Cam Slatton hobbled onto the field March 19 for the first practice of the season at Billerica High, primed to lead the attack.
One month earlier, the 5-foot-7 senior captain broke his right ankle, which required a screw to be inserted into his foot. But Slatton was not going to allow the injury to derail his final season: He scored 48 goals and assisted on 30 others to power the Indians to the Division 1 East quarterfinals against Lincoln-Sudbury.
“He was the most vocal leader on our team,” said Billerica’s coach, Craig Flynn .
“He motivated our guys to play through whatever injuries they had, because he wouldn’t let his ankle hold him back. His determination and leadership is what makes him stand out.”
Slatton, who will play collegiately at Union, finished his stellar career at Billerica with 297 points. And thanks to his grit and stellar play, he earns our nod as an Unsung Hero.
A number of other players, boys and girls, put together terrific seasons. Here’s a few who stood tall:
Goalie (boys): Matt Comerford , Reading
With 297 saves in 22 games, the 6-foot-4 junior netminder led the Rockets to a 16-6 season before an 8-1 loss to Foxborough in the Division 2 East quarterfinals.
“[Matt] has made a gigantic impact on our team this year,” said coach Charlie Hardy . “His ability to change our defense, make adjustments, and really be the defensive coach on the field is what brought us so far. He leads by example, is level-headed, and with his confidence, we expect big things from him next year.”
Comerford registered a save percentage of 74.2, allowing 5.2 goals per game.
Best defender (boys): Cam Carlyle , Westford
An imposing force, he scooped up 54 ground balls and helped the Grey Ghosts limit opponents to eight goals per game.
“On ball defense, he’s great and when there was a big hit to be made for momentum, it was by Cam,” said coach Matt Tholander . “He’s one of the fastest kids on our team; he’s a very physical defenseman when he’s on one-on-ones and communicates very well with our defense to make big stops.”
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Carlyle will play at Gettysburg.
Breakout performer (boys): Jay Drapeau , Westford
The prolific scoring of the sophomore attack was one of the main reasons the Grey Ghosts earned a berth in the Division 1 North tourney. He netted 95 goals and 30 assists after putting up 50-25 totals as a freshman.
“Jay was the face of our offense this season,” said Tholander. “His ability to make space for himself and find ways to score were the reasons why he is so good.”
Best offensive player (boys): Kurt Hunzinger , Masconomet
With 47 goals and 28 assists, the University of Massachusetts Amherst recruit helped propel the Chieftains to the Division 1 East quarterfinals. The 6-foot-3 middie averaged 3.8 points per game and picked up 79 ground balls.
“Kurt is an outstanding athlete and leader on the team,” said coach Tom Cobb . “He was such an imposing physical player that he could really change the game for us and swing momentum whenever we needed it.”
Best goalie (girls): Jill Beucler , Andover
The Quinnipiac recruit was the backbone of the Golden Warrior defense, making 114 saves. Also a captain for the state champion swim team, Beucler allowed 8.8 goals per game, saving 53-percent of the shots on net.
“She was a field player as a freshman and at the end of her freshman year, started to come to varsity practices and when we needed a goaltender, she volunteered to work at the position, said coach John McVeigh . “She became a great goalie as a sophomore and an outstanding one as a senior. She played against the top teams in the state and did a tremendous job.”
Best defender (girls): Maggie Connolly , Winchester
The senior captain limited Ipswich’s leading scorer, Natalie Soliozy , to one goal in the Sachems’ 21-9 victory for the Division 2 North crown.
“She is a true midfielder, as she does a great job on both sides on the ball,” said coach Suzanne Ontso . “She’s quick, fast, doesn’t get a lot of penalties, and has amazing speed. She’s one of our top ground-ball girls and has the upper hand in most 50/50 loose-ball situations.”
The Gettysburg recruit is an All-American selection and an EMass all-star.
Breakout performer (girls): Maeve Holland , Central Catholic
The 5-foot-11 sophomore midfielder’s first varsity season after transferring from Londonderry High (N.H.) was tremendous. She scored 48 times and had 12 helpers to lead Central Catholic to a 13-6 season.
“She picked up a stick last year, and her size, her strength, natural instinct of the game took over and really helped our team,” said coach Phil Rowley . “She had an ‘attack-first’ mindset and could really handle the offense with her size and speed. Her moves from being a basketball player have shown tremendously as well. As Maeve went, the team went.”
Best offensive player (girls): Ally Fazio , Andover
The University of Connecticut recruit netted 67 goals and dished out 56 assists, leading the Golden Warriors to a 20-4 season before losing to Lincoln-Sudbury in the Division 1 North final, 12-7.
“She had one of the best offensive seasons of anyone that has played lacrosse at Andover and to do it against the teams she played this year was incredible,” said coach John McVeigh. “She has great balance in knowing when to attack the goal and when to find her teammates, and that made her an incredible threat.” She finished with 175 goals and 129 assists (304 points).
Unsung Hero (girls): Bridget O’Flynn , Ipswich
After leading the Tigers in ground balls as a freshman (52) and sophomore (79), the junior wing was asked by Greg Churchill to step forward on the attack.
O’Flynn scored 39 goals, had 14 assists, picked up 52 ground balls, and recorded 65 draw controls. “[Bridget] is a fierce competitor and a hard worker and knew she could handle the extra responsibility,” said Churchill. “What really made my eyes open wide to her offensive potential was her shot. As like any good shooter, she uses her whole body to power a shot.”