A tough start, then a big win this week for New Milford boys lacrosse
Updated 12:00 am, Friday, April 14, 2017
NEW MILFORD — The New Milford boys lacrosse team has experience and a new home — and hopes of recapturing past success.
Led by second-year head coach Evan Cassells, the Green Wave are coming off a 4-12 season but graduated only five seniors. Compared to 2015, when New Milford went 13-3, Cassells has more experience to work with this time around.
“The season before last year (2015), New Milford graduated 18 seniors, leaving us with a very young, inexperienced team,” Cassells said. “We grew tremendously last season, even though the record didn’t show it. It was also my first year as a head coach, so I grew with the team as well.”
“Sean has brought a great deal of knowledge and experience to our team this year,” Cassells said.
This year’s roster has more experience as well, led by the senior attack line of Evan Federowicz, Will Gully and Chris Alhage. The Green Wave’s starting middies are seniors Liam Kenny, Luke Alexander and junior Nate Capriglione.
“Being so young last year, we gained experience by being thrown right into it,” Cassells said. “Now most of our starters from last year are at the same positions, with a year of experience under their belts. “I would also say one of our strengths is our senior class. They’ve worked hard for this season, and have led by example.”
Last year the Green Wave were road warriors, playing all 16 of their games away while turf fields were being installed at home. It made the season all the more challenging, considering how many seniors had graduated from the previous team, but it is also paying off in 2017.
“Another strength of the team is the experience of us playing 16 road games last year,” Cassells said. “It doesn’t faze us going on the road anymore; we’ve already been there.”
Cassells said the team’s goals are to win the SWC championship, compete for a state title and bring back the great tradition of New Milford lacrosse.
“It’s been 10 years since our last conference championship,” the coach said. “We intend to change that.”
New Milford was 1-3 through its first four games, beating Pomperaug on opening day on the new turf field, and then going through one of the toughest weeks of the schedule, playing Joel Barlow, last year’s conference champion, perennial SWC powerhouse Newtown and Notre Dame-West Haven, the top team in class M.
But the Green Wave improved to 2-3 on the season with a thrilling victory over Brookfield on Tuesday.
Down by four with five minutes to go, New Milford tied the game with just seven seconds left and eventually pulling out a 12-11 victory.
“We went through the wringer, but learned a lot about ourselves and are ready for whatever any team has to throw at us,” Cassells said. “Knowing what our team is capable of, I believe we will get hot and contend for an SWC championship and turn some heads in the process.
“Our motto is Strive to Thrive: we strive to compete vigorously and we thrive to develop vigorously. We’ve changed the culture and intend on becoming successful in the process.”
New Milford was scheduled to Danbury on Thursday and then host the Across the Sound Tournament Saturday with a game against William Floyd of Long Island.
“The tournament has never been played in New Milford, so it’s a very exciting time for us involved with the program,” Cassells said.