Pickens' Perspective: Ludlowe boys lacrosse headed higher thanks to growth of junior class
Updated 1:09 pm, Friday, May 18, 2012
The more Fairfield Ludlowe's boys lacrosse program grows, the more it improves.
The Falcons are not a legendary program in Connecticut. They're not Darien, New Canaan, Wilton, Fairfield Prep or Greenwich. They just inch better every year.
So when the spring season was starting, and I heard the angst in head coach Chris Parisi's voice, I was confused.
So what if 15 seniors graduated from the club that reached the Class M and FCIAC quarterfinals? So what if Parisi had to put his faith in juniors and sophomores? So what if Ludlowe had to open with road games at Darien, Mamaroneck (N.Y) and Greenwich?
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Parisi has preached all year the value of being a team. He strives for interchangeable parts, especially on the offensive end.
But I guess faith was required to see if the things he preached would work. And that faith has been rewarded, with a 9-6 record, an FCIAC playoff berth, and a winnable first-round state playoff game, just like last year.
"The kids believed they could be very different as a group," Parisi said. "They bought into the fact that we can't be a team of 18-year-old all stars who will run by their kids."
The more people around Ludlowe's program I talk with, the more I hear them beam about this year's success -- mostly because any big success in 2012 is gravy. There are three seniors -- Dan Errett, Chris Morgan and Mac Koss -- and on senior night, in Ludlowe's 9-2 win over Warde, each shined in his own way.
"For us to get back to the FCIAC quarters is a testament to Errett, Morgan and Koss," Parisi said.
But there are 16 juniors on Ludlowe's 25-man roster. Those 11th-graders continue to grow and reveal why Ludlowe is ecstatic about its future. Junior Mac Eder won 10 of 12 faceoffs on Wednesday. Jack Palmer, Kyle Mason and Eder all scored goals.
"They grew up fast and quick," Parisi said. "These were kids that didn't step on the field last year, now they're varsity starters in the FCIAC."
The Wakeman Boys and Girls Club's travel lacrosse program's gotten progressively better year-in and year-out. That program regularly beats other youth programs from Darien and New Canaan.
But for years, the majority of those kids have gone to the lax factory that is Fairfield Prep. That half-mile migration to the northeast has resigned Ludlowe to a perpetual state of FCIAC purgatory that is the league's second-tier.
But the more Ludlowe's lax program builds, the more it seems kids are staying in public school. And the kids who have regularly fostered their talent at Wakeman end up going to public school at Ludlowe.
That's what the Falcons' junior class did. And credit Parisi and the rest of Ludlowe's coaching staff. They've lived in that cycle, and now can finally see the road to the top. The Falcons have won almost every game they were supposed to this year, and came within a goal of top-five ranked New Canaan.
They can keep reaping the rewards, even this year. Then drool over the potential of next year.
But that's all down the road. Ludlowe still has at least two more games this year.
And if the Falcons' juniors keep playing the way they are, probably more.