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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Lacrosse has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, and the seven towns that Hometown Weekly covers (Dover, Medfield, Needham, Sherborn, Walpole, Wellesley, Westwood) have all become certifiable hotbeds for the sport.
But how hot, exactly?
Currently, 37 NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse players reside in, or are natives to, Hometown Weekly’s seven towns (Dover – five, Medfield – seven, Needham – eight, Sherborn – three, Walpole – three, Wellesley – eight, Westwood – three).
It’s a shocking number.
So, why would 37 different young men, all from seven adjacent towns competing against one another on the college lacrosse field, be so staggering?
For that, we are going to test your math skills:
There are approximately 325.71 million people who live in the United States, of which approximately 3,337 play NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse. The total population of Hometown Weekly’s seven towns as related to the latest United States census is approximately 93,567 people, accounting for just around .029 percent of the United States’ population.
So, while just .029 percent of the United States population resides in these seven towns, its residents make up 1.1 percent of the current allotment of NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse players at 37 of 3,337.
Put in another way, a varsity lacrosse player in Hometown Weekly’s seven communities is almost 40 times more likely to play NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse than his counterparts in Anytown, USA.
When you consider that a significant portion of the sport is made up of players from the Mid-Atlantic region (New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia) and just how much larger every single one of those states (with the exceptions of Delaware and Maryland) is population-wise to Massachusetts, the fact that these seven towns have been able to produce this high of a presence in NCAA men’s lacrosse is simply incredible.
What this data also shows is that while larger towns like Needham and Wellesley, both of which have the two largest presences in NCAA men’s lacrosse of Hometown’s seven areas of coverage, lead the way, the number of players who come from smaller towns like Dover (five), Sherborn (three), Walpole (three), and Medfield (seven) is equally robust.
High school lacrosse is a sport that relies on the thoroughness of a town’s youth program. A bad or a non-active youth program, 99 percent of the time, results in a town’s public high school struggling to win games on the lacrosse field.
On the other hand, a thriving and successful youth lacrosse program that starts for kids at a young age, just like the ones that are present in every single one of Hometown Weekly’s seven towns, results in success for these boys later on in life at the high school level.
When taking into consideration just how strong the youth programs are in Dover-Sherborn, Medfield, Needham, Walpole, Wellesley and Westwood, it shouldn’t be too much of a shock that this area has produced a significant portion of the best men’s lacrosse talent around.
With that said, Hometown Weekly is sending good luck and congratulations to the following local collegiate athletes as they begin their seasons:
Army: Dalton MacAfee (Needham).
Brown: Max Gustafson (Sherborn), Will Richardson (Wellesley), Alex Santangelo (Medfield), Michael Panepinto (Needham).
BU: John Maclean (Medfield), Grant Gregory (Sherborn), Kyle Parsons (Wellesley).
Dartmouth: Mike Connolly (Wellesley/St. Sebastian’s), Parker Joyce (Wellesley/St. Sebastian’s).
Harvard: Jack Frisoli (Westwood/St. Sebastian’s), John O’Leary (Westwood), Morgan Cheek (Wellesley), Watson Cheek (Wellesley).
Hartford: Jake Fink (Needham)
Holy Cross: Will Murphy (Medfield), Jack Cahill (Medfield), Mike Phelan (Sherborn).
Johns Hopkins: Pat Fraser (Walpole).
UMass: Mike Elcock (Needham), Sam Eisenstadt (Needham).
UMass-Lowell: Clifford Kurker (Needham).
Mercer: Will McCarthy (Walpole/Xaverian).
Michigan: Eric Smith (Dover).
Mount St. Mary’s: John Hargreaves (Dover).
North Carolina: Bailey Laidman (Dover).
Ohio State: Lukas Buckley (Walpole/Xaverian).
Penn State: Sean Sperzel (Westwood/Xaverian).
Providence: Conor Hilton (Needham), Kevin McCordic (Medfield).
Princeton: Ben Churchill (Wellesley), Luke Pascucci (Needham), Jack-Henry Vara (Medfield).
Quinnipiac: Andrew Garfield (Medfield).
Richmond: Matt Davies (Dover).
Virginia: Zach Ambrosino (Dover), Matt Dziama (Wellesley).
After the spring of 2018, that number of 37 Division I men’s lacrosse players is only going to swell further with all of the current commits, who are set to begin their high school seasons:
Dover-Sherborn: Jack Dillon (Sacred Heart), Johnny Goudreault (Navy).
Medfield: Owen Murphy (Johns Hopkins), Dylan McNally (Canisius), Liam Gately (UMass-Lowell), Matt DeSisto (Holy Cross), Thomas Schofield (Bryant).
Needham: Peter Blake (Ivy League Process), Mac Fotiades (Michigan), Jason Child (BU), Will Plansky (Maryland), Peter Murphy (Holy Cross).
Westwood: Brian Antonelli (Brown), Jake Antonucci (Providence), Alex Gainey (Johns Hopkins), Mike Swirbalus (Duke), Cam Martin (Providence).
Wellesley: Max Fields (Cornell), Hayden Cheek (Harvard), Will Frisoli (Ivy League Process), Teddy Darcey (Penn State). Charlie Peck (Lehigh).
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0, or read his blog at www.flannylive.wordpress.com.