One would be hard-pressed to find two lacrosse teams in more different situations than the respective boys squads of Gloucester and Manchester Essex.
On one hand, there’s Gloucester, an experienced squad with a coach in his fifteenth season looking to tweak an experienced lineup, improve on last season’s 6-10 campaign and make a push to the state tournament.
On the other hand, there’s Manchester Essex. The Hornets are coming off a dismal 3-15 season, but with first-year coach John McCavanagh’s arrival after three seasons coaching Boston College with his brother and an influx of young talent to a team with plenty of returning contributors, Manchester Essex appears poised for a rebound.
The two teams may have very different stories. The goal, however, seems to be the same.
“Make the tournament,” Gloucester coach Drew Dominick said bluntly. “Without a doubt.”
To do that, each team’s going to have to put some things together fairly quickly.
For Gloucester, the biggest question mark is between the pipes, where senior captain Joe Taormina will fill a void, switching from defense. It was a team-first move by Taormina, to be sure, but his lack of experience coupled with the fact that the weather and lack of field space in Gloucester only gave the Fishermen a handful of opportunities to get onto the field could make the transition more difficult.
“To be completely honest, we’ve only been on grass for like five practices, so it’s going to be tough to figure out until we really play in a game,” Dominick said. “We’ve had so much stuff cancelled because of the weather. Three scrimmages cancelled. It’s just been a nightmare.”
The good news, though, is that Taormina got one scrimmage under his belt and will have talent helping him protect the cage. With co-captain Mike Falzarano and senior Jesse Glidden anchoring Gloucester’s backline, the lack of field time may end up being a non-factor when the team opens its season at Salem today (4:00). Throw in burly senior Devin Hemeon, a football standout and baseball-player-turned-defender, and it’s going to be no bargain for opponents to try to get through to Taormina.