The past few seasons have been a roller coaster for the Medford boys’ lacrosse program. The Mustangs have oscillated between blowout wins against Greater Boston League competition and tough results against nonleague foes.
Yet it isn’t hard for the upperclassmen that lead the program to stay focused when their coach serves as a perfect example of what it looks like to stay committed to athletics in their hometown.
Anthony Tortora, a 2012 Medford graduate, actually took over the head coaching job at his alma mater seven years ago while he was still playing lacrosse for UMass Boston.
At 20 years old, he put together an all-conference season and went on to set the Beacons program record for most steals as a middie, all while serving as an assistant basketball coach and the head lacrosse coach for the Mustangs.
Now, the self-described “sports junkie” works as an information technology specialist at Medford High and spends much of his down time helping out with Medford Youth Lacrosse, an endeavor that many of his current seniors hope to join after they graduate.
“It’s one of those things where we’re all cut from the same cloth, I’m just a little older,” said Tortora, who also played basketball and football at Medford.
“[The players] ask me if I would go anywhere else to coach, and I say, ‘Absolutely not.’ I’m a Medford guy through and through, and when you have that transparency, they know we’re all being selfless.
“We’re trying to make program best it can be and they know I’ll always have their back. We trust each other and all want to get to the same goal. Whatever we can do for the program, we’re going to do it.”
After winning just six games in each of his first two seasons, Tortora led the Mustangs to a program-record 15 wins in 2017. The following year, Medford defeated Woburn in triple-overtime for the first state tournament win in program history. And the Mustangs won the Northeastern Conference South Division in 2019.
In their first year back in the GBL, the Mustangs went undefeated last spring to secure the No. 2 seed in Division 1 North, but fell in the first round to a talented North Andover squad.
This year, Tortora scheduled as many tough opponents as possible to provide some early teaching moments.
“The goal this year is to make a run in the state tournament,” said senior captain Justin Giglio, who is tied for the team lead with 39 assists.
“Now that we’re facing better opponents, we’ll see what we can do. [Losing to North Andover] last year was an eye-opening experience to see there are always teams that are better than us, but if we play together, we can compete.”
Medford (12-6, 7-0) has outscored league foes, 138-9, en route to another GBL title. The Mustangs are 5-6 in nonleague games, including a few tough losses, but Tortora has found teachable moments in both situations.
“Our team says I really nitpick on a lot of things,” Tortora said. “It especially shows when we’re up 10-0 and I show them something on film. I might be mad in a 17-0 win and I might be in good mood after a 6-3 loss to Weston.”
Early in the season, senior attack Connor Finnegan scored a program-record 10 goals in a 19-1 win at Malden. But Medford’s 4-3 comeback win over Woburn on May 16 might have been more meaningful.
Freshman Nate Tremlett scored the tying goal with 2:30 left in regulation, and fed Finnegan for the winner in overtime. With Tremlett contributing and sophomore Roan Kennedy already named captain, the future of the program is in good hands.
“Having a freshman on the field who is able to score gives us high hopes for next year, that there will be good structure and someone to rely on,” said Finnegan, a UMass Boston commit who leads the Mustangs with 47 goals.
Finnegan will be playing at Tortora’s college alma mater the next few years, and he hasn’t ruled out stepping in as an assistant at the high school or youth level late in the spring.
Giglio and fellow senior captain Miles Taylor are headed straight into the electrician field after high school and plan to coach Medford Youth Lacrosse next spring. Senior goalie Richie Moretti is going to be training with the Marines next spring, but he also hopes to coach in his hometown at some point.
“Coach is so committed, it’s probably one of the biggest things motivating everyone,” Moretti said. “He’s always there fighting for us and doing everything to make us better as a team. Joining this team four years ago is one of the best decisions I’ve made in high school.”
▪ The deadline to apply for the Bruce Lerch Scholarship is June 5. The scholarship, dedicated to the late reporter who helped popularize lacrosse in Massachusetts, is open to MIAA seniors who have played on at least one varsity team the past two years. Inquiries can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
▪ Medfield (12-3) took a couple of close losses earlier this season, but put it all together Wednesday in a 16-5 win over a Franklin team that is averaging 17 goals per game and had scored double-digit goals in every in-state game this season. Bobby Spence made 18 saves, T.J. Casey went 16 for 23 on faceoffs, and the defense was led by Noah Epstein, Quin Fedor, Jack Stanton, and others . . . Dracut (14-3) has continued its surge toward the top of the Division 3 power ratings with five straight wins. Timin Carter, Brock Desmarais, Josh Gagnon are all over 50 points for the Middies and sophomore goalie Jeff Santos has stepped up in his first season as a starter . . . Noble & Greenough defeated Governor’s Academy, 16-8, Monday to clinch the Independent School League title for the fourth time. Chad Palumbo, Ben Clarke, Grayson McClements, and Marty Tully led the way . . . Acton-Boxborough junior middie Tyler Clayton committed to UMass . . . Natick senior Colby LeBlanc became the first player in program history to top 100 points in a season . . . Canton senior Sam Carlino surpassed 50 goals for the second consecutive season.
Games to watch
Saturday, No. 1 St. John’s Prep at No. 2 Hingham, 12 p.m. — Fresh off a 10-5 victory over Lincoln-Sudbury, the Harbormen will look to avenge the only other regular-season loss they’ve suffered over the past two years in taking on the defending D1 state champion at home.
Tuesday, No. 20 Silver Lake at North Attleborough, 3:45 p.m. — When these teams met on April 21, North Attleborough pulled out a 17-16 win in double overtime.
Wednesday, Wakefield at No. 19 Marblehead, 4 p.m. — Senior Josh Robertson and junior Connor Cronin have carried the Magicians this spring after leading Marblehead to its first Super Bowl this past fall. Wakefield comes to town looking for an upset.
Tuesday, No. 8 Concord-Carlisle at No. 14 Reading, 4:15 p.m. — Now a Division 1 program, the Patriots will get one more tune-up before the state tournament by taking on the host Rockets in a rematch of the 2018 D2 state final.
Thursday, No. 10 Billerica at No. 1 St. John’s Prep, 6 p.m. — Champions of the Merrimack Valley Conference and Catholic Conference, respectively, will do battle on the last day of the regular season.