Pictured during his junior year of high school against Medfield, Endicott LSM Matt Cawley will finally get the chance to return to the lacrosse field this spring as the Westwood native gets set to begin his freshman season in college. Photos by Mike Flanagan.
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
From early on in his high school lacrosse career, it was clear that Westwood's Matt Cawley had huge potential. Earning the job of starting long-stick midfielder as a freshman, Cawley developed into one of the most versatile and most consistent LSMs in the state heading into his senior season last spring.
After losing to Concord-Carlisle in the Division II Central/East finals in 2018, followed by a defeat in the second round to Medfield in 2019, Cawley and the Wolverines saw 2020 as their final shot to put away some demons and win the Division II state championship. Unfortunately, Westwood never got the chance, as the entire 2020 MIAA lacrosse season was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Fortunately, unlike most senior lacrosse players around the country in 2020, the season's cancellation did not mark the end of Cawley's lacrosse playing career. Despite the lost season, Cawley's hard work on the field throughout the previous three years was enough to earn him a scholarship to play at Endicott. With his high school days behind him, Cawley says he looks forward to returning to the field this spring with his teammates, as the Gulls get set to open up the 2021 season at Trinity on March 23.
"The boys are doing well," said Cawley when asked how he and his teammates are adjusting to college life during COVID. "Obviously, there are a lot of restrictions and guidelines that need to be followed. But the guys have put playing as the number one priority, so everyone has done a very good job at keeping themselves safe, along with everyone else, because we know that the season could be stripped from us at any point."
Asked what having a senior season like the one he had - or didn't have - taught him, Cawley says he and his freshman counterparts all understand what is at stake, and that they need to use not having a senior high school season as motivation.
"I think that the incoming freshman class understands what it’s like to lose a season, similarly to everyone else who was on the team here last year," said Cawley. "Working extremely hard since the beginning of the fall and keeping everyone accountable with following the protocols and guidelines is the reason we are having a season. Everyone had lost their previous season, so we are all working to the best of our abilities to make sure that won’t happen again."
Part of being a freshman in college is making new friends. As fate would have it, two of Cawley's closest friends he's made at Endicott so far are teammates and former Medfield High stars Derek Gemski and Michael Hauptman.
"[Derek] Gemski and Haup [Michael Hauptman] love to talk about their Medfield days," said Cawley. "If Haup doesn’t chirp me about netting three on me his senior year, I know he woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Whenever Gemski gives me a hard time, I point at Charlie Ward from Winchester and tell Gemski to check out his ring (in reference to Winchester defeating Medfield in the 2019 DII state finals)."
Friendly banter and trash talking aside, Cawley and his new Medfield buddies seem to be making the most of a crazy and strange time. Some wins on the lacrosse field in the coming months would certainly make a weird time seem more normal.
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.