WESTON — It’s this innate feeling that mothers seem to have, like they know when their children are about to be in embarrassing situations and they have the camera zoomed in for more shots than a blushing child would appreciate.
Caren Demoulas had that intuition back in 2005, when her son, Joey Pasquale, had just finished ballroom dancing lessons as a fifth-grader with his new best friend, Jared Fong.
Demoulas had just moved her family from Boston to Weston a year earlier. Joey, one of four children, was a shy youngster, and of course she worried about how he would fit in. When she met Jared, though, that worry disappeared.
“That kid is all personality,” she said. “And all smiles.”
‘Our style is up and down the field, so we’re giving up a lot to get a lot.’
Ballroom dancing, Demoulas said, is a rite of passage for Weston fifth-graders. Some parents were allowed to accompany their kids as chaperones, but she was not one of them. She laughs now at the thought, like she doesn’t blame whoever it was in command, considering she still found enough ways to make her son want to crawl under the bed. So she stood outside the Field Elementary School classroom and waited. When Joey and Jared came out, their reactions would be forever captured, thanks to Demoulas’s old camera.
“It’s the cutest picture,” the proud mother said. “They were just as happy together after dancing as they are when they’re together after lacrosse.”
Seven years later, Pasquale and Fong have already led the Weston High boys’ squad to a Division 3 state title, with much newer photos of the two (in lacrosse uniforms, not tuxedos) clinging to a chain-link fence enclosing the turf field on Wellesley Street.
The Wildcats (13-5) entered the Division 3 East sectional tourney as the sixth seed for their preliminary round matchup against No. 22 Canton on Tuesday.
When the two boys first started playing lacrosse together, Pasquale was so impressed with Fong’s ball-stopping ability that he decided he was going to be a goalie too. That idea didn’t last long.
“Jared was head and shoulders better than him,” Demoulas remembered. “So it was ridiculous to even try.”
Fong originally had played attack (and he still might have the skills — he demonstrated some offensive flair in an alumni game last Friday, cradling the ball while evading defenders and winging behind-the-back passes). He only hopped in the cage so he could try to compete with his older brother, Jory , now an attack on the Haverford College squad. And, as Jared recalls it, the goalie position was not a natural fit.
“I thought, ‘This is going to be terrible,’ ” he said. “I just had to keep playing. And I got better and better and better.”
“We played lacrosse every single day,” added Pasquale. “I’d be shooting on him for hours, it seemed like.”
At 5 feet 10 and 155 pounds, Fong couldn’t lean on size as a crutch. But he recognized his reaction speed right away, and “it’s kind of hard to be a goalie without that,” he said.
Coach Jim Wilcon said Fong is even better at stopping close-range shots. He can read the attackman’s direction while using his aggressiveness and low, crouching stance to give opponents nightmares.
Fong is the first four-time Dual County League All-Star in Weston history.
Doug Gouchoe, Concord-Carlisle’s standout goalie who will play for the Air Force Academy in the fall, performs at his best against Weston because “he loves playing against Jared Fong,” said Patriots coach Tom Dalicandro.
Meanwhile, Pasquale has given Weston one of the most prolific left-handed attackman in the area.
The 5-9, 175-pound senior will play at University of Hartford. He scored 35 goals while missing a handful of games with various injuries this spring. And he has dished out 25 assists to a squad that many questioned in the preseason, despite last spring’s state title, because of a lack of depth.
One coach went as far as to say, “If you take away Joey Pasquale, Weston can’t beat you.”
Pasquale and Fong get plenty of respect, but they are sick of being told the Wildcats are nothing without them.
“We hear that a lot,” said Pasquale.
“All the time,” Fong said. “Or I’ll read forums and people say that. It’s just because not everyone else actually knows our team or us individually. They probably just think our star players are doing everything. We actually have a really good team.”
The fact that Fong has been forced to make almost 250 saves this season (he has saved 77 percent of the shots against him) doesn’t help his argument. He’s approaching 1,000 stops for his career, having logged 300 saves two years ago with a chance to match that total in this spring’s tournament.
But it’s unfair to blame that on a poor Weston defense.
“I mean, Jared is four saves every quarter,” said Wilcon. “That’s his deal. And they’re not easy saves. But our style is up and down the field, so we’re giving up a lot to get a lot.”
The problem with this year’s squad, Fong and Pasquale said, has been the lack of team chemistry. Things came easy for them last spring, maybe a little too easy, as Weston lost just a single game all season.
He and Fong held a captains’ meeting earlier this season and told their teammates, “You don’t have to best friends off the field. But during lacrosse season, we all need to be on the same page and work toward that one goal — winning a state title.”
Pasquale didn’t dress for the alumni game last Friday after suffering yet another injury in the Wildcats’ season finale against Arlington Catholic.
Fong is just as beat up. His legs and arms have enough red marks to prompt questions about a motorcycle accident. His wrist is sprained because of a fall from his longboard (“My coach was not happy,” he said). But the two wouldn’t miss a tournament game unless they were chained to a hospital bed.
“We’re not going to let injuries take us out,” Pasquale said.
Of course, lacrosse is a much more dangerous activity than ballroom dancing. Demoulas was just hoping Pasquale’s 95-miles-per-hour shot and Fong’s cat-like reflexes keep Weston around long enough this tournament to have something to celebrate.
She has her camera ready.