TEWKSBURY – Coming off a winless season the year before and under the direction of a first-year head coach, it was hard to predict what kind of success the Tewksbury High Boys Lacrosse team would have this season.
It would be safe to say that the Redmen exceeded the expectations of most outside observers as they have earned a 6-11 record to this point under the direction of newly appointed Zach Jacobs. The Redmen stayed in contention for a state tournament berth until the final week of the season, and most recently wrapped up their campaign with their biggest win of the season, a 9-8 overtime thriller over arch rival Wilmington on Tuesday afternoon.
The Redmen and the Wildcats certainly put on a show for the rain soaked fans on Senior Day at Tewksbury High, with several lead changes going back and forth before junior attack Pat Rosemond fired home the game winner early in overtime.
Jason Cooke had tied the game for the Redmen in the fourth quarter, bringing them back from an 8-6 deficit with a pair of goals, including the equalizer with 1:38 left in the game.
“At that point, when we tied it up, I told the team that I wanted to win it in regulation and I really thought we were going to, because we had played so well in the fourth quarter,” Jacobs said. “We weren’t able to get it in regulation, but Pat scored a great goal to win it in overtime.”
In the overtime period, Jacobs called a timeout just after the Redmen had brought the ball over midfield in order to get the right personnel on the field, but when Wilmington played a little bit of a different defense than Jacobs and his fellow coaches were expecting, they were forced to improvise.
“Pat flashed up off the crease and he took the pass lefty and made a great shot for the goal,” Jacobs said. “He has been one of our better shooters lately and he did a great job there. It was a great relief when he scored.”
Other goal scorers on the day for the Redmen included senior Derek Schumaker with four and Kyle Scrooc with two.
The star of the game, however, for the Redmen may have been junior goalie Ryan Day, who was once again spectacular in net, making several great saves to keep the Wildcats at bay.
“Ryan played great. He makes the difficult saves look easy, and he does it so well that me and my assistant coaches will say to each other that we are lucky that he is so good,” Jacobs said. “My assistants and I have played high school and college lacrosse and seen some great goalies and Ryan is right up there with them, and he is only a junior.”
While Day is only a junior, the Redmen said goodbye to four seniors as part of the Senior Day ceremony prior to Tuesday’s game. as the Redmen honored Stephen Duquette, Derek Schumaker, Dylan Scott and Josh Sughrue for their commitment to the Tewksbury lacrosse program.
Jacobs, a former Tewksbury High star himself, considers himself lucky to have coached these four players in his first year as head coach.
“As I told the seniors, the reason why they were voted as captains by their peers is because of what they have brought to this program,” Jacobs said. “They have made it so much easier for the coaches this year.
“After what these guys went through last year with a winless season to come back and do what they did this year was incredible. They had a never give up attitude all season long. I could not have had four better seniors in my first year as head coach.”
But while the four seniors will be sorely missed, Jacobs is also very much looking forward to next season when he will bring back a strong core of players, starting with Day in net, Connor Charron as a midfielder and faceoff specialist, along with several other key players including Jason Cooke, Kyle Darrigo, Kyle Scrooc, Patrick Rosemond and many others.
“I think we will have a good season next year, and I think the program is heading in the right direction.” Jacobs said.
The future certainly appears to be bright for the Tewksbury High Girls Lacrosse team, with a solid core of young players who should help the Redmen continue to improve over the next several seasons. But as good as the future looks for the program, the present is looking pretty good as well for the Redmen.
A 1-1 record this past week leaves the Redmen with a 5-13 record overall, with one game remaining on their schedule., a vast improvement over last season's 1-17 record.
The Redmen began their week with a 14-9 loss to MVC rival Dracut in a road game last Tuesday. Tewksbury was led on offense by sophomore midfielder Lexi Polimeno who had three goals on the day, while fellow sophomore midfielder Erin McIntyre and senior midfielder Haley Mignon had two goals apiece.
Freshman attack Maeve Cahill and freshman midfielder Kati Polimeno rounded out the scoring for the Redmen with a goal each, while freshman goalie Michelle Kusmaul made six saves.
"I know the girls and I were hoping for a better outcome of this game," Tewksbury coach Erin Murphy said. "Dracut is an aggressive team and came out as so. Dracut's goalie had a solid game and was able to stop many of our shots on goal."
If Tuesday was a frustrating loss, then Wednesday was the exact opposite as the Redmen came away with an exciting 11-9 win over non league rival Wakefield in another road contest.
Lexi Polimeno once again led the offensive attack with four goals, while Mignon and fellow senior Lauren McIntyre had two goals each. Cahill, Erin McIntyre and Kati Polimeno added one goal apiece to round out the Redmen scoring, while Kusmaul was outstanding in net, making 11 saves to get the win.
"This was a strong game for us. We played Wakefield before and had won by three so we knew they would make us battle for another victory," Murphy said. " We had been on a six game losing streak and I know the girls wanted to see it end. We were able to stay ahead of Wakefield or the majority of the game with the exception of tie at 7-7.
Murphy was pleased with the way her young team was able to not only play a strong physical game, but also showed mental toughness despite their inexperience.
"This was a good game for us in terms of using time to our advantage. Often we are goal hungry and that does not always go in our best interest," Murphy said. "I was glad the girls were able to strategically control the game and not allow many avoidable turnovers. We have a lot of young players on the team and it's good to see them continue to develop their game awareness."
The Redmen will wrap up their season on Wednesday with another road game, this time at Burlington. Results of the game were not available as of the Town Crier's press time.
"Burlington has had solid seasons in the past," Murphy said. "I want the girls to go out and give it their all and hopefully secure a win."