Two years ago this spring, Masconomet boys’ lacrosse coach Tom Cobb was walking off the field at Lincoln-Sudbury in the pouring rain.
He carried no umbrella, and after watching from the sidelines as his squad was exposed by the high-powered Warriors during the 17-6 loss, Cobb was already soaking wet and seemingly OK with it. He talked about how he wanted the Masconomet program to someday reach a comparable level to L-S and the other “Big Four” Division 1 schools (Duxbury, St. John’s Prep and Billerica). And while Mike Magnifico did what he could for the Chieftains in 2010, they simply didn’t have enough.
But the future was still bright. Cobb had three outstanding sophomore midfielders at the time: Tim Towler, Jake Gillespie and Kurt Hunzinger.
“I remember that day,” said Cobb. “We got beat in every area on the field. Those three were on the team. And those guys have all been playing together for a long time, since they were real little.”
Now they’re seniors, and with eight other classmates on the team, they’re expected to do a whole lot. Hunzinger, a hulking, 6-foot-3, 200-plus-pound short-stick midfielder, is a matchup’s nightmare heading to University of Massachusetts-Amherst in the fall. Towler (Merrimack) and Gillespie (Tufts) add two more scoring threats from the top of the crease, creating quite the problem for the opposition.
And it’s not as if area coaches don’t know about them – “Everyone has pretty much seen the show now,” Cobb joked – but containing all three of them at the same time remains quite the challenge. The Chieftains have averaged almost 15 goals per game.
“The cool thing about having three guys,” Cobb said, “is that you can only have four poles on defense. So you have to make a decision what you want to do. If you want to pole all three up top, which some coaches have done, the attackmen have a couple nice looks. And if you short-stick one of the three midfielders, that one picks up the slack.
The Chieftains, who beat BC High for the first time ever, were off to a 6-2 start before Monday’s showdown with Billerica – the third consecutive challenge for Masconomet after falling to Westford Academy (7-2 through Sunday) in a one-goal game and beating Reading (6-3 through Sunday).
Sure, it’s early. But this just might be the year Cobb was anticipating from the rainy sidelines at Lincoln-Sudbury in 2010.
“You always hope that,” he said. “Right now, I think we’re within that top group. And when you get to that group, it’s whoever plays best that day who is going to win.”
Hard to predict
Trying to predict outcomes between some of the top teams in Eastern Mass. this season? Good luck. One look at Masco’s schedule shows why that’s nearly impossible.
Masco got smoked by Acton-Boxboro to start the season. Westford went on to beat A-B decisively. Reading then got the best of Westford in an overtime thriller. And on Saturday, Masco beat Reading, 9-6, to complete the full circle.
The only sure thing, according to many area coaches, is Duxbury, which has just two losses, both of which came to nationally-ranked teams from New York. Meanwhile, Concord-Carlisle shocked Lincoln-Sudbury, Hingham and Wellesley all in the same week. And to think coach Tom Dalicandro said his squad was in a bit of a “rebuilding” stage.
Other coaches laugh at the thought.
“Not many teams can play the way that Concord-Carlisle plays,” Cobb said.
“Front to back, that’s a good, smart, well-coached team,” said Wellesley skipper Rocky Batty. “And they’re deep.”
There was a scary moment for Medfield during the Warriors’ 17-7 loss to Duxbury on Wednesday when high-scoring attackman Connor Roddy was pummeled while taking a shot and sent to the hospital with a concussion.
“He had his clock cleaned,” said one area coach who was at the game. “The kid who hit him got a one-minute penalty, but it didn’t look malicious at all. That happens when you’re coming across the crease.”
Losing Roddy for a significant amount of time would certainly be a big loss for the Warriors, who then squeaked by Xaverian (3-5 record), 10-8, just three days after the injury.
Don't we know you?
Here’s something you don’t see every day: Dick Kerr (Concord-Carlisle) and Steve Connolly (North Andover) were coaching against each other this weekend – except for the first time, it was at the junior varsity level.
The two coaching legends are often credited with growing the sport of lacrosse in this part of New England, though Kerr retired from his varsity post in 2008 and Connolly stepped aside after last season.
“They just never leave the game,” marveled Dover-Sherborn coach Brian McLaughlin. “The two old pioneers of lacrosse. That was pretty neat.”
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