Boys lacrosse: New players need to step up

The process of reloading every season is a rite of spring for the Wilton High boys lacrosse team, and 2013 is no different.

The Warriors losses to graduation were significant — the entire starting attack and midfield lines, and three starting defenders.

The only starters back from a year ago are close defender Nick Wells and goalie Connor Johnson, both seniors, along with senior FOGO Ted Ottens, a face-off specialist unequaled in the FCIAC, if not the state.

The talent is there, but the eight new starters will have to prove themselves quickly, as the Warriors have five games in the opening 11 days, including four top opponents in New Canaan, Greenwich, Darien and John Jay-Cross River (N.Y.).

First up is New Canaan, on Wednesday night at 7 at Dunning Field.

“We have a bunch of returners coming back who will move into starting roles. Now it’s their turn to step up,” said head coach John Wiseman. “We feel good about where we are. The team looks good. We’re trying to figure out who we are and how we’ll gel. We’ve got some holes to fill.”

The Warriors graduated attackmen Chris Nugent (All-American), Cole Rance (Second Team All-FCIAC) and Matt Kobyra (Second Team All-FCIAC), which last year was “one of the top attack lines in the state, as a unit,” Wiseman said.

The team also graduated another top scorer in midfielder Sean Carroll (First Team All-State), along with the two other strong midfielders, Connor Devane and Mike Slaughter.

Also gone are long stick middie Graham Parsons (Second Team All-FCIAC) and close defenders Robbie Keers (First Team All-State) and Mike Basile.

All told, the Warriors graduated about three-quarters of its scoring from last year’s team, which finished at 15-6 but lost in the semifinals in both the FCIAC playoffs (to New Canaan) and Class M state playoffs (to Darien).

Last year’s squad also faced a daunting rebuilding year, after losing many key players from the 2011 state champion squad. The Warriors wound up a formidable team, with impressive wins over Yorktown, Fairfield Prep and New Canaan during the regular season. Of their four regular-season losses, two were by one goal (to Penn Charter and Ridgefield) and another by two goals (to Darien).

While the attack line is all new, there is varsity experience with seniors Ryder Farmakis (seven goals) and Alex Pagliaro (nine goals), and junior Brendan Devane (nine goals), who has already committed to play at the Division I level at Bryant.

The same goes for the midfield line, which is talented and also varsity-tested with seniors Luke Reyes-Guerra-Dunn (nine goals), Mike Burns (13 goals) and Tommy Hayes (five goals). Burns had three goals in Wilton’s big 12-11 win over Yorktown last season. Reyes-Guerra-Dunn is another D1 recruit (Hartford).

And with Ottens, a returning First Team All-FCIAC and Class M All-State player, back at the face-off X, the Warriors will be guaranteed plenty of possession time. Ottens will play on the D1 level for Brown.

Defensively, Wilton will be solid in goal with Johnson (who will play for St. Lawrence next year), while Wells (who will play for Franklin & Marshall) is a returning First Team All-FCIAC defender, and Second Team All-State.

Senior Henry Lee, a long-pole middie last season, will move to close defense, which also will feature senior Mike Lasala and sophomore Jack Dexter. Lee will play D1 lacrosse for Boston University next year.

Long-pole middies this season will be senior Sean Roberts and freshman Mike Brown.

The defense will also feature defensive middies Brendan Shagi and Max Maudsley, both seniors. Maudsley, a basketball standout, hasn’t played lacrosse for several years but earned a spot on the team none the less with his athletic ability.

Josh Worley, a junior, will back up Johnson in goal.

Notes: Wiseman said Greenwich enters the season as the FCIAC favorite, with most of its players back, while Darien is expected to reload as always and contend. Ridgefield and New Canaan should also have strong teams, while Fairfield-Ludlowe, Brien McMahon and Staples could all surprise.

“There’s a lot more parity,” he said.