By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — The boys’ lacrosse team returned to the field last week and is gearing up to qualify for the state tournament after a three-year absence.
The Pioneers concluded the 2014 season with an overall record of 7-10 and missed the state tournament for the third straight year. Pioneer head coach Joe Papagni said the locals are determined to qualify for the tournament this spring.
“This year’s seniors have not had the opportunity to participate in the MIAA tournament through their careers and they have set personal and team goals to return to the tournament this season,” said Papagni. “Our captains are unselfish, quality young men who have a great desire to lead this team back to tournament play. Our schedule is extremely competitive and we will have to compete at our very best each game to achieve our goals.”
The Pioneers will be led by four senior captains this season, attacker Chad Martin, midfielder Jake Forgione, defenseman Mike Look and attacker Dan Sullivan. Sullivan and defenseman Ricky Johnson will both miss the season due to injuries.
Forgione said the Pioneers have high hopes for this spring.
“We’re really looking forward to this season,” said Forgione. “We have a lot of talent and experience, so making the tournament is a must this year. We’ve had some setbacks losing Dan and Ricky but I think we will still have a good shot and are headed in the right direction.”
Martin agreed with Forgione’s sentiment but he stressed the Pioneers need to work hard to qualify for the tournament.
“We had a great start with our win against Revere,” said Martin. “We are limited with our numbers, so a lot of guys will have to play the whole game. We also need some of the younger kids to step up and help us out this year so we can reach our goal of making the tournament. There’s a lot of returning talent this year, so I’m confident that if we keep working hard we will have a great season.”
Papagni said the Pioneers will be looking to the locals’ seniors and the leadership they provide in order to be successful. The team will be counting on Martin, Forgione and Jon Knee to give the team an offensive spark.
“We need to look for a team distribution of goals with Sully out,” said Papagni.
The Pioneers are also looking for Mike Look, who played midfield, defense and goalie last season, to provide an offensive spark. Papagni said Alex Soden and Brendan Rothwell are “two outstanding defensive middies” who will be counted on to help generate an offensive attack.
Lynnfield has three goalies this spring — senior Dylan Shaffer, junior Jack Ganter and sophomore Kingsley Corona, all of whom Papagni said have “looked good in our drills and scrimmages.” The Pioneers’ defense will be given a boost by senior Victor Buonfiglio, junior Trevor Caswell, junior Max Robert and sophomore Jimmy Whalen.
Lynnfield has five promising additions this season, junior midfielder Patrick Garrity, junior Matt Miller and freshmen Ryan Fraser, Ryan Freitas and Peter Look.
Papagni said the Pioneers’ veteran core will serve as the locals’ biggest strength this season.
“Our strengths are senior experience and leadership,” said Papagni. “We have quality young men who believe in working hard toward achieving their goals. My assistant Pat Lamusta, an ex-player of mine, and I believe in them and look forward to watching them compete.”
While Papagni has high hopes for the 2015 season, he said the locals need to focus on getting better each and every day.
“Due to our lack of depth early in the season, we will be looking to find varsity level players that can give us a few minutes here and there to round out our team,” said Papagni. “We are counting on developing players that can help soon.”
The Pioneers defeated Revere 12-4 on April 3.
Knee led the Pioneers with four goals and an assist. Martin tallied a hat-trick and an assist. Garrity had two goals and three assists. Forgione had one goal and three assists. Mike Look finished with a goal and an assist. Soden had two assists.
The Pioneers received strong defensive efforts from Buonfiglio, Caswell, Robert and Mike Look as well as Corona, Ganter and Shaffer.
“The entire team, JV and varsity, were able to participate in the game and it was a good start to the season,” said Papagni.
The Pioneers faced Arlington on Monday, April 6, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Lynnfield travels to Bishop Fenwick on Wednesday, April 8, beginning at 7 p.m. The locals host Manchester-Essex on Friday, April 10, beginning at 3:45 p.m. Lynnfield hosts Ipswich on Tuesday, April 14, beginning at 3:45 p.m.