Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Growing the Game: Middleboro's New Lacrosse Team is Ready to Compete

By Tom Joyce (@TomJoyceSports)

There were Sachems playing lacrosse before the Pilgrims came to America, but it wasn’t until this year that Middleboro High School Sachems began playing varsity lacrosse.

The several hundred-year-old sport - which also happens to be one of the nation’s fastest growing- found its way to Middleboro High two seasons ago as a JV team. At first, it was an experiment based off a school survey, which asked students the types of programs they like the school to offer.

Now, even if the sport is unfamiliar to Middleboro's student body, the Sachems are relishing the opportunity to compete against the best competition possible.

“It’s exciting to have the first varsity team in Middleboro,” first-year head coach Geno Brusa said following his team’s 13-6 road loss to Quincy/North Quincy on Monday. “We’ve got a lot of guys who work really hard in practice and we’ve got a lot of good people. It’s nice to have some skill on the team, but it’s even better to have really good people. They’re working hard and doing the right thing.”
Being a newer team means the Sachems are not the most dominant program yet. While Middleboro did go 6-5 as a JV squad last year, in 2017 the Sachems are still seeking their first win. Part of the reason for that is their experience, or in most cases, their lack thereof.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who are still learning the game,” Brusa said. “It’s been a challenge a little bit, but we’re making progress. We haven’t had a bad practice yet, so we’re getting better. These guys are getting better every day. We’re looking forward to what they can do.”

Though they are a younger team, the Sachems are still led by their three senior captains in Kevin Donohoe, Jack Lewicki, and Tyler Marano. Sophomore goalkeeper Garrett Donahoe is another experienced player who Brusa said helps lead the squad.

Another issue the Sachems now face as a program is the lack of a JV team for development. Since they made the jump to the varsity level, they needed the numbers for it. They had enough players to fill a varsity roster, but now there aren't enough players left over for the JV level.

In order to ensure the sport has a future in town, Brusa said many of his players are working closely with the town’s developing youth program. Their hope is to increase the sport’s popularity and to increase participation numbers.

“We’re hoping on growing it down the line,” Brusa said. “It should pay off for sure.”
Middleboro is just one of the latest schools to add a varsity program, as every year there seems to be a new lacrosse team or several popping up across Massachusetts. The game has grown extraordinarily in the Commonwealth since the turn of the century, when just over 4,700 boys competed in the sport at MIAA schools.  Last season, over 9,300 boys played MIAA lacrosse at an astounding 236 programs.

With numbers expected to be even higher this season, it's quite possible that participation in MIAA lacrosse will be more than double what it was just 17 years ago, and new programs like Middleboro, along with established powers in traditional "lax towns," and all schools in between are driving that growth.

No comments :