Boys Lacrosse: Newcomers abound for 2021 campaign

  • Mike Senecal, right, of South Hadley, moves the ball against Gavin Carello, of Westfield during action from the 2019 boys lacrosse season. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Intern
Published: 5/3/2021 7:41:56 PM

After a year away, boys lacrosse returns to Hampshire County this week. The season is shorter, but teams are in good spirits as a two-year break has finally come to an end.

“It was not fun last year,” said Northampton boys lacrosse head coach Peter Carbery. “Trying to see if it was just a waiting game or if we could get anything of a season in was terrible. When the season was finally called (due to COVID-19), it was a heartbreaker.”

Unlike most years, veteran players are hard to come by for high school teams locally. Northampton is one of several area schools in that boat.

“Looking at my current seniors and junior leaders for the team, they were sophomores and freshmen two years ago,” said Carbery. “So, there aren’t a lot of players returning that are going to make a huge impact.

“My starting goalie from two years ago, Jonathan Marshall, actually decided not to play this year because he was pursuing work for his education coming up in the fall,” he continued. “I also lost Brett Holden, who’s a running back for the football team, because he is also pursuing work for his upcoming education.”

Smith Vocational has similar issues, though theirs will likely directly impact what would have been the program’s full varsity debut.

“I don’t think we’re going to have enough players for the season,” said Smith athletic director Jeff Lareau. “I’ve only got about six or seven boys coming out for the team and I just don’t have the interest level from students at this moment.”

Smith Vocational was about to begin its first actual season having a boys’ lacrosse program. The Vikings had recently played a four-game independent season in 2019. The school had to run an independent season for two straight years before attempting to join the MIAA.

New Belchertown boys lacrosse head coach Nick St. George has a whole different challenge on his hands: entering his first year coaching in the middle of a pandemic.

“The biggest challenge really is getting to know all the kids,” said St. George. “It’s a short preseason for everyone and we start (Thursday). We got rained out (last week) so getting a system into place and getting the team ready to compete has been difficult.”

Rule changes were expected for the 2021 season to combat COVID and players will have to wear masks at all times during the game.

“I know that there are after-market products out there that allow players to put shields in their helmets. Even with that, players are expected to have face masks on at all times,” said Carbery.

Speaking with officials is also much different this year. If a player breaks social distancing protocols while confronting an official, they will immediately be assessed a yellow card, with a high possibility they are given a red card afterward.

Even with all the rule changes, many teams are taking this as a building year, with the focus on coaching up the young talent they have on their rosters.

“This year, I have one player returning who had practice time with the varsity team two years ago and he’s my anchor,” said Carbery. “I’m also trying to coach up some sophomores and a freshmen just to try and fill the holes on the team.”

St. George has the same mindset heading into his first game.

“We’re just going to work on the basics such as ground balls and throwing and catching,” said St. George. “The objective is to be basic in our approach to the game so we’re going to pick a few things, get good at them, and try to compete the best we can.”

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