The word rebuilding is foreign to coach Chris Sweet and the Duxbury lacrosse program. Always has been. So they lost four All-Americans (Chris Nixon, Matt Fuchs, Chris Casey, Bobby Schnibbe). Big deal. So they lost Max Quinzani (Duke), the all-time national leading scorer in high school lacrosse with 577 points. No problem. Sweet doesn't seem too worried.
"We were a more balanced team prior to last season," said Sweet, whose team is 96-4 the last four seasons and has won three straight Division 1 state titles and four of the last five. "As much as I would never trade a Max Quinzani, or a Chris Nixon, I think we have a chance to [be more balanced] this year, and in a strange way, I think that makes us better."
Leading the attack will be Troy Neville (tremendous on faceoffs), Bob Barry, and Ben Sederberg. Watch for Gus Quinzani (Max's brother), a junior midfielder, to play a key role.
Defensively, the Green Dragons are big and athletic. Senior captain Luke O'Day and junior Craig Sullivan will protect Mike Siegfried, who after two years as the backup, will man the net.
The Dragons play in the newly formed Patriot League, which also includes Scituate, Hingham, and Hanover. Sweet scheduled 14 nonconference games, and Duxbury will play in New York the first three weekends of the season.
"After the last five or six years, we're going into the season believing we can get back to the title game. That's the attitude our players have, and if we play as a team I believe we'll have a great season."
Lincoln-Sudbury will be a potent team. Brian Vona's squad, which lost to Duxbury in the EMass semifinals last season, is led by one of the best defensemen in the country, Jason Orlando. The 6-foot-7-inch, 230-pound long-stick defender committed to Duke as a junior and brings leadership to a young team.
"He can take the ball away from any player," said Vona. "That's a great luxury to have."
Vona lost a lot of firepower offensively, but it's nothing new. He said he's lost an average of 12 players per season and L-S currently has 32 players at college programs. Vona will start five sophomores and one freshman this season, and senior Russ Halliday will be the go-to-guy offensively for the Warriors.
Billerica has more depth at each position than in recent memory. It also added assistant coach Nolan Godfrey, who was selected 10th overall by the Philadelphia Barrage in this year's Major League Lacrosse supplemental draft. The Catholic Conference boasts perennial contenders Xaverian, Malden Catholic, and St. John's Prep. Beverly, which has 17 seniors, hasn't lost a Northeastern Conference game since 1999. Lexington and Peabody will also be strong.
Medfield is a cut above the field in Division 2. Coach Bob Aronson, for the second straight season, lost one of his sons to graduation. Last season, he moved on without Matt (Yale) and this season he will be without Luke (Hotchkiss), Medfield's all-time leading scorer with 333 points (164 goals, 169 assists). C.J. Estes, a four-year starter, is the Warriors' most dangerous attackman. Medfield has a nice mix defensively and will be hard to overtake in the Tri-Valley League.
Goaltender Jake McCampbell will rely on fellow seniors Sam Major and Jamie Wulforst for protection. The Warriors also have two talented sophomore defensemen in Jake Smith (5-11, 170) and Phillip Thompson (6-1, 175).
Defending Division 2 champion Wellesley had the best defense in the state last year, with a minuscule 3.1 goals allowed in the regular season. Chris Gelinas's club, which beat Medfield in the EMass final in overtime, lost its four top defenders in Scott Grillo (Skidmore), Andrew Elfman (Tufts), Patrick Hislop (Commonwealth), and Ray Mooney (Trinity). The Red Raiders also took a hit offensively with the loss of attackman Chris Teves.
Winchester has a slew of scorers returning. Senior attack Ben Moran, who had 42 goals and 12 assists last season, will anchor the offense. Watch out for Tucker Delaney-Winn. He had 39 goals and 39 assists as a sophomore last season. The Sachems lost defenseman and Middlesex League MVP Ryan Riedl (Providence).
Wayland, led by All-Scholastic football player Ben Sherry, returns 12 players. Coach Tom Cavanaugh said his team is inexperienced at midfield, but junior Sam Bekenstein, who played junior varsity last season, has been a pleasant surprise in the early going.
Arlington, co-champ of the Greater Boston League last season with Peabody, lost 14 players, including Jackson Fallon (Providence), who set the school record for saves with 411. Hingham, Waltham, and Walpole should make some noise.
It's all about defense for Stew Curran and Cohasset as the Skippers look to repeat in Division 3. Cohasset's defenders are monstrous: Jeff Brown (6-4, 200), Jake Cuneo (6-4, 265), Connor Holway (6-2, 225), Anthony DePaulo (6-2, 210), and the smallest of the bunch, Bob Meikelham (6-2, 170). The talented defense should help ease Nate Porter's transition as he replaces Ben Libby in net.
The Skippers lost all-time leading scorer Aidan Buick, but Mark Flibotte, Mike Bunstein, and Chris Davis will lead the attack. Mike Grimm, a junior attack, is healthy after suffering a knee injury that kept him out most of last season.
Scituate lost only one player of note in midfielder Colby Hawkins (Endicott). The Sailors are led by third-year goaltender Jake Gray and their vaunted matchup zone defense. Watch out for midfielder Gary Crowley, who had 78 points last season and may be one of the most underrated players around.
Hamilton-Wenham lost 10 seniors, but coach Jim LaSelva has young talent and the Generals will challenge for the Cape Ann League title. Hanover will be a surprise team. The good news: Indians coach Paul Zaylor returns five of his top six offensive players, including twins Mark and Bill Jackson. The bad news: Hanover has an entirely new defense and plays in the demanding Patriot League. Dover-Sherborn should be tough.