Boys lacrosse preview 2024: Amherst program led by family, friends

Amherst’s Owen Cunniffe (88) fires a shot against Northampton during action last season in Amherst.

Amherst’s Owen Cunniffe (88) fires a shot against Northampton during action last season in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Belchertown’s Rylan Queiros (8), left, carries the ball under pressure from Northampton defender Teddy Galvin (18) during action last season in Belchertown.

Belchertown’s Rylan Queiros (8), left, carries the ball under pressure from Northampton defender Teddy Galvin (18) during action last season in Belchertown. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

By CONNOR PIGNATELLO

Staff Writer

Published: 04-11-2024 4:18 PM

Modified: 04-11-2024 8:07 PM


Rich Ferro has been around Amherst boys lacrosse for decades. He played at Amherst in the 1990s, served as the Hurricanes’ athletic director from 2001-2019 and has been coaching hockey and lacrosse on and off for most of the past two decades.

This year, he’s the new head coach of the boys varsity program, and he’s surrounded by family and friends.

His coaching staff is made up entirely of friends with Amherst connections. Henry Wilson ‘93, Rafi Kurtz ‘05, Will Borrell ‘19 and Calvin Jackowitz ‘23 all played at Amherst and Greg Anderson’s three sons played there. Ferro has known many of the boys on the team since their early elementary school days between his teaching and his involvement in Amherst’s youth lacrosse program.

“I know a lot of these kids,” Ferro said. “I’ve coached them through the years, I’ve taught them, I’ve got relationships with a lot of these families.”

In addition, Ferro’s sons, freshman Sawyer and senior Skyler Ferro, are overlapping on varsity this year.

“All winter long with hockey, no matter if we were winning or losing, I just had to remind myself, ‘hey, this is pretty cool,’” Ferro said of coaching his sons on the ice. “And I need to take advantage of this while it’s happening.”

While Amherst brings a predominantly young group back from a team that went 7-7 last year, the Hurricanes return five experienced seniors. 47 players came out for tryouts, the highest number in 20 years, Ferro said.

Skyler Ferro will lead that group of seniors and he could reach 200 points this season. Fellow senior Taikoda Wilson, son of UMass lacrosse alum and Amherst assistant coach Henry Wilson, plays long-stick midfielder and can play short-stick on man-up. Ferro has known Taikoda since the day he was born.

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“Henry’s my best buddy, he’s my assistant coach right now,” Ferro said. “Taikoda and Skyler have been playing together for forever.”

Juniors Devine Moyston and Tre Bowman will also play starring roles for the Hurricanes. Moyston suffered a serious knee injury before last season was even halfway over and is returning to athletic competition for the first time this spring. Ferro calls Bowman “Gumby” and is shifting him to attack this year.

“He puts himself in spots in the field in between guys and comes up and I’m always like ‘I have no idea how you did that,’” Ferro said.

Four-year varsity defender Hayden McIntire will captain the defensive unit and sophomore goalie Jason Kim is “just a machine,” Ferro said. Kim also plays hockey goalie and Marion noted he has been quickly improving.

Amherst plays a tough schedule in the Valley League this season. They’ll play South Hadley, Wahconah, West Springfield and Agawam twice each in addition to a game against Valley Wheel power Westfield for the first time in almost a decade. The tougher schedule means the Hurricanes’ record might suffer, but their chances of earning a better seed in the state tournament are higher.

Amherst is 0-3 so far in 2024, with losses to Westfield, South Hadley and Wahconah.

“If we’re in a place where we’re .500 or less, it’s OK,” Ferro said. “This is alright, we’re playing really good teams and this is going to help us qualify for the tournament.”

Amherst

Coach: Rich Ferro

League/Division: Valley League/3

Roster: SENIORS: Evan Scott, Joshua Goodhind, Skyler Ferro, Hayden McIntire, Taikoda Wilson. JUNIORS: Eric Chen, Silas Hazen, Spencer McDonald, Caelan Woodard-McNiff, Devine Moyston, Nathan Oliver, Kyle Uysal, Tre Bowman, Owen Cunniffe. SOPHOMORES: Jason Kim, Tri Nguyen, Brian Sibrian Cruz, Liam Worgess. FRESHMAN: Sawyer Ferro. EIGHTH GRADE: Nathan Desbien.

South Hadley

Coach: Jeff Marion

League/Division: Valley League/4

Roster: SENIORS: Marty Loughrey, Owen Dawson, Jayden Krupa, Nolan Craven, Noah Marion, Bennett Allen, Dylan Molina, Ethan Roy, Mike Cebula, Sly Curto, Devon Carlton. JUNIORS: Julius Hebenth, Chase Blais, Miller Larochelle, Peyton Marion, Braden Grochowalski, Avery Haber, Jayden McMains, Brandon Leon. SOPHOMORES: Jasiel Ramos, Gavin Losty, Brayden Koske, Colin Lumb, Logan Luis. FRESHMEN: Rush Camacho, Marcus Whelihan, Mason Peters.

After last year’s 1-9 mark in the Valley Wheel and a 4-14 mark overall, South Hadley has moved down a league into the Valley League, though they’ll still play each Valley Wheel member once, in addition to newly independent Longmeadow.

The Tigers are led by Springfield College football commit Owen Dawson, who has been working on his shot this offseason.

“He’s really, really competitive,” South Hadley head coach Jeff Marion said. “Even in practice he wants to be first in everything.”

Noah Marion plays all over the field, from the faceoff circle to offense, defense, man-up, man-down and everywhere in between. Long-stick midfielder Julius Hebenth should also play a major role. Attack Ethan Roy is shifty and has a great understanding of the game, Marion said.

Fellow senior Bennett Allen will run the defense. Marion said he’s improved considerably every year.

Attack Sly Curto has also put lots of time in to improve his game. Now in his senior year, his right and left hands are equal, Marion said.

“He’s out there in the wintertime shooting and it’s paid off,” Marion said. “...You drive by and the kid is up there all the time.”

Belchertown

Coach: Nick St. George

League/Division: Pioneer League/4

Roster: SENIORS: Caiden St. Laurent, Caleb Reardon, Landon Andre, Rylan Queiros, Nico St. George, Dax Morin, Josh Grillo, Jacob Avgoustakis, Chris Daskam, Logan Lovett, Tyler Dauplaise. JUNIORS: Brian Fuller, Oliver Young, Patrick Fuller, Charlie Fijal, Max Bessette. SOPHOMORES: Vincent Ting, Adam O’Rourke, Tom Normandeau, Steven Ryan, Curt Wojnas.

The Orioles return an upperclassmen-heavy roster after a 6-10 record in 2023.

Landon Andre, Jacob Avgoustakis, Chris Daskam, Dax Morin, Rylan Queiros, Caleb Reardon and Nico St. George are all seniors entering their third year as varsity starters. Josh Grillo, out for the season with an ACL injury, is staying on as a manager.

“That crew has been together since fourth or fifth grade,” head coach Nick St. George said. “They’ve been playing lacrosse together for a long time.”

Granby

Coach: Jack O’Brien

League/Division: Suburban League/4

Roster: SENIORS: Danny Alexander, Kamryn Lopez, Connor McDonnell, Jordan Vieu, Ben Berger. JUNIORS: Riley Goodhind, Tristan Moe, Cody White, Stewart Slovek, Colby Szymonik, Sawyer Clarke. FRESHMEN: Danny Brown, Braydon Laduke. EIGHTH GRADE: Jacob Weglarz.

After an 8-6 record last year, the Rams are setting their sights on a Suburban League title, said first-year head coach Jack O’Brien.

Tristan Moe is a “ground ball machine,” Conner McDonnell is the Rams best goal scorer, and Riley Goodhind is a “go-to” on offense, O’Brien said. All three are captains. Junior Cody White is now a mainstay on defense after picking up the sport last year.

Eighth grade goalie Jacob Weglarz has stepped up after Nate Loughman’s graduation.

Northampton (co-op with Easthampton)

Coach: Charlie Edwards

League/Division: Pioneer League/3

Roster: Liam Parr, Keller Mahoney, Minti Peterson, Jack Carpenter, Jackson Oravec, Sean Flynn, Max Watermill, Nick Biddle, Dylan McGinn-Stevens, Anthony Torchia, Gabe Growhowski, Bryce McGinn-Stevens, Marty Maslowski, Oliver Johnson, Teddy Galvin, Aiden Subocz, Max Page-Lacoff, Armany Rodriguez, Eli Reid, Mykal Norris, Eli DeJesus, Henry Fallon, Lucas Tardy.

Northampton and Easthampton are combining for boys lacrosse this year for the first time and it’s been a “shot in the arm” for the program, head coach Charlie Edwards said.

The Blue Devils won their first two games in 2024 by double digits. Against Chicopee Comp on Tuesday, Keller Mahoney had four goals and Jackson Oravec and Jack Carpenter each scored three.

The Blue Devils will play in the newly-created Pioneer League this year, against Belchertown, Chicopee Comp, Lenox, Pittsfield and Hoosac Valley.

“We think we have an opportunity to really compete,” Edwards said.

St. Mary’s (co-op with Hampshire)

Coach: Gregory Towers

Roster: SENIORS: Sean McCarthy, Chris Rowbotham, Josh Cote, Owen O’Brien. JUNIORS: Noah Monteiro, Josh Castell, Austin Royland, Robinson Agresto, Michael Callahan, Aliel Davis, Kyle Vandeberghe, Tyeekem Edwards. SOPHOMORES: Remy Mercier, Parker Christy. FRESHMEN: Jose Millan, Jason Hurley, Brayden Fennessy, Liam Ramos, Ryan Evans, Devlin Boss, Brady Geffin, Alexander McCann. EIGHTH GRADE: Taylan McColgan. SEVENTH GRADE: Emerson DeWitt, Gio Daniele.

Rowbotham and Cote will serve as captains for the Saints, which co-op with Hampshire Regional. Towers is in his seventh season coaching the program, which won its opener against Central 10-9 earlier this week. Rowbotham and Ramos each netted hat tricks for St. Mary’s in the victory.