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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
The 2018 season was a wacky one for Medfield High lacrosse. After losing five games by just a single goal, including a heartbreaking and somewhat controversial overtime defeat to top-seeded Wayland in the Central/East quarterfinals, redemption is certainly on the minds of the Warriors heading into this spring.
Leading the Warriors in 2019 will be four senior co-captains in goalie Peter Barrette, attack-man and 2018 leading scorer Michael Hauptman, midfielder Tommy Gill, and close D Pat Thompson. Head coach John Isaf gave high praise to his core of captains and says they all demonstrate exceptional leadership.
“I think they bring a team-first, servant leadership style,” said Isaf. “They are positive and encouraging with their teammates and set a good example by their hard work and commitment to the team. They've done a great job in the off-season organizing workouts, scrimmages and tourney play. They've also committed themselves to becoming better leaders through our leadership training program.”
Along with their four captains, Medfield returns an exceptional amount of depth at seemingly every position. Pumping out Division I caliber defensive poles and is nothing new to Isaf’s program, but the group assembled in 2019 might be one of Medfield’s most talented defensive groups in recent memory. Anchored by Thompson, junior All-American and Lehigh-committed close D John Schofield, junior LSM Sam Joline, sophomore LSM James Wilder, senior close D Mike McNeil, and junior close D Jack Gemski, this defensive pole corps means business. All the while, Barrette shall serve as an anchor between the pipes.
“We feel like we have some good experience, depth, versatility, and athleticism on defense,” said Isaf. We hope to leverage that to play better team defense, especially off-ball, through trust and communication. We want to approach the ball more soundly to better apply friction and dictate to the offense, handle the ball better and make better decisions in the clearing game, and get the ball off the ground and cause more turnovers to generate more transition opportunities.”
To add to Isaf’s point about getting the ball off the ground and causing more turnovers, John Schofield enters the 2019 season with 97 career caused turnovers. The junior is on-pace to shatter the Medfield school record for career CTO’s, held by Matt Dold (2017) with 145.
Isaf also pointed out two notable returns to Medfield’s defensive midfield who he believes will serve as solid replacements for 2018 senior captain Tom Schofield, Medfield’s top defensive midfielder who now plays at Bryant.
“Sophomore Michael Vachon and Eric Ledogar return at D-mid,” said Isaf. “We think they will be difference makers in the middle of the field.”
Offensively, Medfield returns all four of their top scorers from last season (Hauptman, junior attack-men Jack McCordic, Jimmy Cosolito, and Jake Sherman) and seven of their top eight scorers overall. Medfield’s midfield also boasts returning starters Brian Abely and Stephen O’Leary, joined by captain Tommy Gill. Juniors Mikey Tyer and Justin Cook will also supply key depth at the midfield, while junior and Holy Cross commit Connor DePiero takes over as Medfield’s face-off man with Dylan McNally graduated and now playing at Canisius.
“I imagine when people think of the MedLax brand of offense over the years, we're known for playing fast, attacking favorable matchups and quick ball movement to generate high-percentage shots,” said Isaf. “We've been at our best when we share the ball and make the extra pass. We were a little young and inexperienced last year on offense. With more veteran leadership and experience this year we hope it translates into better recognition/situational awareness, decision-making, shot selection, trust in each other, and ultimately, poise.”
The Warriors will open up the 2019 campaign on the road against TVL newcomer Norwood. Medfield will play their home opener against rival Westwood on April 9.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0.