Fairfield lacrosse preview: Ludlowe aims to re-capture 2015 magic
FAIRFIELD — Last spring, the Ludlowe boys’ lacrosse team had one of the best seasons in program history, going 13-3, finishing in third place in the FCIAC East and playing in the Class L tournament.
But after graduating 17 lettermen, including five seniors, how can head coach Chris Parisi re-create the magic?
Well, thanks to a core group of nine veterans — seven who will be going on to play college lacrosse — the Falcons should be able to contend in the always-tough FCIAC and make a return to the CIAC tournament.
“After going 13-3 and graduating 17, what can we do for an encore?” Parisi wrote in his prospectus to the Citizen. “Take things one game at a time, peak at the right time and play with strength and teamwork.”
Quad-captains seniors Jake Tymon (defense), Riley Larson (midfield), Mitch Wycoff (defense) and Luke Vitale all return for Parisi and all four will continue their lacrosse in college, going to Mercyhurst, LeMoyne, Gettysburg and SUNY Potsdam, respectively. In addition, junior Joe Casucci (defense) has already committed to UMass, senior attack Tim MacDonald (27 goals, 31 assists) will attend Elon and senior attack Matt Cullinan (10 goals, 8 assists) will attend St. Anselm’s.
Jake Tague is also back, as is sophomore Carter Liebrock, who as a freshman, won 13 games in goal last season.
“We have strength, grit and character,” Parisi said. “But we’re going to be young.”
Despite losing six starters from last spring’s 7-9 team, coach Tom Cunningham has “a lot of varsity experience” on the offensive side of the ball as the Mustangs look to make a return trip to the Class L tournament.
Seniors Jack Potenza (attack), Jake Fuss (defense), Kyle Gavey (attack) and R.J. Bebey (forward/midfield), juniors Gareth Gacetta (attack) and Brian Gannon (defense), along with sophomores Ted Orben (attack) and Jack Murphy (midfield), give Cunningham a solid core to build upon.
“We will look to have a balanced offense with contributions from many players,” Cunningham wrote in his prospectus to the Citizen. “Team defense will be a key factor in the team’s success.
“We have a very competitive schedule this year, both in league and out. Our goal is to continue the growth of the program and qualify for the state tournament for the fifth straight year.”
“Experienced leadership will be our strength,” Smalkais wrote in his prospectus to the Citizen. “We need to have a good lacrosse IQ and communicate on the field to be able to have success as a team.”
Nick Franchuk, Colin Smalkais and Jack O’Connor will be the tri-captains for Prep. Franchuk, a senior defenseman is going to play for Navy, Smalkais, a midfielder, is going to play at Union College, while O’Connor, a goaltender, will play at Bowdoin College. In addition, senior midfielder Brendan Hoffman is going to play at Williams College and other experience will come from senior defenseman Aidan Coyle, junior midfielder Mitch Savoca and junior attack Chris Brown.
“We must challenge ourselves daily in order to continue to improve as a group,” Smalkais said.
After qualifying for the state tournament in 2012, 2013 and 2014, the Lancers took a backwards step, coming up winless in the season (0-16) in 2015.
“All the players are anxious for a chance at redemption,” ND-Fairfield head coach Frank Skawinski wrote in his prospectus to the Citizen. “The offense has improved heavily from last year and we have a talented and eager group of juniors.”
Defensemen Sal Emanuel and Tony Addorisio return as does Matt Vizi (attack) and Trevor Sabia (midfield) for the Lancers while Skawinski will mold Jonathan Law transfers Tyler Stein (midfield) and Austin Fratello (attack) into the mix. Also returning are Andrew Fallon (midfield), Willard Fiore (defense), Brendon Watcke (midfield), Chris Beckler (midfield) and Bradley Mazzone (attack).
“We are out to rebuild the culture of the team and get back to the strength the team had in 2014 (8-8),” Skawinski said. “We need to improve on our core components of the game … clearing the ball, winning faceoffs, and controlling ground balls.”
After losing just one offensive player from last spring’s 9-5-1 team, the Mustangs are expecting to score a lot of goals.
“We have a lot of firepower with great speed,” Warde coach Tom Davis wrote in his prospectus to the Citizen. “Almost all of this (offensive) unit has played together over the last two years. We’re looking to score a lot of goals.”
Senior Amanda Orvis, who scored 32 goals last season and added 25 assists, is back as a co-captain, along with senior defenseman Hannah Dougherty. Senior Rebekah Snitkoff (a three-year starter) will guard the goal and junior forward Courtney Scheetz (25 goals, 6 assists) also returns.
“We only return two defenders so we need to fill in those spots,” Davis said. “We have to stay healthy, get solid shooting opportunities, score and play a tight, swarming defense to help the goalie. We will again make a run at the FCIAC and state tournaments, advancing in both.”
Last spring, the Lancers played in the state tournament for the first time in program history. This spring, they’d like to do that again.
And why not? With four returning “attack” players and two more veterans on defense, Notre Dame is out to improve on its 6-9-1 record from a year ago and take the program to a higher level.
“With a diverse team, we are hoping to advance and build toward future success,” Lancers head coach Jennifer Schell wrote in her prospectus to the Citizen. “We are going to work on different goals and continue to build on team chemistry to push through the difficult times.”
Senior Alexandra D’Aurio (attack), senior Geovabba Badaro (attack) will be co-captains for the Lancers with junior Delaney O’Keefe (defense) taking the alternate captain role. Senior Jennifer Carriera (attack), sophomore Kaitlyn Ciufo (attack) and senior Alicia Berard (defense) are the other top returning players for Notre Dame.
Head coach Heather Lewsey lost seven starters and 10 letter winners from last season’s 11-5 team and the Falcons will have to rely on several new faces if they want to make a return trip to the state tournament.
“After graduating many players. We need new faces to step up and make an impact,” Lewsey wrote in her prospectus to the Citizen. “As we rebuild, we need to develop on-field chemistry to compete with all the teams in the FCIAC. They are a hard-working group that learns quickly and is not afraid to try new things and new positions to help the team.”
“With hard work and dedication, I’m confident that the team will quickly develop the skills and chemistry necessary to compete,” Lewsey said. “Our program had always been known for its hustle and grit which I know will help us tremendously throughout the season.”