By Mac Cerullo
---- — NEWBURYPORT — The Newburyport boys lacrosse team was all set to open its season Saturday against Danvers when word came down at the last minute that the game would have to be postponed due to unplayable field conditions.
“We were all set to get on the bus, but the DPW wouldn’t let them get on the field,” said head coach Ed Gaudiano.
Instead, Newburyport will open its season tomorrow afternoon when the team heads to Manchester Essex for a 3:45 p.m. matchup. After that, the team will have a full week to practice and hopefully get out onto the field before heading to Masconomet next Tuesday.
Now entering his 12th season as head coach of the Newburyport varsity lacrosse team, Gaudiano and coaches Todd Francis and Matt Hubbard believe this year’s team has enough talent and experience to get back to the tournament and hopefully make a run at the state championship, though he acknowledged that a rough start could be a possibility given that the team hasn’t gotten much time to practice outside.
“I think we’re at the point where we always shoot for the tournament,” Gaudiano said. “There’s a good combination of returning veterans and some newer guys coming up, and eventually that’s going to gel. The preseason has been a little slow because of the weather.”
Last season, Newburyport went 12-3 on the year to qualify for the postseason, but their championship drive fell short as the Clippers lost 8-7 to Archbishop Williams in the second round of the state tournament.
This year, Nearly its entire attacking line from last year returns, as well as the core of its defense. The defense will be anchored by the team’s two senior captains: Drew Bourdeau, a four-year starter on defense, and Dillon Guthro, who has been the team’s goalie for the past three seasons.
Returning on attack are Matt Kelleher, Mike Shay and Nick Federico, whom Gaudiano expects to score most of the team’s goals. If there is one area of weakness on the Clippers roster, Gaudiano said it would likely be its inexperienced midfield line. Senior Jared Healey will be back in the fold at midfield, along with J.J. Bajko, but other than that it’s mostly fresh faces.
As far as the team’s newcomers are concerned, Gaudiano said he isn’t quite sure what to expect yet. He wouldn’t pick out any one player as a potential breakout star, saying that he’s taking a wait-and-see approach until the team has had time to actually get out on the field and play as a unit.
“We’ll have to wait and see,” Gaudiano said. “We’ve got plenty of guys to look at. We’ll probably have to wait a couple of games to see who can do what.”