LIAM MAHER and the Red Raider lacrosse team open at home against Marblehead on Monday afternoon. (file photo)


Melrose eyeing more than usual suspects in 2022



MELROSE—The league champion Melrose Red Raider boy’s lacrosse team returns this Monday afternoon for their home opener against Marblehead, this after another successful season in 2021 in which they earned a Middlesex Freedom League title after a 10-0 regular season. It was a abbreviated season that extended into near-July as they battled in the ML Tourney and MIAA Div. 2 tournament. This year, Melrose is ready to turn the page on the last two (COVID-affected) seasons and focus on the future.

Success sometimes comes easy to Melrose—last year they earned their 5th Middlesex League title and second straight championship, but victory is never a given. With an expectation of a playoff run, Melrose will be looking at a different landscape. Like the fall and winter sport teams, Melrose’s post season run will be state-wide, not sectional wide. The Red Raiders would compete in an entire power-ranked Div. 2 field that could see them playing opponents from as far as western Massachusetts or Cape Cod in round one. That’s a concept that longtime Melrose head coach Matt James is perfectly fine with.

“I actually look forward to that potential,” says James. “Each season, we sort of face the same teams and beat each other up. It will be nice to experience something different. Other parts of this state approach the game in different ways and we’re excited if we can experience that.”

Leading the team as captains this year are seniors Liam Maher and Shea Fogarty. Both are seasoned vets who helped Melrose reach their success the last few seasons. Maher is a Div. 1 U-Mass Amherst commit who had over 25 goals last year to lead in scoring. Fogarty is a strong middie who will help Melrose take things to another level this year. Also look out for senior Brady Pitcher who emerged as a force last season. “Brady’s become so fast and smooth and had a great season last year,” notes his coach.

Other seniors who will see time are Max Kirby, Pat Lucien and TJ Sullivan, all on defense. Also look for senior Brian Healey in the middle. Juniors Steven Fogarty and Dan Dussault will bring some good experience from last season and will offer up offense and defense, respectively.

New at the net is sophomore goalie Michael Fuccione, who brings a great amount of lacrosse ID to the game. Says his coach, “Michael is so committed to the game and to doing well at the net for us. He sees the game so well and remains collected in there.”

New players such as Noah Fay and Max Kleinbub have great potential in the program, notes the coach. And there are plenty of new faces on the squad ready to make their mark on the program.

And though any post season run will be on a different landscape, the Middlesex League remains as tightly-contested as ever. Last year Melrose fell to Wakefield in the ML tourney and Reading in the Div. 2 North Semifinals. Coach James expects those teams to be just as strong. “They just rebuild and rebuild. Wakefield is always a close and unpredictable game. I expect nothing less.”

Fans can check out this talented team when they open at home on Monday at 4:15 p.m. against Marblehead.

Says their coach, “The kids are excited. They are thrilled to be outside. We’re ready to go.”