By Mike Flanagan @flano0
SUDBURY – Despite the 2018 high school lacrosse season just coming to an official end this past weekend over at Boston University, the preparation for next season is already underway.
Five of the Boston area’s top public high school programs; Division I powers Lincoln-Sudbury and Hingham, Division 2 State runner-up Concord-Carlisle, and Northern Massachusetts programs on the rise in Melrose and St. John’s Prep, all took to the field in the second annual New England Lacrosse Showcase at Lincoln-Sudbury High School on June 26 and 27.
The NELS, a jamboree-style tournament, gives some of the Nation’s top public high school programs an opportunity to mesh together, for the first time without their recently graduated classes, all while showcasing themselves in front of college coaches/scouts from all over the country. Along with the five Massachusetts programs, elite National powers, Darien (CT), Ward Melville (NY), Delbarton (NJ) and several others programs traveled up to the Bay State to compete in the showcase tournament.
Despite a tough second-round exit in overtime to eventual Division I North champ Acton-Boxborough two weeks ago, Lincoln-Sudbury is already getting after it and doing their part to better themselves for 2019, as the group looks to mesh without their recent core group of graduated seniors. Among the many L-S Warriors who came out and suited up, the three stood tall in their final game of the day were rising senior midfielder Kyle Smith (two goals, two assists), rising senior attackman John Herlihy (two goals, one assist), and rising junior goaltender Andrew Vona (10 saves).
“It was a good start to the 2019 season,” Herlihy said following the tournament. “A lot of guys came out and stepped into a new role and it’s good to get everybody together again.”
“Our defense didn’t start out too strong but we came together and fixed some things that needed to be fixed,” said Vona. “I thought we improved game-by-game and finished strong.”
“We’re young right now,” said Smith. “We graduated a lot of seniors and everybody stepped up and played well and it was a really good showing from our new team.”
Hingham, meanwhile, turned the page on 2018, with a D1 South Sectional final loss to eventual State Champion BC High. The No. 1 seed in Division I South this season graduated some key cogs in three-time All-American Frankie Higgins, along with All-American scorers Jake Quilty and Marshall Terres. Despite that, Hingham still put together a solid showing, picking up three wins in Pool Play on Tuesday, thanks to some outstanding play by a pair of rising seniors, Jonathan Bearden and Will Kenney, while rising junior goaltender George Egan continued to show great improvement between the pipes.
As for Concord-Carlisle, there is plenty of optimism not just due to the season the Patriots are coming off of (Division 2 Central/East crown and state runner-up), but also because C-C returns nearly their entire offense next season. C-C picked up two wins over the two-day event, over Bellevue (WA) and La Salle (RI), and was led by the play of rising junior attackmen Jack Bowen and Devin Smith, along with strong defensive play from rising senior Charlie Cook, rising junior LSM Welles Hatch, and rising junior midfielder Cam Ladd.
As for Melrose, the Red Raiders performed well for a team who just lost nine players to graduation. A tough D2 North Sectional semifinal loss to eventual Division 2 State Champion, Reading, shows some room for improvement, but their presence alone at this week’s showcase displays that Melrose is already taking the necessary steps to go further in next season’s tournament. Anytime you pick up two wins, over St. John’s Prep and Bishop Guertin (NH), in a tournament with the caliber of these programs, you have to be pleased.
St. John’s Prep also showed that they will be a tough opponent for future MIAA foes in 2019 and beyond, as they picked up a nice win over Bellevue (WA) on Wednesday. The Eagles, who played as well any team in D1 North in the second half of the 2018 season, will be an exciting team with a strong defense when we see them again in March of 2019.