Lynnfield laxmen begin new season with win over Bedford
By Joe Mitchell
Last year’s rebuilding could be this spring’s resurgence back to the top after the Lynnfield High School boys’ lacrosse team defeated Bedford in the opener, 8-2.
Coach Joe Papagni said after the game that he was pleased with the team’s overall competitive effort. After some early jitters, he felt as if his team did what they needed to do, and that’s to compete on the varsity level in a fast-paced, physical environment. The veteran coach then mentioned Zach Huynh did an excellent job in net making 15 saves, which also included taking charge of the team’s clearing game. Papagni also praised the defensive effort, which was led by Hunter Allain, Nick Buonfiglio, Harry Drislane, Jackson Hammersley, Tyler Murphy and John Simonetti.
“Ty and Simo in particular stepped up as new players and showed that they just love to compete,” said Papagni.
Peter Razzaboni was also mentioned as a key component in the victory after winning 10 out of 12 face-offs. “Peter is such a key, because he gives us the extra possessions we need in a game,” said the coach. “But not everything was perfect, as we did have some first-game “dropsies” and bad passes, but I am very pleased with the effort overall.”
The game against Bedford started out slowly, with both teams trying to figure out what the other one was doing. They have hooked up against each other four times in recent years, and each game was decided by one goal.
In this year’s opener, the Pioneers scored first on a goal by Gianluca Alfe, who stole a clearing pass from the Bedford goalie and went in uncontested to account for an unassisted marker. “Coach Lamusta and I scouted Bedford prior to the contest and noticed that their goalie tended to make predetermined clearing passes to one of their better middies, and so Alfe was able to cover him well per our game plan, and ended up with a perfect steal and goal,” said Papagni.
Goalie Zack Huynh then kept Bedford off the board with three quick saves and clears early. He just made it look easy. “Zack looked like a seasoned veteran out there early on,” said the coach.
Hammersley on a feed from senior Nick Metrano gave the Pioneers a two-goal lead as the first quarter was winding down. “Nick is a good playmaker for us, and he found Hammer wide open just outside the crease,” Papagni said.
The sloppy play continued, but Papagni said it wasn’t due to a lack of effort, especially among the defensive units. The Pioneers killed off two man-down situations with good pressure from Simonetti and Murphy, while Allain was in control of the crease that allowed Huynh to gobble up the outside shots. Hammersley on a solo effort and Alfe via an assist from Peter Look was able to beat the Bedford goalie, before the half ended to give the Pioneers a 4-0 lead.
Papagni was a bit disappointed in the Pioneers’ execution early on in the second half. “We played as if a 4-0 lead at halftime was an automatic win,” he said. “I don’t coach that way, and I don’t expect my players to compete that way. Sometimes newer varsity athletes don’t get that competing for four quarters is imperative against other varsity teams.”
The Buccaneers came out flying to start the second half, but Huynh met the challenge. “Zack really saved us in that third quarter with some key saves,” Papagni said. “The kids just started standing around with the idea that four goals were 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 in the third quarter. Alfe with an assist from Hammersley and Metrano on a solo effort produced the tallies.
A defensive lapse gave the Buccaneers their first goal, denying Huynh an opportunity to record his first varsity shutout halfway through the fourth stanza. Bedford then made it 7-2 on a power play goal, but Hammersley was able to close it out with a goal as the clock was winding down.
“It was a good first win as I didn’t know what to expect,” said Papagni. “Zack proved to be a very competitive young player who looks like somebody we can count on.
“Our senior captains – Peter Look and Jack Razzaboni – played solid leadership roles in this game, and I was also pleased with our work on defense. It was a good start, but now we jump right into league play against Manchester Essex and Triton on Friday (April 13). I expect our team to be ready to compete within the [Cape Ann] league, and I’m glad league play is coming this early.”