Stafford Leader

Defense Should be Hallmark of Southern Regional Lacrosse

Spring Sports Preview
Apr 13, 2018

The Southerrn Regional boys varsity lacrosse team is off to a good start; it sported a 3-0 record as of last weekend. Last season, head coach John Pampalone’s squad went 14-4, and made it as far as the Group IV state championship semifinals.

Key returnees include senior Anthony Firmani, the face-off specialist who had a success rate of 70 percent; junior attackman Nick Fontana, who had 45 goals and 47 assists; junior attackman Aniello Russo, who had 10 goals and 20 assists; and senior defenseman Luke Gerhardt, a four-year starter.

“We’ve always had two big guns coming back – some years three or four – and those were the guys we ran our offense through,” said Pampalone. “This year, we returned only one big goal-scorer (Fontana). We knew we’d be solid on defense right out of the gate, but we would have trouble offensively as they try to develop a scoring rhythm. We have other guys who returned, but they were contributors. They weren’t the go-to guys, and now we’re going to need some of them to become go-to guys, if anything to take some pressure off Nick.”

Other returnees include senior midfielders Ryan Comfort and Ryan McWhorter, senior defenseman Denis Osborn, junior midfielder Brandon Durst, sophomore attackman/midfielder Cade Johnson, sophomore defenseman Noah Wacaca and sophomore defenseman/midfielder Will Devane.

The Rams will also be buttressed by various newcomers: senior defenseman/midfielder John Harmon, senior midfielder Patrick Cleeland, junior midfielders Vinny Deck, Ajani Stevenson and Rich Dale, junior defenseman Ian Maul, junior attackman ’Nick Stankus,  junior goalies Luke Maul and Robert Gunnell, sophomore midfielder Ben LoParo and freshman midfielder J.T. Hille.

Pampalone said the Rams have traditionally had a solid defense.

“No matter who graduates, (assistant coach) Mike Jinks always puts a great unit on the field,” he said. “We will continue to rely on our defense, and hopefully the offense will get its legs going.”

Concerning goaltending, the Rams will have to replace Tristan Farina, whom Pampalone said “was a brick wall back there and won us a lot of games.”

“But these new guys (Maul and Gunnell) are going to be good,” said Pampalone. “During the preseason, we went back and forth a bit on who was going to be our No. 1 and who was going to be our No. 2, and we truly had a goaltending competition. But regardless of who we put out there on a day-to-day basis, I expect both to play really well the entire season.”

— Eric Englund

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