Nashoba Sweeps in LAX Doubleheader
By Ellen Oliver
In the first ever night games for Nashoba Lacrosse, the Chieftains swept the North Middlesex Patriots with solid showings under the lights in Bolton. The girls defeated North Middlesex 13-8, while the boys who took the field in the second half of the doubleheader, won 16-6.
The girls kicked off the night with the first game, taking control from the start. “We played a strong game overall. Our defense looked great. We took our time on offense and were patient,” reported Coach Laura Banas.
Senior Kara McCormack led the scoring with four goals, followed by junior Brittany Joseph with three. Then Coach Banas’ patient offense spread the other goals around the squad with one each from senior Meg Wheeler, senior Anna Schab, junior Sammy Gjeltema, junior Abbie McCaffrey, sophomore Kaitlyn Thorogood and sophomore Karleigh Elkins. Sophomore goalie Janice Bolton had six saves.
The boys’ team had the Patriot’s number from the start, with senior Trevor Pilkington scoring within the first minute of the game, his first of five goals on the night. Senior Kyle Elkins notched six goals and junior Mike d’Entremont, junior Ben Czekanski, sophomore Casey Elkins, senior Mike Lengieza, and junior Beau Brassard contributed one each.
The home wins were big psychological victories after both teams lost their season openers against Shrewsbury earlier in the week. The boys’, playing at home, fell 10-4 to the Colonials, while the girls’ travelled to Shrewsbury to be defeated 16-8.
“It was a tough way to start the season,” admitted boys Coach Kevin McNamara. “In the first four minutes, Shrewsbury scored four goals. After that it was back and forth, but we had dug ourselves a hole,” he said. “I told the team that game exposed our weaknesses and that’s a good thing. Now we know what we need to do.”
Coach McNamara is new to the Nashoba lacrosse program and new to head coaching, but is experienced in the environment of Central Mass lacrosse. A player out of Worcester, McNamara spent two years as the defensive coordinator at Becker College and an assistant for St John’s and Worcester High School.
McNamara is the third coach in Nashoba’s five year program and he hopes the revolving door stops with him. “My goal was to be a high school coach,” he explained. “I looked for a program where I could make a commitment and Nashoba was very appealing to me. I plan to be around for a while.”
The loss of last years’ seniors left a deficit on the defensive side of the squad, so McNamara knows he will have to make adjustments. “We lost a lot on defense, so we are a little inexperienced there, but once we get going, we will be solid,” he predicted. His words held true in the game against North Middlesex where the defense, centered around quick handed junior goalie Matt Rixon, stepped up to thwart attacks by the Patriots.
When McNamara took the job, he met with the seniors and had a realistic talk about goals. “We’ve made the playoffs every year, but they’ve been one and done,” said McNamara. “We want to make that push to the next step until we hit the ultimate goal of winning championships.”
McNamara explained that the first signs of a stronger program will be a higher playoff seeding, followed by a deeper push into the brackets. “We’ve had a .500 record going into the playoffs. We want to be better going in,” he said. “Progress starts with separating ourselves before we take on the heavy hitters in Central Mass.”
Before they can begin the quest for a championship, the new coach and team still have to get to know each other. “They’re trying to learn my system and I’m trying to tweak my system to the guys’ strengths. They’ve been really responsive, but we know it will take some time,” said McNamara.