By Jim Sullivan
---- — Alex Buckley and Nick Mombello are about to embark upon their final sports season together after serving as teammates on the ice or field since they were 5 years old.
“Our chemistry is pretty good, I would say,” said Mombello, who, like Buckey, is a senior long-pole defenseman in lacrosse. “Just knowing that he has my back is a good thing to have.”
The Newburyport lacrosse team will open its season Wednesday at Ipswich. Buckley and Mombello are expected to serve as two of the three starting defensemen.
The two friends have gone to school together since the Bresnahan Elementary. They both started playing hockey at the age of 5 and really came into their own as co-captains in hockey this past season when Mombello, a center, was named a CAL All-Star, and Buckley, a goalie, was named CAL MVP as well as the Newburyport MVP.
“Goalie, conditioning wise, is based on wasting as much energy as possible in a short amount of time, and then building stamina up in a short amount of time,” said Buckley. “And because we have both sides of the ball (in lacrosse), it (translates well) into being successful playing defense.”
As a goalie, Buckley always knew he could count on Mombello.
“There is a trust there,” Buckley said. “He was the penalty-kill specialist, and you really can’t do anything well (as a goalie) unless you have good penalty-killers in front of you. That bond is a big thing.”
Clippers coach Ed Gaudiano enjoys watching the bond at work.
“I like the fact that they’ve been playing together for so long that they know each other’s styles,” said Gaudiano. “They know what to expect from each other. They are comfortable with each other. It helps in the team aspect of the defensive end.”
Mombello started his Clipper lacrosse career as a short-stick offensive player, then moved to defense to help the team. Having been stopped by good defensemen in the past, Mombello likes ruining opposing players’ days.
“Stopping the other people is kind of enjoyable,” Mombello said.
Buckley, for his part, says he just loves making offensive players miserable.
“Having somebody being upset because you stopped them,” said Buckley. “Or having somebody mad at you because they didn’t get the ball, or you got the ball away from them, or you hit them too hard, it’s just fun.”
With the season about to begin, the fact that both Clippers say they are going to try to enjoy it as much as they can should could spell bad news for opposing forwards.
“Obviously, it is a heartbreaker to leave the school and have our last season,” said Buckley. “But it’s a lot of fun. You get to know all of the people that you’ve been with, you get to make new friendships with new guys coming up. You also have a responsibility to be better than you were last season, and it’s always fun being a senior to give it your all. So you just lay it out and go hard, every single day.”
“Just having this as our last Clipper varsity season together, I think we want to make the best of it that we can,” said Mombello. “Moving the program along (is important). We have a lot of new kids, and we want to make sure everyone does as well as they can to keep the program going.”
Keeping the program in good shape will be a little more difficult for the Clippers this year after their star offensive midfielder, Sam Francis, was been sidelined with an ACL tear in the Thanksgiving football game against Amesbury last fall. But that is where Gaudiano sees an opportunity for his defense to shine.
“Over the past couple of years, we’ve really been carried offensively,” Gaudiano said. “We’ve been able to score a bunch of goals. We’re kind of looking at (the defense) now to maybe pull the wagon a little bit before some of our younger offensive players get used to playing varsity and get going.”