Boys’ lax gets off to flying start

Apr 12, 2018 by

Pioneers primed for big improvement in 2018

Published in the March 11, 2018 edition


LYNNFIELD — The Lynnfield boys’ lacrosse team got off to an excellent start to their 2018 season last week with an 8-2 victory over Bedford at LHS.

In speaking with his team in the post game conference, head coach Joe Papagni expressed that he was pleased with the team’s overall competitive effort. After some early game jittters Papagni felt as if his team did what they needed to do to compete at the varsity level in a fast-paced and physical environment. 

The coach mentioned senior Zack Huynh’s excellent job in net with 15 saves and great execution of Lynnfield’s clearing game. Papagni praised the defensive effort led by Hunter Allain, Nick Buonfiglio, Harry Drislane, Jackson Hammersley and especially Ty Murphy and John Simonetti.

ZACK HUYNH squares up a shot from Bedford during Lynnfield’s 8-2 season opening win on April 5. Huynh made 15 saves in his first start as a goalie. Although new to the position this year, coach Joe Papagni said the senior is athletic, smart and competitive enough to be a strength for the Pioneers. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

“Ty and Simo stepped up as new players that just love to compete,” said Papagni.

Peter Razzaboni was also mentioned as a key to victory winning 10 out of 12 faceoffs.

“Peter is such a key,” said Papagni. “He gives us the extra possessions that we need.” 

“Not everything was perfect as we did have some first game ‘dropsies’ and bad passes but I am very pleased with their effort,” Papagni said. 

The game started out slowly with both teams feeling each other out. Bedford and the Pioneers have played in four games over the past seasons and each game was decided by one goal.  The Pioneers first goal of the season and the game was scored by GianLuca Alfe who stole a clearing pass from the goalie and went in uncontested for an unassisted goal. 

“Coach Lamusta and I scouted Bedford the other day and noticed that their goalie tended to make predetermined clearing passes to one of their better middies,” said Papagni. “Alfe covered him per the game plan and ended up with a perfect steal and goal.” 

Huynh kept Bedford off of the board with three quick saves and clears early on that he just made look easy. 

“Zack looked like a seasoned veteran out there early on,” said his coach. 

Hammersley with a feed from senior Nick Metrano gave the Pioneers a two-goal lead as the first quarter winded down. 

JUNIOR MIDFIELDER GianLuca Alfe winds up for a shot against Bedford on Thursday. Alfe scored three of Lynnfield eight goals in the season-opening win. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

“Nick is a good playmaker for us and he found ‘Hammer’ wide open just outside the crease for the goal,” Papagni recounted. 

The sloppy play continued but as Papagni said, it wasn’t due to a lack of effort as the kids really were working hard; especially the defensive units. The Pioneers killed off two man down situations with good ball pressure from Simonetti and Ty Murphy with Allain containing the crease and Huynh gobbling up the outside shots. 

Hammersley unassisted and Alfe assisted by Peter Look  were able to beat the Buccaneer goalie before the half ended to give the Pioneers a 4-0 lead.

Papagni was a bit disappointed in the Pioneers early second half execution. 

“We played as if a four-goal lead at halftime was an automatic win. I don’t coach that way and I don’t expect my players to compete that way. Sometimes newer varsity athletes don’t understand that competing for four quarters is imperative against any varsity team.” 

The Buccaneers came out flying to start the second half, but Huynh met the challenge.

“Zack really saved us in that 3rd quarter with some key saves. The kids just started standing around with the idea that four goals was enough. While watching the game film, we learned a lot about ourselves and the idea of competing all the time.” 

The Pioneers were just the better team and they were able to rally behind Huynh’s saves to get two more goals during the 3rd quarter.

Alfe with an assist from Hammersley, and Metrano with an unassisted goal, helped the Pioneers regain their spark.  A defensive lapse gave the Buccaneers their first goal and Huynh’s opportunity for a first victory shutout to make the score 7-1 halfway through the 4th. Bedford made it 7-2 on a power play and Hammersley closed out the Pioneer scoring as the clock expired to give the Pioneers their first victory. 

“It was a good first win as I didn’t know what to expect,” said Papagni. “Zack (Huynh) proved to be a very competitive young man who it looks like we can count on. Our senior captains, Peter Look and Jack Razzaboni played solid leadership roles and I was pleased with our work on defense. It was a good start, but we jump right into league play Tuesday and Friday this week with Manchester Essex and Triton. I expect our team to be ready to compete within the league and I’m glad it (league play) is coming this early.”

The Pioneers won’t have as many players in the program as previous years, but Lynnfield is hoping for quality over quantity this season.

“In small towns, we do see swings in numbers and we have a downward number now with a huge 7th grade coming up,” said Papagni. “However, my quality means quality in being able to compete at a higher level. I believe that we are capable of meeting that challenge.”

Competing is the theme for this year’s team after Lynnfield finished at 5-13 last year. If the Pioneers can be ready to compete every game and every practice, then they will see a drastic improvement.

“That means having pride in the way you practice which will carry over to the way you compete in a game,” noted Papagni. “We need to understand what is needed to compete at varsity speed, varsity toughness and at a high level. That will take a big commitment from our captains and leaders. I expect to make the tournament with the proper attitude and team commitment.”

The Pioneers travel to Triton on Friday at 3:45 p.m., before hosting Revere on Tuesday, April 17 at 11 a.m.

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