On Tuesday evening, the North Andover High School Athletic Department announced on social media that Wilmington resident Steve Zella has been named the new varsity boys' lacrosse coach.
Zella, who has also been involved in coaching youth sports here in town, has a long history of playing and coaching lacrosse. He was a Boston Globe and Boston Herald, and Patriot Ledger All-Scholastic goalie while playing for Weymouth High School in the late 1990s. He then went on to become an all-star player at Springfield College, and later on after his coaching career begun, he tried out for the Boston Blazers as a midfielder and then went on to play on a number of other teams, including the Canton MegaMen.
Since 2007, Zella has served as the head coach at Brookline High School. He took over a program that finished with one win in 2006 and increased that total to three, while the Warriors gave up half the amount of goals as they did the previous year under then head coach Rocky Batty.
The following year, he led Brookline to its first win over league rival Newton North since 1976, ranging roughly 64 games. Then in 2011, he led the team to its first playoff appearance in 25 years. The team finished with an 13-5 regular season record, before beating Medford in a preliminary round of the Division 1 North Sectional tournament and then falling to Lexington in the first round.
Brookline then competed in post-season play in 2015, '16 and '17, all out of the Division 1 South bracket. The Warriors finished 12-7, 14-5 and 10-9 respectively, losing in the first round in all three seasons to Franklin, Marshfield and the eventual D1 South Finalist of Duxbury.
Zella takes over one of the top high school lacrosse programs in the state. North Andover is a perennial state contender almost every year, including being the No. 1 seed in the Division 1 North Bracket this past year but were eliminated by neighbor Andover in the first round.
The Scarlet Knights had been coached by Ryan Connolly since 2012 and he had taken over for his father Steve, who spent the previous 13 years as the head coach. The father-and-son duo, along with Ryan's brother Jimmy, were all outstanding players in Billerica and then UMass-Amherst.