2016 Berkshire County high school boys lacrosse preview

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BERKSHIRE LEAGUE

Hoosac Valley

Coach: John Alibozek (second year)

Last year: 5-9

Key returnees: Cam Alibozek, junior; Austin Mendel, junior; Tyler Jayko, junior; Brenden Ellsworth, junior.

Outlook: After playing a 14-game schedule last year, Hoosac Valley bumps up to 16 games this year. With a team featuring just one senior, the Hurricanes have room to grow over the course of the campaign.

Hoosac is built around its junior class. Cam Alibozek returns between the pipes for his second season as a starting goalie, and classmate Austin Mendel will lead the long poles in front of him.

In attack, juniors Tyler Jayko and Brenden Ellsworth bring back some experience for the Hurricanes and can help shoulder the load with scoring.

Sophomore Adam Bush will be another close defender for the Hurricanes. In the midfield, Hoosac is a bit thin on experience, but coach John Alibozek pointed to players such as Nick Waterman and Matt Hall to step up and play the minutes the team needs. One young player to watch out for could be Vance Eugene, who has picked up the sport relatively quickly.

Monument Mountain

Coach: Rob Leary (fourth year)

Last year: 7-10

Key returnees: Jonah Swotes, senior; Ted Michaels, junior; Connor Parkinson, junior; Peter Romeo, sophomore.

Outlook: The Monument Mountain program lost a lot of starters through graduation and transfers, but the rebuilding process will be aided by the addition of seven players from the Lee program after the two sides merged for a co-op in 2016.

The Spartans do get a boost at the back, where Jonah Swotes returns to command the cage. The senior has been a stellar goaltender in both hockey and lacrosse, and his final season should be no different.

In front of him, Ted Michaels returns for his junior campaign to lead the long poles. One of the co-op players, Lee's Peter Romeo, will also start in front of Swotes to protect the cage.

The Parkinson brothers from Lenox will provide offensive punch, whether from the midfield or in attack. Connor was named captain in his first year at Monument and will play in the midfield, and brother Jake will slot in on the attack.

The Spartans also welcome back Joey Labrasca in attack. The senior is the lone returning starter in that third of the field.

The midfield will be an area of concern from Monument coach Rob Leary, but Connor Parkinson will help stabilize the unit. Freshmen Homer Winston and Walter Boyko will get a shot at a starting spot, and seniors Jon Rosales and Forest Holander will see time on the field, as well.

Mount Greylock

Coach: Brandon Asplundh (third year)

Last year: 19-3, lost in Central/Western Mass. D-III championship

Key returnees: Cal Filson, senior; Kyle Bazonski, junior; Pat Storie, junior; Sean McCormack, junior.

Outlook: The Mount Greylock boys lacrosse team will look slightly different with Michael McCormack no longer on the roster, but the Mounties are ready to mount a collective team effort to make up for the point production lost with McCormack's graduation.

Or, perhaps, the Mounties are ready to make sure no one does to them what McCormack did to others. Senior Cal Filson is back in the cage for Mount Greylock, looking to solidify his spot as the best goaltender in the Berkshires. Kyle Bazonski returns as a starting defensemen for the Mounties, and Zach Ronnow will see time in defense and in midfield.

Pat Storie also returns. A midfielder last year, Storie might be shuffled around the lineup some as coach Brandon Asplundh looks for his best lineups.

Sean McCormack is also back, as is Riley Parker. The Mounties also get a pair of players back from prep school, with defensemen John Pfister and Whit Ellingwood returning for their junior years.

Thomas Astle will be another returner for the Mounties, and freshmen Mike Wellspeak and Taylor Cummings will fight for minutes, as well.

Pittsfield

Coach: Scott Aitken (seventh year)

Last year: 10-8, lost in Central/Western Mass. D-II first round

Key returnees: Mason Papirio, senior; Parker Blessing, senior; Cam Giardina, senior; Nikolai Pixley, senior.

Outlook: The Pittsfield boys are a senior-heavy bunch this season, with 15 seniors listed on the roster by coach Scott Aitken. Naturally, expectations are high in the Generals camp that the team can make a run into the playoffs.

The bulk of the senior class comes in the midfield and in attack. The senior trio of Cam Giardina, Sean Baruch and Mason Papirio will hold down the starting line, opening up play for the players around them.

Junior Kevin Quinto will lead the attack after playing in midfield last season. Josh Kozlowski, Logan Higuera and Cam Velastro will all get chances in attack.

On defense, goalie Nikolai Pixley returns. In front of him, Jake Marin and Shane Cronin return and provide Pixley with some continuity.

Taconic

Coach: Bill O'Brien-Garvey (fifth year)

Last year: 1-16

Key returnees: Matt Johnston, senior; Kevyn Harris, senior; Tim Curry, junior; Troy Schweitzer, sophomore.

Outlook: After a year of growing pains, the Taconic boys will look to make a big step forward in 2016. Buoyed by a deep sophomore class, the Braves return 15 lettermen from last season's team.

Seniors Matt Johnston (defense), Kevyn Harris (midfield) and Brad Cobb (midfield) bring veteran leadership to the team. Johnston will anchor the defense in front of Troy Schweitzer, who will start in goal for his second straight season.

Along with Johnston, senior Richard Garwood and sophomore Luke Maynard will make up the defensive unit.

Sal Amaral and Justin Thompson will see significant minutes along the midfield unit, and Cody Latimer will also get time in the midfield three.

In attack, juniors Tim Curry and Ez Stone return.

The Braves are scheduled to play their home games at Berkshire Community College this spring as the new Taconic High School construction project gets underway. Currently, heavy machine equipment occupies the field that the Braves had called home. The Braves also have a handful of St. Joseph players this season, after the Crusaders program folded.

Wahconah

Coach: Zach Sondrini (third year)

Last year: 9-8, lost in Central/Western Mass. D-III first round

Key returnees: James Ross, senior; Dalton Peck, senior; Connor Washburn, junior; Vinny Orlandi, junior.

Outlook: The Wahconah boys have one of the youngest squads in the county this season, leaving coach Zach Sondrini with a few questions heading into the season. After graduating 11 seniors, the younger Warriors will have to step up in a hurry if Wahconah wants to make it back into the playoffs.

Seniors James Ross and Dalton Peck will help to anchor the defense in front of goalie Vinny Orlandi, who is back between the pipes for his third season at Wahconah.

The midfield is far from solidified, as Isaac Voltoline and Brent Sinopoli will get chances to secure starting spots.

In attack, the Warriors have to fill the hole left by their leading scorer graduating, although Connor Washburn is back after being the second-leading scorer, and sophomore Jeremy Gerard will be one year older.

Some new guys to watch this year include Matt Cedar (defense) and Mike Fortin (midfield).

INDEPENDENT

McCann Tech

Coach: Paul Lange (first year)

Last year: N/A

Key returnees: N/A

Outlook: It's hard to look at the past for McCann Tech, because the Hornets are a brand-new squad this season. With McCann announcing its team late, the Hornets did not find a league this season and instead will play an independent schedule against Berkshire County and Pioneer Valley teams.

Coach Paul Lange returns to the sidelines after starting up the Wahconah program. While Lange will have all the headaches associated with starting a team, he does have some players that played in the former St. Joseph co-op team.

In goal, Jake Tower will handle the shot-stopping duties. In front of him will be senior Nick Lincoln, one of four seniors on the inaugural squad.

Another senior, Nico Romano, will start in attack but could move all over the field as McCann settles into a lineup. Seniors Mike Moreno and Cory Hartley will play in the midfield.

Another Moreno, junior Nico, will also see time in attack.


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