Boys’ lacrosse previews: Hopkinton focused on repeat championships

From left, Hopkinton boys’ lacrosse captains Patrick Buss (14), Steven Reddy (8), Lincoln Wilson (22) and John Despres (6), head coach Deacon Blue and assistant coach Kyle Devitte celebrate with the championship plaque after the No. 5 Hawks defeated No. 2 Campbell, 7-4, to win the NHIAA Division III title on June 11, 2023, at Exeter High School’s Bill Ball Stadium.

From left, Hopkinton boys’ lacrosse captains Patrick Buss (14), Steven Reddy (8), Lincoln Wilson (22) and John Despres (6), head coach Deacon Blue and assistant coach Kyle Devitte celebrate with the championship plaque after the No. 5 Hawks defeated No. 2 Campbell, 7-4, to win the NHIAA Division III title on June 11, 2023, at Exeter High School’s Bill Ball Stadium. Rich Miyara / NH Sports Photography

Hopkinton’s Colby Boissy makes a save in the first half of the NHIAA Division III boys’ lacrosse championship on Sunday, June 11, 2023, at Exeter High School's Bill Ball Stadium. Boissy – then a first-year goalie – made 13 saves to help lead the No. 5 Hawks to a 7-4 victory over No. 2 Campbell. Boissy is back for another season between the pipes as the Hawks look to make another run at the title.

Hopkinton’s Colby Boissy makes a save in the first half of the NHIAA Division III boys’ lacrosse championship on Sunday, June 11, 2023, at Exeter High School's Bill Ball Stadium. Boissy – then a first-year goalie – made 13 saves to help lead the No. 5 Hawks to a 7-4 victory over No. 2 Campbell. Boissy is back for another season between the pipes as the Hawks look to make another run at the title. Rich Miyara / NH Sports Photography

Hopkinton players lift up Merrick Chapin (17) in celebration after Chapin scored with 2:38 left in the NHIAA Division III boys’ lacrosse championship on June 11, 2023, at Exeter High School’s Bill Ball Stadium. Chapin's goal gave the No. 5 Hawks the final tally in a 7-4 victory over No. 2 Campbell.

Hopkinton players lift up Merrick Chapin (17) in celebration after Chapin scored with 2:38 left in the NHIAA Division III boys’ lacrosse championship on June 11, 2023, at Exeter High School’s Bill Ball Stadium. Chapin's goal gave the No. 5 Hawks the final tally in a 7-4 victory over No. 2 Campbell. Rich Miyara / NH Sports Photography

Bow’s Gavin McCabe tries to run past Hopkinton’s Steven Reddy in last season’s D-III semifinal on June 7. Bow’s season ended that day, while Hopkinton went on to win the championship. McCabe and many starters from last year’s team are back to lead the Falcons in 2024.

Bow’s Gavin McCabe tries to run past Hopkinton’s Steven Reddy in last season’s D-III semifinal on June 7. Bow’s season ended that day, while Hopkinton went on to win the championship. McCabe and many starters from last year’s team are back to lead the Falcons in 2024. CHIP GRIFFIN / Photos By Chip

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL and DAN ATTORRI

Monitor staff

Published: 04-05-2024 10:25 AM

There are three adjectives Hopkinton head coach Deacon Blue used to describe his team entering the 2024 spring season: deep, strong and skilled.

The regular season hasn’t yet begun, but the defending Division III champions look well-positioned to have a shot at pulling off a repeat in June.

“I think more than ever that I’ve seen with our team, we just really didn’t skip a beat from last year,” Blue said. “The guys really have the same mentality we had in the latter half of last season which is great to see.”

Hopkinton graduated nine seniors from last year’s team that beat No. 1 Bow in the D-III semifinals and No. 2 Campbell in the state championship, including Defensive Player of the Year Steven Reddy. But Blue said the eight returning starters have remained focused on repeating the success of last year.

The 2023 season didn’t exactly start as planned for the Hawks. They began 5-5 through the first 10 games, but by the middle of the season, Blue said, the team became much more locked in and committed to winning.

“We weren’t quite doing everything we could’ve been in terms of just focusing up at practice, a little bit too much goofing off,” Blue said. “A couple new teams last year, Bow, Coe-Brown coming down from D-II, that was a bit more of a challenge than we expected, so we really had to push ourselves. When we were at .500 last year, we took a big look at what we were doing, we adjusted a few things. ... We went on an eight-game streak and won the championship.”

Looking ahead at this season, Blue highlighted captains on defense, Cam Bassett and Brayden Crawford, and captain Patty Buss, Merrick Chapin and Jackson Westover on offense.

Westover, in particular Blue said, should be a key scorer for the Hawks even though he’s only a freshman.

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Lots can change between now and the end of the season, but right now, Hopkinton finds itself with a good chance of being a top competitor in Division III this spring.

“Our mentality has always been one day at a time, keep improving, learn from your mistakes and have fun and support your team. That’s our formula,” Blue said. “I don’t think there’s anything too special we need to do against any specific opponent, just make sure we’re doing everything we can to support each other and have success on the field.” ​​​​​​

CONCORD

Division: I

Coach: Jeff Smith (12th year).

Last year: 5-13, reached quarterfinals.

Returning starters: Carter Doherty, so., A/M; Will Chorlian, sr., M; Sebastian Nichols, sr., D; Broc Pelchat, jr., D; Logan Shimer, so., G.

Top newcomers: Jaden Haas, fr., FO/M.

Outlook: Fifteen of the 25 players on the roster are sophomores, so the focus for the Tide will be gaining experience this season.

“We are looking for them to keep learning and get used to the speed of New Hampshire D-I lacrosse,” Smith said.

Shimer started eight games in goal last year for Concord, while fellow goalie Harry Snow is one of many sophomores who will compete for a starting role.

Teams to beat: Bishop Guertin, Pinkerton, Exeter.

HILLSBORO-DEERING/JOHN STARK

Division: II

Coaches: Howie Roever (4th year) and Thomas Zervos.

Last year: 1-13, did not make tournament.

Returning starters: Noah Carter, sr., D/G; Mason Nichols, sr., M; Cejay Noyes, jr., M; Lucas Gagnon, sr., A; Jakeb Hurd, sr., A; Ben Boothby, sr., D; Wyatt Puza, so., D.

Top newcomers: Parker Hamel, fr., G; Shane Brunini, fr., D; Cam Shaw, so., M.

Outlook: Hillsboro-Deering has two wins in its three-year history as a varsity program and looks to continue to improve in its second year as a cooperative program with John Stark.

“The HDJS boys’ lax team aims to get better every day,” Roever said. “To develop our talents. To play cohesively, as a single unit. We plan on growing as a group throughout the season and picking up some quality victories along the way.”

Teams to beat: Derryfield, Portsmouth, Timberlane.

MERRIMACK VALLEY

Division: II

Coach: Sean Gill (2nd year).

Last year: 4-10, did not make tournament.

Returning starters: Michael Kingsbury, jr., G; Nolan Beck, sr., A; Tyler Carter, jr., A; Conner Hanson, jr., A; Colin Reardon, so., A; Jackson Deyermond, jr., D; Travis Garcia, jr., D; Colby Scheffer, jr., D; Jacob Leclerc, jr., LSM; Mike Heine, jr., M; Brayden Hussey, sr., M; Matt Lauren, jr., M.

Top newcomers: Carter Lankhorst, fr., M/FO.

Outlook: “This season our primary goal is to make the playoffs,” Gill said. “Last season we were in a three-way tie for the bottom seed and this season we plan to earn our spot convincingly. To do this we have to focus on the fundamentals, playing together and forming a brotherhood. We have solid skills, speed and size in all positions, a junior goaltender who is locked in, scoring threats from the inside and out, and leadership across the team. Our greatest weakness right now is lack of field time, thanks to the New England weather, however, we are not the only team experiencing this. We are excited to get started.”

Teams to beat: Derryfield, Portsmouth, Timberlane, St. Thomas.

PEMBROKE

Division: II

Coach: Bill Lawson (2nd year).

Last year: 7-9, reached prelims.

Returning starters: Caden Mix, sr., M; Cameron Clarke, sr., A; Owen Hills, sr., A; Nathaniel Jordan, sr., M; Luke Hanson, jr., D.

Top newcomers: Gabriel Johnson, so., M.

Outlook: The Spartans reached the playoffs last season, but graduated 13 seniors from that team, and have 10 sophomores and a freshman on this year’s varsity roster.

“We have a lot of work in front of us, but are looking to improve on last years’ performance,” Lawson said.

Teams to beat: Derryfield, Portsmouth.

BISHOP BRADY

Division: III

Coach: Frank Lamparelli (4th year).

Last year: 6-10, reached quarterfinals.

Returning starters: Josh Lamparelli, sr., D; Evan Dow, sr., D; Ben Abromowich, sr., M; Alex King, jr., A; Joey Richard, so., A; Roman Shetpa, sr., SSDM.

Top newcomers: Oscar Pupillo, sr., D; Jack Devlin, so., M; Jason Doyle, jr., FO.

Outlook: “We are a young team with a strong, seasoned defensive unit,” coach Lamparelli said. “We graduated a lot of talent last year with the departure of seven seniors. Our goal as always is to contend with the top teams in the division.  We will take it one game at a time like we did last season with the ultimate goal of still be playing after Memorial Day.”

Senior captains Lamparelli and Dow will anchor the veteran defense.

Teams to beat: Laconia, Campbell, Pelham, Bow.

BOW

Division: III

Coach: Devin Calkins (2nd year).

Last year: 15-1, reached semifinals.

Returning starters: Brad Ekstrom, so., G; Gavin McCabe, sr., M; Ryan McCabe, sr., A; Brodie O’Neil, sr., A; Logan Rain, sr., A; Eli Ayers, so., D.

Top newcomers: Luke Virta, sr., D; Nate Davis, sr., A; Billy Smethurst, sr., A; Sam Bennett, so., M; Jake Antuna, jr., FOGO.

Outlook: The Falcons’ undefeated season came to an untimely end in overtime in the semifinals against Hopkinton, so Bow is especially eager to take the field. The Falcons also improved significantly from 2022, a season where they only won two games.

“We bring back a lot of our core, several seniors with game experience who lead by committee,” Calkins said. “We’re really strong at the goalie position and that’s a great place to build out from. Our biggest addition is probably adding another experienced coach to the assistant/defensive coordinator role. This is a group that knows about winning now, and it can be easy to get lost in that. So, our challenge is to stay process oriented instead of result oriented. If we can play with a consistently high level of engagement and focus, then we’ll put ourselves in a good spot.”

Teams to beat: Campbell, Laconia, Pelham.

COE-BROWN

Division: III

Coach: Tony DePalma (6th year).

Last year: 10-6, reached prelims.

Returning starters: Joseph Fenton, so., A; Ryan Matson, sr., M; Jack Matson, jr., G; Tully Keefe, sr., M; Ryan Rodler, jr., M.

Top newcomers: Sam Frye, fr., A/M; Cooper Copeland, fr., D; Rory Collins, fr., LSM; Colby Strum, fr., M; Jackson Alie, fr., G; Myles Brackett, fr., M; Ryan Toussaint, fr., D; Shea Raymond, so., D.

Outlook: After graduating 12 seniors from last year’s team that made the playoffs, this year’s squad is eager to step up in search of the program’s first ever playoff victory.

“There will be a lot of new guys getting time out there this year and we are excited to see how they step up,” DePalma said. “Like many, we have been grinding out the preseason in pavement paradise, so once the season starts we will get a better feel for how well this crew plays together. We are still in search of our first playoff win as a program, and the playoffs are a long way from now, so we just want to get better every day through focused training, and control the variables we can, while trying not to worry about the ones we can’t. … We will be ready and anxious to get out there to begin the process of discovering our potential.”

Teams to beat: Bow, Hopkinton, Campbell, Pelham.

KEARSARGE

Division: III

Coach: Chris Boucher (1st year).

Last year: 3-11, did not make tournament.

Returning starters: Noah Whipple, jr., D; Aiden Deegan, sr., M; Brodie Malynowsk, jr., G; Gunnar Benedict, jr., A; Elliot Asbury, sr., A; Owen Garzia, sr., D; Alex Tockman, sr., M/D; Noah Rubenberg, jr., M; Blake Grieco, so., M.

Top newcomers: Quinn Cusick, fr., M; Chase Paquette, so., D.

Outlook: The Cougars have a new coaching staff and several players returning after a year away from lacrosse, including team captain and defensive anchor Whipple, Garzia, Asbury and Tockman (also a captain). That brings Kearsarge’s number of players to 46 strong, a record number of participants. Deegan (captain), Tanner Lewis, Sawyer Slayton, Grieco and Cusick provide a lot of talent in the midfield.

“The team is looking to build on last year’s performance with the addition of new athletes and the return of key role players,” Boucher said. “Improved fundamentals, enhanced discipline and a renewed sense of excitement are expected to propel the program forward. The team will face tough competition in the first three games of the season (against Campbell, Trinity and Hopkinton), providing a challenging test for the new coaches and team.”

Teams to beat: Pelham, Hopkinton, Trinity.