Boys lacrosse prepares for playoffs after challenging year

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Christine O'Loughlin

Boys lacrosse has played in honor of senior captain, Jake Naar.

The past year for the boys lacrosse team has been filled with many challenges and great pain. Starting with last year getting canceled and then the passing of senior captain, Jake Naar, the group has endured far more than any team should.

The boys currently have a 8-5 record, but due to state rules this season, seeding is completely random. This benefits the team as they have received a first round bye.  It won’t be an easy road, but this squad, under head coach Roger Sampson, has displayed great mental toughness to this point.

“It’s been a very difficult year, I had selected Jake Naar as one of my captains…also with the loss of our 2020 season and then being in hybrid and full remote, people have a difficult time,” Sampson said. “And then we lost Jake which was very devastating. Emotionally and mentally it has been very hard.”

This season didn’t start out strong as the team dropped two games against a highly skilled BG team who is still undefeated to this point in the season.

“Right after tryouts we got quarantined,” Sampson said, “so we’re in a ten day quarantine while everyone else in the league is training and getting into game shape. So our quarantine ended on Friday at midnight, and then we opened up the gate with BG on Tuesday, and they crushed us of course.”

Since the first two games against BG, the team has won eight out of eleven games and is proving their resilience across the state. Now with one regular season game left where they face Pinkerton Academy, the boys are preparing for potential playoff matchups.

“The bracket came out and puts us in a good position to get to the championship,” Sampson said. “We have a first round bye and Pinkerton has Salem. Salem won’t beat Pinkerton, so we’re going to play Pinkerton, Pinkerton, Pinkerton. We should have a good idea who they are by the time that playoff game comes around.”

Many seniors have stepped up this season to attempt and fill the huge void left by captain, Jake Naar, who’s presence with his voice was just as important as the skills he displayed.

“Hunter Smith has been a leader for this team,” Sampson said. “He was a starter his sophomore year, but Hunter is kind of quiet. Robbie Derhak is another captain. He’s been on this team since his freshman year. He’s the real deal defensively, but he’s also quiet. He’s not a talker. Jake Naar was a talker. Jake Naar could motivate you. Zach Fawcett has filled that role, he’s done a really good job.”

This crew is looking to be the first Londonderry lacrosse team to make a state championship in program history. Though the playoffs will certainly be a challenge, these boys have been through much worse than Pinkerton lacrosse. They have dealt with pain, grief, sadness, anger and so much more than what happens on the field.

“The boys know the task at hand,” Sampson said. “I think they’re where they need to be emotionally and physically. [Pinkerton] is talented. We’re talented. Let’s see who rises to the occasion.”

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