Nick Brozowski knew why he was there, funneled to the ninth-grade team due to a crowded varsity roster, and a coach who had long abided by his own set of rules.
Brozowski understood it. He just didn’t like it.
He buried his ego deep beneath the surface, somewhere he wouldn’t find it again for a while. That’s what his coach wanted him to do.
That was two years ago.
The Concord-Carlisle High boys’ varsity lacrosse team has since won a state championship, surprising its own players along the way. Many of those players have graduated, leaving coach Tom Dalicandro with a new group of typical Concord-Carlisle players — they’re athletic, but they play too many sports, leaving the lacrosse stick in the corner collecting cobwebs during the offseason.
Even simple passing in lacrosse takes skill. And it takes time to get that skill back.
There’s one thing the Patriots really need right now: Simplicity.
And there isn’t anyone on the roster who understands simplicity better than Brozowski. The uber-athletic long-stick midfielder doesn’t have to like it, but he gets it. And if Concord-Carlisle wants to hoist the Division 2 state trophy again this spring, spreading that understanding to the rest of the team is a good place to start.
“We’re a pretty simple defense,” said senior Evan Boynton . “Conservative. We don’t go for a lot of checks, don’t play the over-aggressive and double.
“Nick has done that. He bought into it, and understanding what the whole defense is trying to do as a team. He’s going to take away the other team’s best midfielder and give them fits. That’s what he does.”
In middle school, Brozowski didn’t make the best first impression on Dalicandro.
Brozowski describes himself as the “punk kid, the mess-around kid who wouldn’t listen to the teacher.” He can say that now, in a way suggesting how much he’s learned and grown.
“One time I was messing around in gym class with a Frisbee,” Brozowski recalled, and Dalicandro, who teaches phys ed at Concord Middle School, said, “ ‘How are you ever going to play for me in high school if you treat me this way?’ ”
“I realized at that moment that this guy is my lacrosse coach and I have to smarten up here. Ever since then I’ve tried to be a leader, and over the years our relationship has gotten really nice. We can talk about things on and off the field. It’s nice to know you have a coach that cares about lacrosse and got us on the same page. Our relationship has gotten great.”
On the freshman team, Brozowski played the understudy role well. His talent shone through and he set the tone for hard work.
“We probably could have taken him,” Dalicandro said. “We were so deep at the varsity level, though. He dominated the games. He was the best player on the freshman team.
“We try not to bring up too many young guys. I know we have the last couple years, but I was never successful when I tried it a few years ago. So I’ve always shied away from that. Things have kind of changed.”
Dalicandro broke his rule last year and gave Will Blumenberg a uniform. No regrets there. Blumenberg was a key offensive weapon all season.
This spring, Dalicandro brought up two more freshmen.
Brozowski has no time to be jealous.
“I try to share knowledge,” he said. “Especially if they’re getting dodged on, or if a play goes wrong I try to let them know what they did and what we did. I try to mentor them. I had Doug Gouchoe and Henry Bumpus telling me what I needed to do . . . It’s nice to hear someone different than a coach yelling at you.”
Brozowski had made plenty of adjustments himself.
“He’s kind of a freelance guy,” Dalicandro said. “He likes to do his thing, which is pretty good most of the time. Of course, that’s not my style at all. But he’s learned to play within the scheme we wanted to play in. This year he’s a little more dominant. He’s shown me some of the things he does are pretty good too.
“He causes havoc. Sometimes I don’t like havoc, but there’s a time for it.”
Developing a seemingly endless battery has been a big part of Brozowski’s growth. Playing football, hockey and lacrosse, he has committed to a consistent work-out routine that gets him up at 5 a.m. three days a week.
After his breakout season for Concord-Carlisle last year, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound midfielder committed to the University of Maryland — as a junior.
Youth movement in Needham
Beth O’Brien was concerned that her Needham High girls would struggle to find their identity following the departure of a talented senior class.
But, she warns, she has some outstanding first-year players on this year’s squad.
Freshman attack Kailey Conry exploded for three goals and an assist in a wild early-season battle between powerhouse programs on Saturday, when the Rockets earned a 9-8 win over Lincoln-Sudbury Regional to improve to 3-0.
Conry, who buried the game-winner with 1:10 left in the game, also added two assists.
Lindgren hits mark for Algonquin
The Algonquin Regional High girls jumped out to a 3-0 start with an impressive 16-14 win over Andover on Saturday.
Since moving Hannah Lindgren up to attack, Algonquin has become a dangerous offensive team.
The lightning-quick senior, who will likely carry much of the load this season following the graduation of All-American Carly O’Connell (now playing at Oregon), scored four goals in the victory against Andover.Jason Mastrodonato can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.