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Lacrosse game to honor McDuffee

By Marvin Pave
Globe Correspondent / March 1, 2012
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The 10th anniversary of the stabbing death of Morgan McDuffee (pictured), who was a lacrosse captain at Lexington High and Bates College, will be marked with a benefit game celebrating his life Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Tufts University between his college alma mater and Skidmore, which is coached by former Bates teammate Jack Sandler.

Proceeds from the game will go to Morgan’s Fund, which was started by McDuffee’s fiancee, Suzi Andrew, to support nonviolent conflict resolution for at-risk youths, and MetroLacrosse, which offers playing opportunities for Boston-area youngsters.

Andrew, who played women’s lacrosse at Bates, said the tribute is “incredibly important for those who were close to Morgan to have an opportunity to share time together. The fund was a way for me to channel my grief into something positive, and I will never forget his kindness and thoughtfulness.’’

A 50-50 raffle and sale of 400 “Remembering Morgan’’ T-shirts with Bates and Skidmore logos, and a Bates alumni reception are also planned.

“Morgan was the son, brother, and teammate that you would want, and the most impressive young man I’ve had the privilege to be around in more than 30 years of coaching,’’ said Bates coach Peter Lasagna. “No one has worn his No. 2 since Morgan was killed, and no one will as long as I’m here.’’

The field was made available by Tufts coach Mike Daly; the Medford school, like Bates, belongs to the New England Small College Athletic Conference.

The murder of McDuffee, who was trying to rescue two teammates during a street brawl in Lewiston, Maine, near the Bates campus, was followed by the death of David Germaine, a former teammate at Lexington High. He was killed in an auto accident while returning from paying his condolences to McDuffee’s family in New Hampshire.

“The halls at Lexington High were silent for a week,’’ recalled former Lexington High lacrosse coach Dave Lautman. “Morgan was on the JV team as a sophomore, was called to the varsity, never left the starting lineup, and was a Division 1 North All-Star. At his wake my emotions made me want to say, ‘Wake up; this shouldn’t be. Those who love you are being robbed of what you could have become.’ ’’

The lacrosse numbers of Germaine and McDuffee have been retired at Lexington High.

Billy Tighe, a former Lexington High football coach, had great admiration for McDuffee, one of his former captains. “He was ferocious on the field and a gentleman off it,’’ said Tighe.

Bates players also wear McDuffee’s number on their uniforms.

McDuffee’s mother, Lisa Freeman, said she was touched and speechless when informed of the memorial game.

“The fact he’s still missed and cherished means Morgan’s spirit lives on,’’ said Freeman, who noted that the lacrosse scoreboard at Bates is named after her son, and that she and Morgan’s father, Regis McDuffee, accepted their son’s diploma posthumously.

The game will also be attended by McDuffee’s brothers, Dylan and Brendan, who said his older brother “always pushed me to be the best.’’

Three months after Morgan’s death, Brendan, then a senior lacrosse captain at ConVal Regional High in Peterborough, N.H., held the state Division 3 championship trophy. A year of tragedy, he said, had become in some measure a year of family triumph and healing.

“I wore Morgan’s No. 2 on a sweatband and his lacrosse gloves in that title game,’’ he said. “It’s a good feeling to know his memory is kept alive and well by the Bates community.’’

After the tragedy, Lasagna named four cocaptains, including Sandler, who is in his seventh year as head coach at Skidmore.

The Bobcats responded with their first win over Bowdoin in 17 years, an 8-6 overall record, and their first appearance in the New England Small College Athletic Conference tournament.

“We’re also going to wear Morgan’s No. 2 sticker Saturday,’’ said Sandler, who keeps a picture on his desk from the 2003 Bates alumni game. “It includes the scoreboard with Morgan’s name on it, and that’s very special to me,’’ he said.

“We want to keep raising awareness so that what happened to Morgan will hopefully never happen again,’’ Sandler said. “Playing the game he loved will help us remember a giving person whose glass was always half full.’’

Campus achievers

Stonehill College junior All-American Corey Thomas of Brookline, the current NCAA Division 2 indoor high-jump national champion, won his second career New England indoor high-jump title with a career-tying mark of 7 feet 2.25 inches last weekend . . . Milford’s Steve Ginand, a defenseman at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, was named the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference’s Ice Hockey Rookie of the Year. His 7 goals and 13 assists led all MASCAC blue-liners . . . Bentley coach Mary Kay Samko of Arlington was selected as the New England Swimming and Diving Association Women’s Swim Coach of the Year for the fourth time, and the Falcons’ Rick Danehy of Ashland was recognized as the association’s Charles Batterman Men’s Diving Coach of the Year for the fifth time.

Marvin Pave can be reached at marvin.pave@ rcn.com.

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