Any athletic event between St. Mary’s of Lynn and Bishop Fenwick can be contentious, but Saturday’s boys’ lacrosse battle for first place in the Catholic Central League took on a new meaning.
Neither school has won a league title, and both got off to program-best starts to open the 2019 season, adding fuel to the fire of an already heated rivalry.
No. 20 St. Mary’s (7-1, 5-1 CCL) earned a 12-7 victory at Fenwick (8-1, 4-1) but suffered an 11-8 defeat against defending CCL champion Austin Prep Monday night to create a logjam atop the league standings.
For St. Mary’s coach Josh Field and Fenwick coach Steve Driscoll , both in their fourth seasons, even being in position to compete for a league title at the midway point of the season was an indication of the rapid rise of their programs.
“I have so much respect for Coach Driscoll and his program,” said Field. “Before the game, we were saying, ‘How great is this? Two teams in the CCL, battling it out at the halfway point, both undefeated.’
“There’s a great heritage of athletics at St. Mary’s and the gym is filled with state and league championships, but there’s a missing banner on that wall and we’re shooting for that.”
The private schools draw students from across the North Shore, many of whom played lacrosse at the youth level. Additionally, both coaches have helped their programs grow by integrating athletes who star in other sports, but have yet to play lacrosse.
St. Mary’s features two stalwart defenders new to the game in Jack and Owen Maguire . With ample experience as rugby and hockey players, the brothers from Nahant are making a smooth transition, and have been an integral part of a defense that allowed just 3.7 goals per game leading into Monday’s tilt.
“A lot of guys picked up the stick for the first time freshman or sophomore year, and they’re key players now,” St. Mary’s senior captain Damon Maribito said of Jack, a senior, and Owen, a junior. “A lot of that is because of coach’s willingness to expand the program.”
Senior attack Brendan Laundry (team-leading 21 goals, 16 assists) transferred from Swampscott to St. Mary’s two years ago. And this season, the Spartans welcomed standout sophomore Zach Barden, who bulled his way through the Fenwick defense for three goals and an assist on Saturday.
While the players enjoy their new status as contenders, the coaches are taking a wide-angle look at the growth of their respective programs.
Driscoll, an admissions counselor at Fenwick, and has helped shape several student-athletes into excellent lacrosse players with little prior experience in the sport.
“A lot these kids didn’t think lax was their sport freshman year, but turns out by senior year, they’re going to college for lacrosse,” said Driscoll.
Whether drawing on a pool of students that specialize in other sports, or on the experienced lacrosse players from the 15-plus towns represented on their rosters, Driscoll and Field are getting the most out of their athletes.
“Every year we’re getting kids to come out,” Field said. “We want kids to know that if you work hard, and you’re a team player, you have a home on this field.”
■ Needham senior attack Jason Child became the third player in program history to record 300 career points with an assist during an 18-3 victory over Weymouth Tuesday . . . Reading senior Mike Tobin also topped 300 career points during an 8-7 loss to Concord-Carlisle Saturday . . . Braintree junior Matt Hemmert scored seven of his eight goals in the second half, including his 100th career goal, to lead the Wamps in an 11-9 comeback win over Walpole uesday . . . Westford Academy junior Cam Barisano also scored his 100th career goal in an 11-10 win over Central Catholic Saturday . . . Melrose coach Matt James recorded his 100th career win when his Raiders (5-3) defeated Woburn, 18-3, on Tuesday.
■ Franklin edged BC High, 10-9, in overtime on Friday for the program’s first win over the defending D1 state champion Eagles . . . Mike McCutcheon scored the tying goal with 2.2 seconds remaining and netted the winner in overtime to propel Duxbury past Hingham 8-7, on Thursday night. The Dragons went on to upset Medfield, 12-7, on Saturday and are now primed to win a 19th Patriot League title in 20 years.