Stationed on the right side of the net, Jay Drapeau received a pass from Westford Academy teammate Alex Eaton and took on BC High defender Aidan Keohane.
Two steps forward and a split-dodge from left hand to right, the 5-foot-7 attack maneuvered his way around Keohane and propelled a shot that grazed over the right shoulder of goalie Jonathan Barton.
The Grey Ghosts were ousted, 11-9, in the Division 1 North first-round game on Sunday afternoon, but Drapeau netted three goals, capping a stellar sophomore season in which he finished with 95 goals and 30 assists.
“Jay is exceptional and unbelievable,” said Westford coach Matt Tholander.
“There’s not too many goal scorers like him in the state, and he’s a lacrosse player. He has a great sense for the game and has an incredible shot, but anyone who plays the amount of lacrosse that he does, you’re obviously going to have success.”
Drapeau scored 50 goals and delivered 25 assists as a freshman, and the surge in offensive production is a credit to the sophomore’s tenacity and work ethic. Drapeau, who scored 39 points this past winter on the hockey team, spends numerous hours a week shooting on his net in his backyard, something that has helped his ability to attack the net.
“I worked a ton in the offseason on my shooting, stick skills, and dodging, because last year I really didn’t have an outside shot, and now I have more options to attack the net,” said Drapeau.
“I watched Mikey Powell growing up when he played for Syracuse, and I watched the ways he attacked the net from behind it, and I’ve tried to do the same.”
Cam Carlyle, a senior defender who will play at Gettysburg next year, said that Drapeau “really found his shots this season. . . . He was able to pick corners from a low angle all season.”
Going into next year, Tholander and Drapeau like their chances of another successful run.
“I’m looking forward to having [Jay] for two more years, and I think we have a good shot at the DCL title and a nice tournament run,” said Tholander.
“I’m looking forward to looking at how we can improve next year as a team and go further in the tournament,” said Drapeau. “I’m going to take what I’ve learned from [the seniors] and put it to work next year.”
He is not the only talented player in the area who will be back for at least another season.
At Winchester High, junior midfielder Megan Hennessey emerged as a lethal scorer, scoring 73 goals and adding 38 assists through 22 games. The Sachems play Marblehead in a Division 2 North semifinal on Tuesday.
“She’s been a standout since she was a freshman,” said Winchester coach Suzanne Ontso. “She’s really unselfish when she plays, and to be only the second player in school history to have over 100 assists in two seasons shows that.”
Hennessey, an all-state selection, has already committed to play lacrosse at Harvard.
Hennessey “can play any position, she has a really strong lacrosse IQ, and she’s always been a big-game player for us,” said Ontso. “Playing two sports at a high level helps her move at a high level, and because we have stronger players (10 seniors, and eight will play in college), there’s a nice level of high competition at practices that consistently challenges her daily.”
And Ontso is not concerned how Hennessey or her other six juniors will handle taking on more of a leadership role next season. Hennessey recently earned a spot on a Lower New England non-senior squad which became the first from the region to win the women’s national tournament.
“She only knows one level of lacrosse, and that’s one played at an extremely high level,” said Ontso. “By her playing with so many talented leaders in our seniors, I think she’ll come into next season with the mindset they left with, and that is to show your level of commitment and enthusiasm necessary to bring everyone together and win games.”
Three-year starter D.J. Smith has been the rock in goal for the Billerica boys this season, making 284 saves through 21 games.
“He’s been through the trenches with us, and with a win-loss of 56-11 as a junior, you can see that he comes up big time and time again,” said Billerica coach Craig Flynn of the 5-foot-10 Smith. “He’s been working so hard at the game, playing all year round, and he always wants to be a better lacrosse player.”
In Sunday’s 9-8 victory over Newton North in the Division 1 North first round, the University of Massachusetts Amherst recruit made 18 saves.
“When we need big saves or momentum, D.J. finds ways to get us both,” said Flynn. “He excelled in youth lacrosse, goes to all the camps, and has a great work ethic. He’s played Duxbury five times in three years, so I don’t think there are many things that can or will rattle him.”
The Indians will lose 13 seniors, but with Smith headlining 11 rising seniors, Flynn is confident about the future.
“He keeps improving and keeps building confidence, and has taken a lot of what the seniors have brought to the table this year,” said Flynn. “Without [D.J.] and the saves he’s made, we wouldn’t have won as many games as we did this season.”
Tyngsborough junior midfielder Amanda Wickens has established herself as one of the top players in Central Massachusetts. Although the Tigers were ousted by Bromfield, 17-15, in the first round of the tournament, Wickens collected 108 goals and 29 assists in 21 games.
“Amanda’s sense of the game is her strongest trait to our team,” said coach Paige Tollner. “She knows how to set the pace of not only our offense but our defense as well. She sees the plays developing on both sides of the ball.”
Wickens also credits her play on the soccer pitch, where she is a midfielder.
“I work hard in anything that I do,” said Wickens. “I feel that by being on the smaller side, I often need to be more aggressive than other girls. My footwork has been something that needs to be spot on to get good shots and to get by bigger girls in both sports.”
Tollner knows that the 2013 Tigers’ lacrosse squad will have a strong shot at another post season run with the leadership of Wickens.
“Her work ethic is unbelievable,” said Tollner. “She never settles, constantly challenging herself and her teammates. Amanda is so hungry to go further in 2013, and that’s what’s going to fuel our team next year, as all of the underclassmen will be feeding off her energy.”
Ryan MacInnis can be reached at email@example.com.