“Close But No Cigar” describes the way the Pinkerton Academy boys’ lacrosse team’s 2013 and 2014 seasons ended, but it’s not what coach Brian O’Reilly or his Astros want to hear.
And O’Reilly – who has compiled a 470-132 record in 32 years as the PA boys’ lax program’s head man – and his charges would love to break the Bishop Guertin Cardinals’ death-grip on the Division I championship at the end of the present 2015 campaign.
The Cardinals of Nashua have won the last five D-I titles and beaten the PA Astros in three of those five championship matches, including those played each of the last two springs.
Pinkerton’s last state championship came in 2006, when the Astros handed BG a 13-7 defeat in the title battle. But the academy laxmen have since lost four state title contests to the Cards.
Just getting back to the D-I championship game so often is an accomplishment, but it’s not enough for the determined Astros.
Returning from the 2014 runner-up team are senior stalwarts Todd Billetter (an attack), Ryan Burke (defense), and Jack Hanaway (midfielder), juniors James Tulley (attack), Cam Richard (defense), and Brett Dattilo (middie), and sophomore Brandon Tetler (middie).
Other returning lettermen include senior Sam Ward (middie) and juniors Mason Barchard (attack) and Sean Donohue (middie).
Other players in Pinkerton red and white who will bear watching include seniors Nick Richard (goalie), Patrick Thompson (middie), and Steve Tewksbury (middie); juniors Nick Sturgess (defense), John Durant (middie), Carter Young (middie), Matt Wolenski (goalie), and Evan Boisse (defense); sophomores Nick Coombs (midfield), Drew Strople (midfield), Ryan Albrecht (defense), Kyle Fortier (defense), Sam Goudreault (defense), Adam Morin (middie), Connor Kennedy (midfield), Connor Delea (midfield), Liam Rooney (attack), and Colin Philippon (attack), and freshmen Tom Sweeney (midfield), Chris Valentine (attack), Alex Sturgess (goalie), Matt Newman (middie), Cam Leborgne (goalie), and Josh McCormick (attack).
Billetter – who led the 2014 PA team in points with 52 on 39 goals and 13 assists – and Nick Richard have been named the team’s captains. Tulley (32-14-46) and Dattilo (25-12-37) were last spring’s second and third-ranked scorers, and Dattilo, Cam Richard, Todd Billetter, James Tulley, and Ryan Burke all garnered all-state honors following that campaign.
When asked what the keys to success will be for his 2015 crew, O’Reilly said, “Defense, goaltending, face-offs, and attack will carry the team. We need to build depth in the midfield.”
The academy guys started their new season on Monday, April 13, with a road match at Nashua High School South. And the Astros overpowered the host South Purple Panthers in a 15-6 victory.
O’Reilly’s local crew led 7-1 after one period and 13-2 at the half, and there was no looking back.
Dattilo, Billetter, and Hanaway each netted three goals, Tulley was good for two goals and an assist, and Barchard, Burke, Josh McCormick, and Tewksbury were each good for one score.
The academy laxmen had all four goalies play, with Nick Richard making six stops, Wolenski claiming three, Sturgess tallying three, and Leborgne making two stops.