CONCORD — Rogers Boylan was there last June at Harvard Stadium, jubilant after the Dover-Sherborn boys’ lacrosse team beat Cohasset for the Division 3 title, just as he was the year before, as a sophomore, when the Raiders topped North Reading.
Second-team All-America honors and the “Back-to-Back State Champions” sweat shirts many of his teammates wear serve as constant reminders to the Raiders — and every team they play — just how big the targets on their backs have become.
But as far as Boylan and his four fellow senior captains are concerned, none of that — the state championship memories and apparel to go with it — means much this time of year, nor does it put the burden on other teams to knock them off the pedestal. Instead, it is quite the opposite.
“A lot of it is pressure on ourselves,” Boylan said Saturday at Concord-Carlisle High as a cold March drizzle gave way to welcome sun during a preseason jamboree. “It’s our year as the five seniors on the team. The last two years, we were on the team, but they weren’t our state championships. Now as seniors and the captains of the team, we want to live up to that legacy and show we can do it ourselves. It puts a lot on our shoulders.”
Boylan and Chase Hyde, both defensemen, will team up with midfielders Erik Patriquin and Clark Murphy to anchor the defensive corps that will carry D-S. Coach Brian McLaughlin said he expects the team to lean on the four captains quite a bit while the mostly young offense, which does include the team’s fifth captain, attackman Jack Polk, finds its footing.
Patriquin and Murphy were both starters in the defensive midfield last season and will resume those responsibilities when the Raiders open the regular season Friday at Holliston. Boylan and Hyde will play more as close defenders with the graduation of last year’s captain, Will Scatchard.
That defensive group will also be important playing in front of the team’s biggest X-factor: junior goalie Jack Fontaine, who is filling the hole vacated by All-American Ryan Goodall, the team’s backstop during both state title runs. Replacing goalies of that caliber, however, is nothing new for the Raiders’ coaching staff.
Goodall earned the job as a junior in 2012 after the graduation of an All-American Jeff Williams. Williams himself replaced Garrett Akie, a 2008 grad who also nabbed All-American honors.
Fontaine, McLaughlin said, “definitely has that potential.” It’s just a matter of helping him reach it.
Patriquin remembers the last transition. Goodall was lacking in varsity experience but not raw talent, and it was not long before the Raiders were comfortable letting opposing teams take shots from the perimeter because they knew Goodall would be there.
With Fontaine the new guy in net, D-S might wind up playing man-to-man a little tighter to allow fewer shots overall. But Patriquin suggested Fontaine might be able to make the adjustment even faster than his predecessor.
“He’s going to make mistakes as a first-year goalie — every goalie makes mistakes,” Patriquin said. “For Jack, we’re going to have to keep him thinking positive thoughts and he should be fine.”
Added Hyde: “He’s a great goalie and we’re going to try to make him better.”
Fontaine is, for now, a question mark, but that is not necessarily indicative of his ability. McLaughlin, like the captains, said he expects Fontaine to continue that D-S goalie dynasty and make the transition just fine.
“Kids have just stepped into that role and accepted it. They kind of know, ‘I’m behind this guy, he’s great, he’s an All-American, and I need to step up next year like him,’ ” McLaughlin said. “I think Jack will step into that role and just make saves. It’s going to take him a little bit, just getting used to the clearing, passing, the speed of the game. But I think definitely he could step into that role.”
The inexperience up front might not be as bad as it seems. Aside from Polk, the captain, the Raiders also return junior attackman and Boston University recruit Grant Gregory and junior midfielder Chris Williams, who started last season.
Concord-Carlisle coach Tom Dalicandro, whose team scrimmaged Dover-Sherborn Saturday, said the Raiders held the ball well and “really took it to us.”
Wellesley coach Rocky Batty said he expects Dover-Sherborn to be strong, no matter what tier the team plays in (Wellesley is in Division 1 this year, while D-S is in Division 3).
“I don’t want to play Dover,” he said. “They’re too good.”
That is a start for the Raider captains, who have taken a hard stance that the last two seasons say nothing about this group.
“It’s a new leaf. We can’t be living off of last year or two years ago, those state championships,” Hyde said. “It’s a new start. And we have to come out here with that mind-set. We haven’t won anything yet and we need to do that.”Tim Healey can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @timbhealey.