SUDBURY, Mass. – A 16-3 win by Lincoln-Sudbury boys’ lacrosse over North Andover in the final of Saturday’s Coaches Challenge Cup can only tell you so much about this Warriors team.
The enduring image – outside of the game’s score as the scoreboard hit triple zeroes – came about a half hour following the win. On a nearby practice field, a group of Warriors players were helping to the clear the field for Monday’s practice. Youth soccer games left a set of nets on the field. As part of a challenge issued during Friday’s team practice by head coach Brian Vona, the losers of a drill were going to be forced to perform odd jobs on Saturday, including the clean up of the practice field and clearing the 8-yard by 8-foot frames. The nets dwarfed the team members scurrying underneath them, like a colony of ants moving leaves on the forest floor.
“I feel like we’re building,” Vona said following the team’s Cup win, the progam’s second. “We’re not where we’re going to be in June, not even close. We have a long way to go. We’re slowly improving on some things that, maybe things that you might not see, but we’re improving on things that we had to work on.
“So I feel good, knowing that we’re progressing.”
That progress was set in motion two years ago when the Warriors’ seniors were sophomores. Many of them were pressed into immediate service that season, before they might have otherwise. due to a rash of (at times, freakish) injuries. One player was cut severely on a plate glass window at his church and missed time in 2011.
That chain of events gave a deep and talented class a running start while growing into one of the state’s Division 1 title favorites this season.
“I think a huge part of that is the confidence knowing that we’ve played together … almost all of our starters have played together since sophomore year,” said Henry Guild, a Yale commit who led the Warriors with a hat trick and six points on Saturday. “We’ve played in big games and we have confidence in knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”
Vona maintains there’s room for improvement, even with the Warriors’ offense, which operates with the efficiency of a Swiss watch.
But with a slew of high Division 1 recruits on offense, including Dan Delaney, Matt Hall, Chris Giorgio, among others, there’s not much that can slow down L-S.
“When we possess the ball on offense,” Vona said, “we control our destiny.”
The Warriors have also taken care of business in their own end. There’s plenty of talent to be found among L-S’s poles, including Sam Chen, Eamon Hunter and John Sexton. And they’ve been able to keep it out of their own cage.
“The key thing is that we’re talking,” Hunter said. “You hear it on the bench, you hear it on the field. You hear it from Dario [Morando]. When we’re talking, we play more aggressively. We’ve motivated to grab the ball, turn it over to the offense and get them started.”