NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

April 8, 2014

Pentucket boys lacrosse opens season today at Hamilton-Wenham

By Mac Cerullo
Sports Editor

---- — WEST NEWBURY — Two years ago, the Pentucket boys lacrosse team went winless in coach Dan Leary’s first season. Last year, the team rebounded to win 13 games and reach the state tournament.

“Last year was nice for us because the kids that we had my first year, a lot of them returned and are back this year,” Leary said. “They’ve been the reason. They could have quit but they dug in, got better and it showed last year.”

Those overmatched underclassmen on a winless team have now matured into a formidable, senior-laden squad, and this year Pentucket is looking to improve on last year’s record and get back to the state tournament.

This year’s Sachems team will return its entire attacking line from last year, along with most of its midfield. Connor Beaton, Nick Arcadipane and two-year captain Sam Palumbo are all back on attack, as are midfielders Jeff Porter and Brendan Sullivan, whom Leary said he hopes will help fill the void left by graduated playmaker Calvin Wiles.

“Those are the guys I’m hoping can step up and fill the role of Calvin Wiles, who was really our playmaker last year and scored a lot of goals and assists last year,” he said.

Pentucket has two starters returning on defense, Kyle Richardson and Chad Legault, and Leary also highlighted promising newcomer Andrew Noyes, who moved up to varsity late last season and has been impressive for the Sachems so far in the preseason.

At goalie, things are still up in the air. Seniors Ben Smith and Brett Connolly are both returning, and each saw playing time last year. Leary said the team has no defined starter at this point, and he wants to see who can step up in the early going before settling on either one.

“It’s an ongoing trial right now to see who gives us the best chance to win on a given day,” Leary said.

Ultimately, Leary said his main goal for the season is to improve as the season goes along, and ideally the team will compete for the league championship and get back to the state tournament.

“For us, our biggest goal is to get better every day and hopefully by the end of the season we’re playing our best lacrosse,” Leary said. “I want us to be extremely competitive in our league, and after that we’ll see how it goes.”

The first test for Pentucket will be Hamilton-Wenham, whom the Sachems will face on the road today at 4 p.m. Hamilton-Wenham is already 0-2 on the season following losses to Cohasset (14-3) and Beverly (6-5 in double overtime), and Leary said how his team fares against the Generals will be a good indicator of what they’ll need to work on going forward.

“That’s a program that we can measure ourselves against, so for us it will be a good test to see where we are,” Leary said.

Boys Lacrosse

Pentucket at Hamilton-Wenham, 4 p.m.