Boys Lacrosse Flashes Signs of Potential


A Walpole midfielder attacks a Newton North defender.

Peter Hoegler

A Walpole midfielder attacks a Newton North defender.
A Walpole midfielder attacks a Newton North defender.

The Boys Lacrosse team is already seven games in, but Head Coach Jason Andalo still does not have a pulse on this squad

After opening the 2014 campaign with a two wins and two losses against out-of-league opponents, Walpole (4-3) was unsure whether they were going to be a tier 1 team in the highly competitive Bay State Conference. But the Rebels—putting their early season struggles behind them—began league play with fire, dominating Newton North in every aspect of the game. Walking off Turco Field on April 8 with a 9-5 victory against a Carey Division powerhouse might be exactly what the Rebels need to upstart this season that has the potential to be the best since 2009.

“We’re still young in places and have some guys trying to figure out their roles,” said Andalo, whose squad is coming off an 11-8 season that included a first round loss in the M.I.A.A. Division 2 tournament to Foxboro.

“I feel like we’ve got a really good group down there. We scouted Newton North and were familiar with them and they didn’t change anything.”

Walpole began the 2014 spring season with up and down performances, including a 13-5 drubbing of King Philip, but an 8-3 loss against Dover-Sherborn. The Rebels thought that they could turn their season in the right direction against Franklin, but a last second goal by the Panthers in double overtime thwarted that opportunity.

“The overtime loss against Franklin stung a bit, but we were able to transfer that intensity against Newton North,” said senior Captain Pat Baker. “If we can play like we did on Tuesday day-in and day-out, we will have a very successful season.”

Baker was the one who sparked the first half offensive outburst, by slotting a mid-range opportunity early in the first quarter. Junior Seamus Ford—who had a team-high three points with two goals and an assist—then took it himself through the heart of the Newton defense to give Walpole a 2-0 lead after twelve minutes of play.

 This potent offense did not stop in the second quarter. Senior Mark Niden, the most consistent offensive weapon so far, netted two sweeping goals and Munachiso Egbuchulum, the junior transfer from New Jersey, scored with seconds remaining in the first half.

The Rebels also had a strong defensive effort in front of senior Captain Andrew Blood, who finished with eight saves on the afternoon. Andalo said, “Defense has been one of our best strengths,” Andalo said. “We know every day we are going to get an outstanding effort from [Andrew] Blood in net, but the defenders in front of him have been great too. We still make a lot of self-inflicted turnovers, but with practice, we can improve to be the best team that we can be.”

Walpole continued to fire on all cylinders in the second half, scoring four goals, even with their bench players. Senior Captain Sean Donnelly had a goal and an assist, and sophomore Conor Tracy—a Xaverian transfer—and junior Kevin Sullivan both scored their first career varsity goals.  Newton North made a desperate effort late in the fourth quarter, but Walpole’s lead was too big, and the Rebels took the win 9-5.

“It’s starting to look like this is our year,” said Baker. “We are a little inexperienced in some areas of the field, but we have star athletes on attack, in the midfield, and on offense. If we want to make a run at the Herget Division Title, we are going to have to cut down on the turnovers and limit the small mistakes on offense and defense. But I wouldn’t be surprised, when it’s all said and done, if we made a run at this thing.”

Walpole, who is now 3-1 in league play, hopes to carry over what they have been doing right into Herget play and even the State Tournament.