Mallards having fun, working hard
(March 24, 2017) Worcester Prep boys’ lacrosse Coach Kevin Gates has instituted some new things this year to make the game more enjoyable for both the players and coaching staff.
“I want them to play hard and have fun,” he said. “We may make some mistakes, but I want them to get better and have fun doing it.
“I don’t want winning to be the end-all be-all,” he continued. “If they enjoy the process, winning will take care of itself.”
Gates, now in his 15th season as head coach, said the Mallards are doing well so far and have shown improvement over the few weeks of practice.
The Prep squad kicked off the 2017 season with a 17-2 victory over the Delmarva Christian Royals on Wednesday in Berlin.
Junior captain Sam Cantello (attack) led the team with four goals and an assist. Senior midfielder Patrick Petrera and junior Tucker Brown (attack/midfield), both team captains, scored two goals apiece.
“The [Delmarva Christian] team wasn’t the best, but we still have to come out everyday and perform. Just getting that first win was important,” Petrera said.
The trio received Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference First Team honors for their performance during the 2016 season.
Cantello finished second in points last year (89) and led the team in assists (36). He scored 53 goals. Petrera was third in points (49), with 30 goals and 19 assists.
They helped lead the team to its seventh consecutive ESIAC championship title. Worcester also competed in the Metro Independent Lacrosse League last year. The Mallards lost in the semifinal round, 12-4, to Calverton.
Cantello also earned First Team All-MILL accolades. Brown and Petrera were presented honorable mention distinction.
Petrera, a three-year varsity player, said as a captain he will “definitely lead by example.”
And in “transition, just getting the ball, helping on defense and offense and trying to score, too,” he added.
The Berlin squad finished 2016 with a 13-4 record.
Players returning who also received All-ESIAC First Team honors for their performance during the 2016 season are defensemen, seniors Max Bisaha, a team captain, and Spencer Copeland, and sophomore long stick midfielder, Cooper Richins. Sophomore Cole Berry (defense/long stick) was named to the Second Team.
In addition, Bisaha earned All-MILL Second Team honors. This is his fourth year on the team and he will be counted on to run the Worcester defense again.
“I’ve been playing all four years in the same spot so I can lead with seniority first of all and by example of the way I play,” he said. “I’m excited for the season. Everyone’s been working pretty hard in practice.”
Trent Marshall (attack) and midfielder Reid Carey, both seniors, are back to compete for Worcester as well.
Of the 23 players on Gates’ roster, 13 are varsity veterans.
“We should be pretty good. We have a strong starting group,” he said. “The big key will be how fast the reserves can pick things up.”
Worcester does have three big holes to fill, Gates said, as the team graduated its leading scorer and two-time Player of the Year, Wyatt Richins, face-off specialist Ross Dickerson, and goalie Wade Walter.
“That’s three tough holes to fill,” Gates said. “Someone will replace Wyatt as the leading scorer. [Senior] goalie Rayne Parker has been waiting in the wings and earned his chance this year.
“The last few years we’ve had one face-off guy,” he continued. “This year we have a few guys that are doing well.”
The Mallards are playing a more up-tempo style this year and Gates said they are “pushing the envelope a little bit.”
Gates will rely on several newcomers to contribute this year.
Senior Owen Nally (midfield/face-off) and junior Brendan Miller (midfield) have played lacrosse for Worcester in years past. Last spring, they were successful doubles partners for the Berlin school’s tennis team.
Senior Luke Buas (midfield/attack) also returns to lacrosse.
Several Mallards were on the JV team last year, but also played in a few varsity games, including senior Seth Lewis (short stick defensive midfield), juniors Porter Bunting (defense) and Jack Fager (goalie) and sophomores Dakin Moore (attack) and Thomas Fager (attack).
Additional varsity newcomers include senior Flynn Mullins (short stick defensive midfield), sophomore midfielders Jay Gosnear and Owen Tunis and freshman Max Taylor (long stick midfield).
“We’re coming along great. I’m excited how things are shaping up,” Gates said. “We’re going in the right direction.”
The Mallards hope to win another ESIAC title and Bisaha said he would like to advance to the MILL championship game this season.
“We have some big games this year that we definitely want to win before playoffs come,” Petrera added. “We have a bunch of out-of-conference games that will show how we stack up against other teams in the region.”