By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – In its inaugural, the St. Paul boys lacrosse team was a state tournament performer in 2013 and this season, the Falcons are looking for more of the same. With a collective year under their belts, the St. Paul team is growing and growing and only off losing two seniors from last season’s team, a strong core returns to action.
Here’s a quick look at St. Paul’s boys lacrosse team:
Head Coach: Paul Hylan (2nd year)
Last season’s Ledger: 8-8 overall, 0-2 in WCLC & state tournament action
2013 Tournament: Ranked 19th in the Class S fray, the Falcons dropped a 16-0 decision to No. 14 Northwest Catholic back on May 26.
Junior Varsity Record: 2-0
Key Losses: Solomon McIver and Max Pryor
Strength: Returning veterans
Captains: Collins McGowan (sr); Marcello Sabino (sr); Jonathan Hylan (jr); Jack Sullivan (jr)
Defense: Collin McGowan (sr); Marcello Sabino (sr); Joe Strid (jr); Joe Garvey (so)
Long Stick Mid-Fielder: Jack Sullivan (jr)
Mid-Fielders: Nicky Villani (sr); Ryan Tierney (sr); Adam Wiernasz; Ben Pryor (so); Brain Rackliffe (so); Chris Tkac (so); Jonathan Bruce (so).
Attack: Ben Stump (sr); Tyler Pelletier (sr)
Attack/Mid-Fielder: Jonathan Hylan (jr)
Goalies: Zachary Stefanski (jr); Brendon Tierney (so)
What to expect from the Falcons: The Falcons first foray into lacrosse fostered a neat 8-8 ledger so why shouldn’t the team be much improved from last season?
The coaching staff certainly has high hopes in that regard
“Once again the players and the coaching staff of the St. Paul Catholic High School Boy’s Lacrosse Team are excited to be entering their second year as a varsity lacrosse program especially after the success of last year’s team who made both the Western Connecticut Lacrosse Conference Tournament as well as the CIAC State Lacrosse Tournament,” said Hylan.
Two outgoing seniors had to be replaced in the form of Solomon McIver and Max Pryor. The duo were instrumental parts of the successful squad from last season, especially on the defensive end of things.
“Going into the 2014 Lacrosse season, the St. Paul Catholic High School Boy’s Lacrosse Team has two big shoes to fill,” said Hylan, “due to the loss of All-WCLC goalie Solomon McIver and defenseman Maxwell Pryor to graduation.”
But the squad does have more than a couple players to choose from as the team has been growing and growing and with the departure of McIver and Pryor, it creates and opportunity for others who will be more than able and ready to step up to the challenge.
Junior Stefanski and sophomore Brendon Tierney are ready to accept such a challenge along with senior captain Marcello Sabino to shore up the defense.
“Both Brendon Tierney and Zachary Stefanski have been working hard both off season and during practice to help fill in the gap at goalie as well as Marcello Sabino to fill in the gap at defense,” said Hylan. “Once again this year, the key aspect to our team will be the strong defensive play because as anyone knows is that defense wins games. I also believe that we are going to be stronger in both the Mid-Field and Attack positions.”
That strong defense also includes senior captain Collin McGowan, Sabino, junior Joe Strid, and sophomore Joe Garvey.
Junior captain Jack Sullivan is St. Paul’s long stick midfielder while a strong group of midfielders includes seniors Nicky Villani and Ryan Tierney.
St. Paul’s attack position includes the senior tandem of Tyler Pelletier and Ben Stump while junior captain Jonathan Hylan will man the attack/midfielder position.
And as the veterans return to key positions on the field, a young group of newcomers will watch and learn and possibly get some playing time this season right off the bat.
“Another key is the improvement in some of our first year players from last year as well as the addition of seven freshmen especially Peter Longo, Eric Passeck, and Chris Zajac who have some lacrosse playing experience,” said Hylan.
The Falcons will have some competition in town from Bristol Central and Bristol Eastern this season.
And one of the Falcons’ goal this season is to be “the first varsity lacrosse program in the City of Bristol to win the first varsity lacrosse game ever to be played in the City of Bristol” said Hylan.
Another team’s goal is to make the Western Connecticut Lacrosse Conference’s playoffs in May as well as making a return trip to the CIAC State Lacrosse playoffs.
But at St. Paul, there’s always one goal that rules all others this year.
“As always the major goal of the St. Paul Catholic High School Boy’s Lacrosse Team is to play each lacrosse game hard and to always honor the game of lacrosse,” said Hylan.
WCLC Outlook: “We are once again excited to be a member of the Western Connecticut Lacrosse Conference whose members are Lewis Mills, Watertown, Housatonic, and Wamogo with the addition of Holy Cross and Amistad Academy,” said Hylan. “As for teams to beat in our conference, I cannot think of one team to beat in our league because all of the teams in our conference are going to be tough to play.”