Pictured during his sophomore season in 2019, UMass Lowell committed face-off specialist and midfielder Ben Quinn will serve as one of three Walpole High School varsity boys lacrosse co-captains. Photos by Mike Flanagan.
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
The last time Walpole High School boys varsity lacrosse took the field was on June 6, 2019 - a 19-5 defeat to top-seeded Medfield in the quarterfinals of the Division II Central/East playoffs. Now 22 months later, the Walpole boys get set to return to the field after an entire season lost due to COVID.
Leading Walpole in 2021 will be three senior co-captains: UMass-Lowell-committed face-off man and midfielder Ben Quinn, Oberlin-committed midfielder Cole Tashjian and close D Pat Cooney.
"There's a lot that is different about this year," said Quinn when asked about his team's general mindset heading into the new year. "That said, our expectations and goals remain the same. The boys are going to be hungry to get our first game in, since we haven’t touched the field as a team in two years. This season we want to make it the best we can for the kids who love the game and the seniors whose last memory will be a shortened season. A main goal for us is making a strong run in the playoffs."
Along with some of the newly faced hardships of playing a varsity sport during a pandemic, Quinn talked about the difficulties he and his teammates have had in terms of getting together for team bonding and preparing their bodies for the season. Many of the boys on Walpole's varsity lacrosse team are also members of the football team. A sport normally played during the fall months, the guys who play both football and lacrosse have had to focus on playing football during a time of year when they normally would be getting their bodies into lacrosse shape.
"It’s definitely been a challenge trying to get back into the swing of things going into the season," said Quinn. "There are a lot of unknowns with the types of talent the underclassmen have, because we haven't played together yet and the returning varsity players haven't played together since 2019. Right now, the team looks solid. We just need to dial in the defense, and find more depth at all positions, which is where the underclassmen will really come in handy. Although we’ve been restricted on how much we can practice, we’ve had more players show that they’re prepared for the season than in the past. Our captains practices were filling up to the restricted amount, which meant we couldn’t practice with everyone in the boarded ForeKicks field. Another challenge this year is the short time between the football season and lacrosse season. The other two captains, our senior goalie and some other players are also on the football team, which took up their time after school. Football also practiced on the turf at the high school every day, so we were left to shoot around at the new 1A fields."
Spring athletes will be the first group allowed to play a state tournament since the pandemic began last March. Asked about how he and his teammates' feel about on the chance to play for a spot in the postseason and a state championship, Quinn says the Walpole boys could not be more excited.
"Playing for a championship will definitely add motivation for all the boys," said Quinn. "After playing hockey earlier this year, there wasn’t the same kind of drive and excitement at the end of the year like there was in the years before. Going through a senior season that doesn’t end in a tournament makes the games feel like they don’t matter as much, but with a full-blown state tournament, the boys will be working to play all the extra lacrosse we can this year. For some of the seniors, this is the last lacrosse they’ll get to play. Our goal is to make a memory out of this messed up season. We want to get after it and remember our playoff run."
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.