Pictured during last season's playoff contest vs. Medfield, senior captain and close D Marc Hirshom (19) figured to serve as an anchor for Walpole's defensive unit in 2020. Photo by Mike Flanagan.
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Despite a bit of an up and down regular season in 2019, Walpole High School varsity boys lacrosse still found a way into the MIAA state tournament.
In 2020, the Rebels looked to improve upon their 7-11 record and make a run at another bid to the state tournament. Led by a large senior class that included Plymouth State-bound close D Marc Hirshom, close D Ryan McGlynn, attack-man Tom Fruci, attack-man Connor Glebus, close D Liam Fisher and goalie John Shea, there was reason for optimism. Also back to lead the Rebs in 2020 were three junior captains: face-off specialist/midfielder Ben Quinn, midfielder Cole Tashjian and close D Ethan McDonough.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 forced the entire spring athletic season into cancellation, meaning the final high school lacrosse game that the class of 2020 at Walpole will ever have played is last year's 19-5 opening round defeat to Medfield in the Division II Central/East sectional.
"I was really optimistic coming into 2020," said head coach Jason Andalo about his group. "Looking at the team we had last year, we had 14 sophomores and freshmen on varsity before April vacation, and we pretty much played all of them. We certainly do not normally keep a lot of upperclass on our bench, and we were really young last year. We had all those guys coming back with now a year or two of varsity experience, as well as all of our juniors and seniors. I was optimistic because a lot of the guys were having really good fall and winter seasons. Cole Tashjian is very much committed to being the best person he can be. He was all-conference in football, a great weight room guy, a member of the National Honor's Society, just a really bright and well-rounded kid. Connor Glebus also had an outstanding football season, and almost a dozen of the lacrosse guys were on that state championship hockey team. I thought on paper, we were bringing back a really good and athletic group of guys with good character. We just never got on the field and I feel really bad for these seniors."
"Teaching for 21 years and coaching for 20 in Norwood and Walpole, the spring sort of has a rhythm to it in terms of how the seniors go about things. One of the nice things about our lacrosse program, because we've been able to have some success, is that our seniors get to do something really unique by graduating and then our season is still going, so the only connection to Walpole they still have for a week or two is being an athlete. That's always been kind of a neat thing, and it's unfortunate these guys were not even given that opportunity. I thought in terms of this group of seniors, each guy was going to contribute for us this spring. John Shea was going to have an opportunity to be our starting goalie for the first time. He put in a lot of work with the freshman and JV teams and was ready to take that next step with varsity. Connor Glebus missed almost all of his sophomore year with a back injury and was going to do some big things for us this year as a senior. There are still so many unknowns. I've gotten in touch with the seniors over the last few weeks. Great things are ahead for each one of them, it's just unfortunate they will not get the chance to finish out playing sports at the high school."
Senior Connor Glebus agreed with Coach Andalo's assessment, saying he and his teammates were optimistic in the talent they were bringing back in 2020.
"This year, the team had a lot of questions to answer. Who were the guys that were going to step and produce on offense? Graduating [Conor] Foley last year, who accounted for a majority of our goals, was a tough loss and we knew we weren’t bringing back a guy with that much talent on the offensive side," said Glebus. "But, I think the team was all in agreement that not just one person would have to produce. It would have to come pretty evenly, and from a lot of the younger guys, too. I think we would’ve had a really strong defense this year with Hirsh [Marc Hirshom] and [Ryan] Mcglynn returning after both started as juniors. We also would’ve been expecting a lot from sophomores such as David Pacella and Declan Hunter at midfield, and Colin Birch taking face-offs. I think the boys would’ve come together more and more throughout the season and hopefully would’ve made a run in the playoffs."
Asked to reflect on his favorite memories as a varsity lacrosse player for Walpole, Glebus says he will always cherish being able to play and learn from talented upperclassmen such as Darragh Fahey, Cam Scales and Conor Foley during his sophomore year in 2018.
"I will always remember the 2018 varsity team," said Glebus. "It was my first year on the team and we were very solid that year. Although I hardly played that year, it was a good feeling being part of that team and learning from guys at attack like Darragh Fahey and Cam Scales, who were seniors and the league MVP that year, [and] junior Conor Foley. We went out in a tough, one-score game at Westwood that year, but it motivated all of us moving forward."
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as game highlights, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram @flano0.