Watertown Lacrosse sent out the following story:
If you took a poll as to what sport has the most kids from Watertown High playing in college, it would probably come as no surprise that due to its long time dominance of the Div. 2 Field hockey world and a current unbeaten streak of 160 games, the seven-time defending State Champion WHS field Hockey team would lead the pack. No less than nine Red Raiders are currently on the rosters of elite schools such as Babson, BU, Holy Cross, Northeastern and Stonehill, where one alumnus, Erika Kelly (WHS ‘12), was recently named the 2015 National Player of the Year in D2!
What may come as a bit of a surprise is the sport coming in a close second, with eight current college players. That answer is one of the newest sports in Watertown: Lacrosse. After only 5 years as a varsity sport, The WHS Boys Lacrosse Team will be well represented this spring with no less than eight alums hitting the fields for colleges throughout New England.
We spoke to former WHS three-sport captains Matt Johnson, Danny Loprete and Anthony Busconi, and asked them what makes lacrosse so special, and why they think so many kids have been able to extend their lacrosse playing careers into college?
“Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport because it’s easy to learn and fun to play” said Johnson, a junior at St Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. “Anyone can pick up a stick and learn to play… there is a spot for anybody, regardless of size. It has a little bit of football, basketball and hockey.”
In addition, Johnson told the story of one of the senior captains on his current college team. Remarkably, the long-pole specialist had never picked up a lacrosse stick until his senior year at Catholic Memorial. In fact, he was a highly recruited hockey player who ultimately chose lacrosse.
Loprete, a junior at Merrimack, currently ranked No. 3 in the country and a favorite to be in contention for a national championship this May, cited many similarities between his Watertown teams and the Warriors.
“My college team and WHS teams are a lot alike. We have each other’s back, and we have a blast competing together. When I was in seventh grade Watertown didn’t even have a youth lacrosse program. I didn’t pick up lacrosse until I was in 8th grade and now just 7 years later we have a chance to win a National Championship … Lacrosse has opened so many doors for me. There are so many opportunities for kids to play lacrosse in college if they just work at it.”
When Busconi signed his National Letter of Intent to join his former WHS teammate Johnson and play lacrosse at St. Anselm, a lot of people wondered why he chose lacrosse over hockey.
“I didn’t want to have to go play junior hockey for a year or 2 and be a 21 year old freshmen hockey player,” said Busconi, who as a Red Raider senior net minder backboned the WHS boy’s ice hockey team to a state championship in 2015, and was a selected a 2-time Herald Dream Team player. He went on to say that “lacrosse provided me an opportunity to go to a great college right out of high school and compete for playing time. The sport has the most opportunities for players by far. We had a very competitive high school team. We were one goal short of winning the league title. Every player on that team could play college lacrosse at the right school. The opportunities to play at the next level in this sport are available for any player of any ability.”
Jim Helie, the President of Watertown Boys Youth Lacrosse says “the pipe line of WHS players playing in college will be continuing.” Current WHS senior Jason Hughes recently signed his National Letter of Intent to play at Assumption College. Hughes’ classmate Danny McCurley will be heading off to Norwich where he will bring his play making ability to the Cadets squad. Fellow seniors Derek Dipiete and Christian D’Amico have yet to decide where they will bring their vast lacrosse talents, but there is a long list of colleges who would love to land them. The sport of lacrosse is still exploding at the youth level.
Although the Mid-Atlantic area is known as the nation’s hotbed, the Massachusetts chapter of youth lacrosse actually has more numbers than their southern neighbors. Kids love the speed and fast pace of the game as well as the fact that most of their parents know nothing about the sport, which allows the kid to be the expert and not the parent.
The Great Herb Brooks once said, “Great Moments are born from great opportunities.” For Watertown boys, the numbers don’t lie. If you want the opportunity to play a sport in college, grab your lacrosse stick and find a wall for some wall ball.