Buckingham, Browne & Nichols coach Rory Morton recalls watching Chris Coady in the Division 1 East final at Harvard Stadium two years ago.
The sturdy St. John’s Prep defenseman was quick with his hands, whether he was scooping up a ground ball or throwing a spear of a check into the chest of an opposing attack, forcing a turnover. He was never one to shy away from using his monstrous frame to send a foe to the turf.
Morton liked what he saw.
A short time later, he was pleased to learn that Coady, determined to play collegiate at an elite Division 1 program, both academically and athletically, was planning to enroll at BB&N and repeat his junior year.
“One thing about football is that it is never about one individual, but a team,” said Morton. “Defense in lacrosse is similar, whereas you need to build confidence in others to work as a unit, and Chris has definitely displayed that nicely.”
Coady certainly can relate to the football analogy.
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound senior from Winchester was an Independent School League co-MVP last fall, rushing for 1,372 yards, passing for 850 more, and scoring 19 touchdowns under center. He also piled up 73 tackles and 16 sacks on defense.
But his future is on the lacrosse field at Duke University, his destination this coming fall.
And as imposing as Coady is as a player now, Morton sees an even brighter future.
“[Duke] saw him three years ago when he was with the Prep, and they know he hasn’t reached his full potential yet,” said Morton.
“He’s going to be even more of a monster when they get a hold of him, with their workout programs and the ways they can help an athlete grow. It will be a sight to see.”
Coady knows that there is much work ahead, because playing at the Division 1 level comes with such high expectations.
“Speed at the next level is going to be a huge step up, so I’ll need to hit the ladders and speed boxes even harder,” said Coady.
“Also, stick skills will be really important, too, because I feel that if you play football, you obviously have the strength to compete, so now it’s about focusing on the little things.”
But what defines Coady as a Division 1 prospect is his work ethic. “Lacrosse is a 12-month sport for these kids who want to play at the next level,” said Morton. “[Chris’s] ability to impact the game physically is extremely noticeable, but he’s one of those kids who’s always working and knows that there’s always something that can be done to improve their game, and that’s why he’s special.”
Coady made his presence felt early against host St. Sebastian’s on Saturday. Two minutes into the first quarter, St. Sebastian’s’ Jake McLaughlin penetrated the Knights’ defense with a split dodge, but as he wound up for the shot was met by Coady, who drove him back with the body. With a few poke checks and a shove Coady forced the turnover and scooped up the ground ball, juking one attackman before outsprintng three others to clear the ball into the offensive end of the field.
Westford Academy coach Matt Tholander sees a similar trait with two of his seniors who will also play in college next season.
Captain Alex Eaton, who is headed to Lehigh, has 31 goals and 14 assists through the first 11 games.
“Alex is an incredible lacrosse player and has one-on-one moves that will leave you in the dust,” said Tholander. “His split dodge is incredible, and the way he can get to the goal and score is what gives him that Division 1-caliber stature.”
Gettysburg-bound teammate Cam Carlyle anchors the Grey Ghost defense with a versatile game.
“Cam is a great on-the-ball defender and it doesn’t matter which hand you come at him with, he’ll shut you down,” said Tholander. Carlyle, like Eaton and Coady, brings a football mentality to the lacrosse field.
“Making quick decisions in both sports is key, and ability to work with your teammates to make everyone better is essential,” said Tholander. “When you combine a football mentality with sticks in lacrosse, it’s a deadly combination.”
In the fall, Masconomet Regional senior Kurt Hunzinger launched his 6-3, 215-pound frame into opposing backs from his position at middle linebacker. On the lacrosse field, the University of Massachusetts Amherst can pick apart his foes physically and and get to the net with force.
“[Kurt] has the ability to see the field quickly and take what is given to him by the defense and create his own opportunities and opportunities for the team,” said Masconomet coach Tom Cobb.
“To be a D1 lacrosse player, physical stature and build is essential because it will be much more difficult to score at the next level, so speed and stick skills will need some work, but the ability he has to create his own chances from any situation is what separates him from the others.”
Billerica senior Tom McLaughlin will also play for the Minutemen, where he will join former high school teammate Grant Whiteway, a freshman at UMass.
The common thread for all the college recruits, according to Masconomet’s Cobb, is their mindset.
“The integrity of the player who’s going to dedicate himself to the sport and won’t be satisfied with their high school abilities at this point, is one that is going to be someone who makes an impact.”
Catholic girls battle to win
The Central Catholic girls are receiving solid play from their underclassmen.
The Raiders (8-2) picked up key wins over Arlington, Chelmsford, and Tewksbury and are battling Andover for the top spot in the Merrimack Valley Conference.
“We graduated nine seniors, so I wasn’t sure how things would go this year, but we’ve had some freshmen and sophomores play well for us as of late,” said Raiders coach Phil Rowley.
Sophomore Maeve Holland, a transfer from Londonderry, N.H., has put up impressive numbers (27 goals, seven assists).
“Maeve is very fast and physical and has shown tremendous improvement in her first varsity season,” said Rowley. “But we also have our returning senior goalie back in Mary Foggo, who’s saved 55 percent of the shots taken, and our defense has only allowed roughly six goals per game, so we’re playing well as a unit but still have some things we need to work on.”
Central Catholic will face its toughest part of its schedule late in the season.
“Consistency will be a deciding factor for us and if we have any Achilles’ heel, it will be our defense,” said Rowley. “But we have a young team and have had nice players step up when we needed them to. Only allowing six goals per game, the girls are picking up what needs to be done and that’s key moving forward.”
Odds and ends
Senior midfielder Michele Galanos netted 3 goals to propel Central Catholic over Tewkssbury, 10-2. Senior Tewksbury resident Courtney Wilson netted her first varsity goal in the conference victory. . . . Chelmsford’s Johanna Cramer scored seven goals and added three assists as the Lions defeated Tewksbury, 18-8. . . . Defeating Dual County league foe Bedford, 20-7, junior Bailey Mongillo scored eight times for the Grey Ghosts in the victory.
Ryan MacInnis can be reached at email@example.com.