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Boston Rockhoppers make home indoor lacrosse debut Saturday in Marlborough

Lacrosse hits Marlborough

The Boston Rockhoppers, a new Marlborough-based entry in the North American Lacrosse League, derives its name from the rockhopper penguin.

Emulating the hardy bird from the shores of the Falkland Islands and the Antarctic, the Rockhoppers cleared the team’s first obstacle Saturday night with a 10-9 season-opening win against the host Kentucky Stickhorses.

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Founded by former Babson College lacrosse teammates Tyler Low and Jason Wellemayer, the Rockhoppers will take on the Baltimore Bombers in their home opener at the New England Sports Center at 7 p.m. Saturday. The partners also share ownership of PrimeTime Lacrosse in Wellesley.

The team’s head coach is Jack Piatelli , a Brookline native who played indoor professional lacrosse 20 years ago with the Boston Blazers. Also on the sideline as an assistant is fellow Wrentham resident Steve Schairer, King Philip Regional High’s athletic director. Piatelli and Schairer coached together at Dean College in Franklin, and both are members of the New England Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Their roster includes Wellesley High grad Mike Stone , who played for Middlebury College, and Waltham’s Jon Hayes  (Western New England), both of whom suited up outdoors for Major League Lacrosse’s Boston Cannons last season, and Norfolk native Ryan Hoffmeister  (Hartwick College).

Indoor, or “box,’’ lacrosse is played on a synthetic-turf-covered ice hockey rink, measuring roughly 200 by 85 feet, with five players and a goalkeeper per side. There is a 30-second shot clock, the goal is smaller (4 by 4½ feet) than traditional ­lacrosse, and play is stopped only after a goal or a penalty call.

“It’s going to help me out with my stick skills and conditioning for the outdoor game,’’ said Hayes, a defender who scored twice against Kentucky.

“I had played in a couple of local box lacrosse leagues, and since it’s a smaller surface, the ball movement is a bit quicker and it’s more chaotic, especially when you get checked by someone you don’t see coming. But having played hockey in high school, it’s great to be in that kind of atmosphere again.’’

A three-sport athlete at Waltham High, Hayes has played three seasons with the Cannons, who won their league title in 2011 and made the semifinals last year.

The Rockhoppers played two exhibition games with Kentucky last year to gear up for their inaugural season. The league’s constitution mandates that each team’s 23-man roster include at least 18 American-born players.

“I like coaching mobile and quick defenders who can run up the floor, and those goals Jon scored for us surprised Kentucky,’’ said Piatelli, who was a star player for the Kent School and Springfield College and now is also a head coach and program director with PrimeTime Lacrosse. “And Mike is a very skilled forward with a great intellect for the sport. They’ll hopefully be even better players when they return to the Cannons.’’

Rink 1 at NESC seats 1,800, and Low said Monday that advance sales had reached 1,000.

Low, 25, who grew up in Natick and played hockey and lacrosse at Noble & Greenough School, and the 27-year-old Wellemeyer founded PrimeTime in 2008 while still in college.

“We started by running a small pickup league in Natick, and then ran an overnight lacrosse camp at Babson,’’ he recalled, “and now we’ve grown to 2,000 players from ages 6 to 18 who participate in camps, clinics, and on teams.

“We already had a youth team called the Penguins,’’ said Low, “so we just went with a tougher penguin, the rockhopper, for our logo.’’

Hannah Foley, Tufts on a roll

The Tufts University women’s basketball team and sophomore guard Hannah Foley of Acton are on quite a roll.

Foley, an Acton-Boxborough Regional High grad who was named the New England Small College Athletic Conference Player of the Week, was averaging a team-best 12.2 points per game and 4.4 rebounds. Tufts, ranked eighth nationally in Division 3, was 13-0 — the best start in program history.

“Hannah came into the preseason stronger and quicker, which has also helped her defensively, and she earned a starting position on the wing,’’ said Tufts head coach Carla Berube.  “She’s also a more consistent three-point shooter with even greater range.’’

Foley played on an AAU team coached by former Needham High and Tufts star Colleen Hart and was coached by Berube at a basketball camp at Harvard University.

“I liked her confidence and her work ethic when I first saw her, but what stood out was Hannah’s commitment to defense, and that’s what we’re all about here,’’ said Berube, whose team plays NESCAC games Friday at Bowdoin and Saturday at Colby.

Last Friday, Foley’s 13 points and 5 rebounds were critical in a 61-57 victory over Williams. She was 4 for 6 from the field, hit one of two 3-pointers and was perfect (4 for 4) from the free-throw line. She added 10 points the next day, when the Jumbos went to 2-0 in the conference with a 54-41 win against visiting Middlebury.

Notables

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth sophomore defenseman Steve Ginand of Milford was named Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Week for his effort in the Norwich Northfield Savings Bank Holiday Classic tournament. He had a goal and an assist in the Corsairs’ 3-2 loss in the semifinals to eventual champ Neumann University of Aston, Pa.

Wheaton College senior forward Max Swanson of Lexington was an honorable mention for the second consecutive year to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s College Division Scholar All-East team. Swanson, a history major with a 3.66 cumulative grade point average, played in 74 career games and totaled 19 goals and 11 assists. He was a first team All-New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference pick last season.

Marvin Pave can be reached at marvin.pave@rcn.com
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