Looks to return to playoffs in 2015
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE—Whether Mother Nature agrees or not, it’s time for spring sports in Melrose and one of the most anticipated returns is that of the MHS boys’ Red Raider team, who is coming off their best season ever in 2014, when they powered their way to a 16-4 record and its first ever Middlesex Freedom League Championship.
Melrose went two rounds in tournament last year, losing a heartbreaking double- overtime loss to Marblehead, 6-5, but in the meantime, made Melrose the team to beat in the Middlesex Freedom League. That could be the same case this year for coach Matt James’ Raiders.
Judging by how it looks out the window, finding practice time outside is a challenge but not impossible. Boston broke the record for snow this year but 110.3 inches of white stuff was not going to deter Melrose schools for preparing the fields for spring play. The turf field at Fred Green Memorial Field was cleared of snow weeks ago, allowing the lacrosse teams to practice in outdoor elements, even if it is in arctic conditions. “We’ve been outside every day since Monday,” said Melrose head coach Matt James said in a phone interview. “Scrimmages will be a challenge but we’re making the best of it.”
According to the coach, Melrose is benefitting from even more depth this year than in years past. This season, Melrose returns a good portion of their team, including some of their top scorers and their senior captains Zack Mercer, Mike Doucette and Tom Calvert. The three were huge factors last season when Melrose compiled their best record to date. “We have tons of depth this year,” says James. “Much of our defense returns and our sophomores who stood out last year are one year older and experienced.”
That includes sophomores Ryan McDermott and Jack Seibert, both of whom had big roles on offense during last year’s thrilling playoff ride. McDermott came up enormous in Melrose’s quarterfinal game against Marblehead before their overtime loss, so expect to see McDermott and Seibert assume much of the scoring for the Red Raiders. Other attackmen to look out for will be Corbin White and Zac Phipps who both made a dent against opponents in 2014.
One area of improvement James noted is in the midfield where Tom Calvert, their longstick middie, will have a good amount of backup from longstick defenders, which might ease of the hole left by graduating Joe Taglieri. “I’m happy with the overall depth of our midfield lines,” confirms James.
Zack Mercer will be a force on the field. The senior captain won roughly 90% of his draws in playoffs last year and can be expected to continue to rip into the competition. On defense, rivals will have to get past a powerful Mike Doucette.
New at the net is junior goalie Connor Locke, who replaces All American goalie Alex Surrette.
“What I like about them is that they are team-orientated, we have a balanced offense that I think will serve us well this spring.”
Melrose begins their home opener on April 2 at Fred Green Field.
2015 Season Schedule
Sat 3/28 1:00pm vs Weston
Thu 4/02 4:00pm vs Winchester
Wed 4/08 4:45pm @ Belmont
Fri 4/10 4:00pm @ Arlington
Mon 4/13 3:45pm vs Reading Memorial
Wed 4/15 4:00pm vs Stoneham
Fri 4/17 7:00pm vs Wilmington
Thu 4/23 12:30pm vs Wayland
Sat 4/25 11:00am @ Norwood
Wed 4/29 4:00pm vs Lexington
Wed 5/06 4:00pm @ Woburn
Sat 5/09 5:00pm @ Beverly
Mon 5/11 3:45pm vs Burlington
Wed 5/13 4:00pm @ Wakefield
Wed 5/20 4:00pm @ Watertown