Trio of MHS brothers committed to UMass, Ithaca
Published December 11, 2020
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE—One of Melrose High’s most successful varsity programs has produced many college lacrosse players, but one particular family’s college prospects have runneth over. Brothers Brendan, Ryan and Liam Maher of Melrose have made incredible marks on the sport at Melrose High and have done what few have: all three have been recruited for college lacrosse at prestigious universities and programs, including Div. 1 UMass Amherst.
Two of the Maher brothers, Brendan and Liam, have signed with the Minutemen, while senior Ryan, a three-sport athlete, will attend acclaimed Ithaca University and play lacrosse for its Bombers team.
It’s remarkable to find such collegiate talent on one high school team, never mind in one family. Clearly, the sport has enjoyed a starring role in the household of Melrose’s Steven and Maureen Maher, parents of the athletes. This collegiate journey started when their eldest son, Brendan (MHS Class of 2020) drew the eyes of Div. 1 UMass Amherst and was recruited during his junior year. It was not only the right team for the defensemen, he was also drawn to their esteemed business school. “Brendan had a lights-out sophomore year,” said Melrose coach Matt James at the time. “He’s a shutdown defender with outstanding skills. It was clear from the beginning he was an upper Div. 1 player.”
Now finishing his first freshman semester at UMass, Brendan is glad that his younger brother Liam will be joining him in two seasons. “I’m excited for another chance to play together.” He’s equally excited for his brother Ryan, who will soon be off to Ithaca. “It’s awesome. He’s worked so hard in the offseason and definitely deserves it.” Brendan, 19, is currently working out with the Minutemen for fall ball. “Fall ball at UMass was a great experience despite the COVID regulations,” he says. While his 2020 season at Melrose High ended in disappointment (there wasn’t a season) he still hasn’t missed a beat as an athlete. “COVID played a big role in our day-to-day lives, but everyone came together and we made the most of it.”
Second born Ryan Maher, 17, is a three-sport athlete with an excellent basketball pedigree. The senior captain of the MHS hoop team initially considered playing college basketball but developed a love of lacrosse when he started on the varsity team as a freshman. Since then, he had an explosive start as a defender, according to coach James. “He’s been a great captain and player. I’m so glad he’s going to an excellent school like Ithaca,” he says.
Ryan spoke of what drew him towards the school and program. “I started the recruiting process very late, but the head coach at Ithaca along with other coaches were understanding with COVID and still offered me a tour after watching my film. I could easily see myself going to school there after one look around town and the campus. The education was exactly what I was looking for.”
Finally, we have Liam Maher, a sixteen-year-old junior at Melrose High who just committed to play Div. 1 lacrosse at UMass Amherst where he will join his brother Brendan. With two seasons still to go, this is a player who can do a lot of damage in the Div. 2 North division as a midfield attacker. Also a football player, Liam’s best lacrosse moment may have been as a freshman against rival Wakefield. Coach James points to a game-winning goal by Liam in which he was fed assists by both brothers. “Liam played ridiculous in that game,” says James. “Overall, he plays this game nonstop. He’s always shooting, even back when he was in middle school, that’s all you’d see him do.”
Liam began lacrosse in first grade and started club lacrosse for 3D New England in 7th grade. His recruiting process was a little different, thanks to COVID. “I wasn’t able to meet or talk with the coaches face to face,” Liam says. “After watching Brendan’s process I already knew a lot about UMass and knew it would be a good fit for me.”
Back in spring of 2019, this trio together helped Melrose High earn their second-winningest season to date. Clearly, it was never a dull moment on and off the lacrosse field for the Maher family. “It was definitely a cool experience,” says Ryan. “We were always talking about lacrosse when we were outside of practice.”
Their parents, Steven and Maureen, credit the Melrose Youth Lacrosse program for their sons’ achievements. “Our boys are the lucky benefactors of incredibly dedicated MYLL volunteers who sparked their love of lacrosse in elementary school,” they told The Melrose Weekly. “We’re lucky that the program bridges into high school seamlessly and that our varsity coaches are as invested in our youth players and fostering their love of lacrosse. It shows with the success that the boys’ and girls’ teams achieve.”
And while each of the Maher boys are unique, they all have one thing in common.
“These boys are alphas,” says coach James. “They’re assertive and dominant on the field and super competitive. They’re always in the thick of it. But even better, they celebrate other people’s success like it’s their own. They’re the first ones out there jumping when another player comes up big. There is true happiness in their games.”
The best is yet to come for these brothers. And for two of them, there is a sense of unfinished business at Melrose High School. Both Liam and Ryan would like the Red Raiders to pick up where they left off in 2019 and vie for a division title this spring. Says Liam, “With the talent we have this season, our goal is to win the league and make it to the state championship.”
Echoes Ryan, “Our goal is to get to the championship. I think we have a real shot to make it all the way this year with a lot of talent returning from the 2019 season.” And a bonus. There’s another Maher: their younger brother Sean, an entering freshman at Melrose High next fall. And yes, he plays lacrosse. Buckle up. For the Maher family, and for Melrose, this is a story to be continued.