of the ball,” said Lynnfield coach Joe Papagni, now in his 17th season. “Gianluca brings a tremendous amount of offensive skill to that side of the ball and he will lead our offense by example.”
Scoring-wise, the Pioneers have two of their top scorers coming back in Alfe, who scored 35 points last year, and junior midfielder Jackson Hammersley, who contributed 32 points last year.
“We lost 86 percent of our goals through graduation, but we are still planning on scoring goals,” said Papagni. “Captain Gianluca Alfe and Jackson Hammersley should be able to score goals. They are both talented kids who want to score. Sophomores Dario Leach (midfield/attacker) and John Briggs (midfield/attacker) also return and I believe will also be able to pick up scoring for our offense as will newcomer Mitch McKay. Mitch is a big, strong attacker who brings skill and size to our offense.”
Also returning are senior defensive wing Nicholas Buonfiglio, senior attacker John Michalski, senior defensive wing Harrison Drislane and sophomores Michael Dreher (long stick middie), Jack Galvin (defenseman) and Miles McKay (midfielder).
In addition to Hammersley, two juniors are returning with faceoff specialist Peter Razzaboni expecting to step up in the midfield and John Simonetti seeing minutes at defense and midfielder.
“Peter is a key this year as a faceoff man and he worked hard all year to improve his faceoff skills and expect it will pay off for us this spring,” said Papagni. “John Briggs may also see time on faceoffs.”
Defensively, Allain, Drislane, Buonfiglio and Dreher have nailed down starting positions, while Myles McKay and Simonetti will start as defensive middies. Alfe, Mitch McKay, Leach and Razzaboni will start at attack.
The starting goalie position is up for grabs and is down to newcomers Nik Marotta, a junior, and freshman Connor Preston.
“Both have looked good in practice and have good qualities,” said Papagni. “They both need work in areas but we are looking forward to working with both of them.”
Several other freshmen are potentially in the mix for varsity minutes, including Janssen Sperling, Will Steadman, Ian McDonald, Jack Phelps, Rupert Thomas and Declan Bolger.
“I expect they will keep working and eventually get some varsity time this spring,” Papagni said. “We know a lot about our freshmen as they played on our jv team last spring and did a nice job for us last year. Rupert had an outstanding Saugus scrimmage (last) Saturday, so right now it looks like he will get some varsity time.”
As far as team goals go, Papagni said there is only one.
“We have 16 games and we expect to compete to the very best of all of our abilities and surprise some people,” Papagni said.
Two new coaches are on board, Long Island native and Endicott College graduate, Tom Harvery, and Lynnfield High graduate Michael Doherty, a former player and captain under Papagni.
“Tom is from a lacrosse hotbed and he is doing a great job with our offense,” Papagni said. “Michael has also been helping us out and he brings some of that past successful tradition we strive to meet.”
The Pioneers open the season next Thursday at Revere.