BYFIELD — It may be a little too late to help get them into the state tournament this season, but the Wilmington High Boys Lacrosse team is finally starting to be rewarded for all of the efforts and improvements they have made this season.
The Wildcats won two straight games this past week, defeating both Stoneham and Triton in a pair of road games to improve their record to 4-9 on the season.
Even more impressive is the dominant fashion in which the Wildcats won the two games, downing Stoneham by a score of 21-10 on Saturday and Triton by a score of 20-13 on Monday.
In the win over Triton on Monday, the Wildcats were powered by a monster second half which turned a slim 8-7 halftime lead into a 20-13 blowout while playing in hot and humid weather.
“At halftime the boys just realized that we could play at a higher level than them (Triton) and that we could use our numbers to our advantage with the heat because we definitely outnumbered them,” Wilmington coach Zach McDannell said. “The kids just stepped up right off the bat. Chris Robarge won three straight faceoffs which led to three quick goals and we just never looked back from there.”
The Wildcats offense was led by senior attack and captain Ben Wright who had eight goals on the day, while fellow senior attack and captain Andrew Sullivan, junior attack Zach Kincaid and freshman midfielder Gavin Erickson, had three goals each.
Junior midfielder Taylor Padulsky added a pair of goals while senior midfielder Connor Benoit also had a goal.
For McDannell and the Wildcats, it was great to be on the positive side of a comfortable win in both Monday’s game as well as Saturday’s after having been on the opposite side several times earlier in the season when they were trying to improve and gain experience.
“It’s great for the boys. They are not getting blown out anymore. They are playing competitive games,” McDannell said. “And certainly it is nice to get wins like this, because it allows us to get a lot of kids into the game, and the kids are all playing as one unit.”
One of the more impressive players as of late for the Wildcats has been Erickson. The freshman midfielder has exceeded all expectations this season, and had another big week with his three goals against Triton, and one in the previous game against Stoneham.
“I had coached Gavin in youth lacrosse and I felt like he was a kid who could contribute, but he has been better than I ever expected,” McDannell said. “He makes some rookie mistakes, but he is such a coachable kid that we are very confident when he has the ball. We are very fortunate to have a young player with that kind of skill.”
Against Stoneham on Saturday, it was a pair of juniors who powered the offense, with Robarge leading the team with six goals from his midfielder position, while fellow junior midfielder Ryan Martin had three goals and junior Zach Kincaid had two goals.
The Wildcats also got one goal each from Erickson, senior attack Nolan Fitzgerald and freshman midfielder Alfonso Gambale.
Ben Wright also kept his hot streak alive with three more goals. The expectations for Wright were high headed into the season, and he has certainly not disappointed.
“He is always the player that after the game the opposing coach will come over and comment on what a good player he is,” McDannell said. “He is a very strong player and he knows the game very well. His lacrosse IQ is not something you see every day. He is not the loudest captain, but he is the definition of a role model. He is one of those kids that on or off the field you can count on to do the right thing.”
One player the Wildcats were missing this week was senior goalie Ryan Murphy, but sophomores Johnny Rhind and Brian Dinfey performed admirably in his absence, with Rhind making ten saves to pick up the win over Triton, while the pair combined for ten saves in the win over Stoneham.
The Wildcats will look to keep their positive momentum going on Friday when they travel to Cawley Stadium to take on Lowell High School, before wrapping up their season with against arch rival Tewksbury next Tuesday in another road game.