ESPN Boston boys’ lacrosse All-State First Team goaltender Connor Darcey was up against the best underclassmen the country has to offer in the ESPN RISE Warrior 40. The Wellesley High netminder made the start for the winning “Orange” side during the weekend competition at Harvard Stadium and took a few minutes to catch up with us.
The rising senior was had an All-American season as a junior, leading the Raiders to a 16-0 regular season and was honored as the Bay State League’s MVP.
We caught up with the Penn State commit to learn about life at the Warrior 40, his impressive showing in its hardest shot competition and how he plans to unwind this summer.
Q: What has the entire Warrior 40 experience been like?
A: “It’s great being around high level lacrosse the whole time. I mean, the coaches have a high standard for everyone, coming from where they are as professionals. Also, they’ve experienced everything we have. They know what paths to lead us down. I like it a lot.”
Q: How’s it been playing with some of the top players from across the country?
A: “It’s good because we’re going to be seeing these guys in the next four years when we’re in college playing against each other. I think it’s fun to play at a high level. It’s very competitive, even if it is just a camp, scrimmage thing.”
Q: You took part in the hardest shot competition on skills day and hit 92 miles per hour. Were you at all surprised with your result?
A: “I was pretty happy that I hit 92 on my second try. I was pretty happy with that. I was talking to [Foxborough goaltender Greg Stamatov] and he hit 84. That’s what my goal was going in, to beat him. We had a little competition between us, so I was happy with that.”
Q: Hate to bring up a sore spot, but having your high school season end against Medfield again in the D2 tournament had to be tough. What can you learn from that experience as a team heading into next year?
A: “I think we built a stronger team coming away from that season. We were 16-0 [in the regular season], once we got to that point, everybody starting contributing, whether it was in practice or in games. Then, the playoffs came. We played well in our first playoff game [a 17 win-3 over Burlington]. I think we have a lot of camaraderie on the team, I think we just fell apart in that last game in the fourth quarter. It was a tough loss.”
Q: You also had a Wellesley teammate Oliver Saffrey here with you at the Warrior 40. How was it being able to share the experience with a high school teammate?
A: “Yeah, it was fun. I think it’s a great thing for the program, to show that we can play. I think coach [Rocky] Batty has done a lot with the program. He’s gotten our alumni back, which a lot of them have been successful, and our alumni game shows the quality of play. He just does a great job coaching us. He finds a way to coach every player, he knows how to coach different people.”
Q: You’ve already got your college commitment locked in, but what went into the process of choosing Penn State?
A: “It was a roller coaster from the start. During summer lacrosse, then as soon as September 1st hit, all the schools started talking to me. It was a huge spectrum. Then, as the fall progressed, making visits to schools and talking to different coaches, seeing what they wanted, et cetera, it narrowed down after that. I really liked [Johns Hopkins head coach Dave Pietramala], he was a great guy. I liked a bunch of other coaches. But [Penn State head coach Jeff] Tambroni, I loved him as soon as I got there and I loved the campus. It was just a good fit for me.”
Q: What are you trying to work on in your personal game during the summer?
A: “I’m trying to make my hands quicker and my talk and my movement around the cage, working around from X. I think just knowing my defensive partners to start next season is very big help. I have a good relationship with them, so that will be a big help.”
Q: When you do have some time off this summer, what will you be doing to relax?
A: “I work up in Michigan as a camp counselor. My family has a house on Lake Michigan and we’ll heading up there after this. It’s on the western side, right on the Lake. It’s a small little community, about 200 little cottages. It’s a lot of fun.”