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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Despite winning yet another Central/East sectional championship, the 2018 season ended with a bitter taste for the Dover-Sherborn Regional varsity lacrosse team, which fell in the Division III state finals to Cohasset, 10-6.
In 2019, the Raiders return some high-level talent and will look to reign supreme in Division III Central/East, and hopefully, get another shot at Cohasset at BU later on this spring.
Leading the Raiders this season will be a pair of senior co-captains in close D Cam Roycroft and attack-man Timmy Polk. Another senior to watch out for is midfielder/fogo Matt Paolatto, who says this year’s band of Raiders is looking to come together as one before even thinking about the larger goals, such as winning a state championship.
“Our biggest goal this year as a team is to become closer as teammates, both on and off the field,” said Paolatto. “At the beginning of last year, we knew we had lost a lot of senior talent, but as a team, we were very close and trusted each other, and I think that contributed to all of the success we were able to have last year. We know this year that we can achieve great things. We just need to have that same trust in each other. Another goal is to achieve our full potential. This is a very talented squad that I have a lot of faith in, and it’s up to us to become the team we know we can be.”
Year after year, DS is picked as one of, if not the, favorite to win Division III. Paolatto says that he and his teammates are not worried about all the hype surrounding them and that the Raiders are staying focused on the tasks at hand.
“We try not to worry about the hype others have on us; we’ve all been there before and we know what to do to get back [to BU] again this year,” said Paolatto. “We know teams put a target on our backs, but we need to play with the same intensity every time we step foot on the field, regardless of the opponent.”
Despite losing some key offensive talent such as Jack Dillon and Michael Mastrobuono, Paolatto says that he and his teammates are ready to watch a new wave of Raiders take over the reigns of Dover-Sherborn’s offense.
“It’s obviously a big loss when you lose offensive weapons like Mike and Jack,” said Paolatto. “But, this year, there are some players that we think can step up to the task. Timmy Polk is one of the fastest and quickest attack-men in the league and is dangerous to shoot from anywhere. He’s also a great leader to the younger guys.”
With seniors such as Paolatto and Polk leading by example up front, DS will also look to junior Erik Niit and sophomore Pierce Gregory for steady offensive production. Niit, who will be making the transformation from midfield to attack, earned BostonLax All-Underclass Second Team honors last season. Meanwhile, Gregory was named BostonLax All-Underclass First-Team, one of just three freshmen in the entire state to receive such recognition.
“Pierce [Gregory] was amazing last year and we are looking for even more out of him as a sophomore,” said Paolatto. “Erik is an attack-man this year and was a midfielder last year, but he’s able to play either position and is very shifty and can score from just about anywhere. His versatility is going to be big for us.”
Paolatto also had high praise for senior midfielder Henry Kenney and sophomore mid Ford Pegram.
“Henry Kenney and Ford Pegram are some big names to watch out for,” said Paolatto. “Henry is a great dodger and has a great shot on the run. Ford is very talented and we’re all excited to see what he can do this year.”
Defensively, Cam Roycroft will anchor the close D corps. Sophomore Drew Dummer is another long-pole to watch out for, both at close D and at LSM. Sophomore Standish Carothers will look to build upon his exceptional freshman campaign that saw him earn the starting goaltender job.
DS opens its season at home on April 5 against Bellingham.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0.