No two boys’ lacrosse programs are more firmly woven into the very fabric of their sport here in New Hampshire than the ones from Pinkerton Academy and Bishop Guertin High School of Nashua.
The road to a Division I championship which veteran coach Brian O’Reilly’s Astros haven’t won since back in 2006 runs through Nashua and Guertin, as the BG Cardinals have won the D-I crown each of the last four years and in five of the last six seasons. The Cards have been in each and every D-I title game since 2005 and beaten Pinkerton three times in winning six crowns during those nine seasons.
The Astros defeated BG in the 2006 championship match, but since then the BG bunch has knocked off Pinkerton in title contests in 2008, 2011, and again last spring.
So it certainly isn’t much of a stretch to expect that PA leader O’Reilly’s crew which O’Reilly has led for the last 32 years and compiled a stunning career record of 433-128 will have those BG Cardinals standing firmly in their way again as Pinkerton aims to return to the very top of the D-I mountain.
The 2014 academy crew returns a big bunch of important players including two who were lost to serious knee injuries during the 2013 campaign, and one who played well as a freshman before heading off to the Holderness School for several years, where he starred in the sport.
The two stalwarts who were lost to knee troubles last spring were All-American senior midfielder Jake Lisauskas who scored 33 goals and assisted on 44 others for 77 big points and tough-as-nails senior defender Matt Madden. The Astros also welcome back 2013 all-staters Brett Connal (senior defender), Sean Delea (senior middie), Brett Dattilo (sophomore middie), and Cam Richard (sophomore defender).
The other returning starters include seniors Evan Sweeney (attack) and Austin Maylor (middie), juniors Todd Billetter (attack), Ryan Burke (defense), and Jack Hanaway (middie), and sophomore James Tulley (middie).
Senior attack Bailey Walsh has also come back to PA after two highly-productive lax seasons at The Holderness School.
Senior goalie Cam Hayward and senior midfielder Garrett Faino are also returning letter-winners for the academy squad.
Coach O’Reilly pointed out freshman middie Brandon Tettler as a newcomer to watch, but the Astros have a bunch of promising newbies including juniors Patrick Thompson (middie), Cam Peredna (middie), Nick Richard (goalie), Sam Ward (midfield), Steve Tewksbury (middie), and Jason Paris (middie); sophomores Mason Barchard (attack), Peter Sweeney (attack), Sean Donohue (midfield), John Durant (midfield), Bradd Ross (midfield), and Matt Webber (middie); and freshmen Nick Coombs (middie), Drew Strople (middie), Ryan Albrecht (defense), Kyle Fortier (defense), Sam Goudreault (defense), Adam Morin (middie), Connor Kennedy (midfield), Connor Delea (middie), and Liam Rooney (attack).
“Our expectations are to compete for a championship,” said O’Reilly. “This team has a high lacrosse IQ and solid skills. Defense, goaltending, face-offs, and attack will carry the team.”
The Pinkerton crew got its campaign officially under way with a home match against the Concord High Crimson Tide this past Monday, April 14. And coach O’Reilly’s guys had no trouble with stomping the visiting Tide by a 19-4 tally.
The hosts scored seven unanswered goals in the first quarter and grasped a commanding, 11-1 advantage at halftime.
Evan Sweeney put forth a six-point performance with four goals and two assists, Billetter contributed four goals, and Austin Maylor was good for four points on three goals and one helper.
Bailey Walsh, Brett Dattilo, and Drew Strople each netted two goals, and Nick Coombs and Bradd Ross each scored twice. Jake Lisauskas contributed three assists, and Mason Barchard dished out one.
Pinkerton goalies Nick Richard (three saves) and Cam Hayward (two) combined for five saves in the Astros’ overwhelming win over their guest.