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Norwood - Local Town Pages

Norwood/Dedham Lax Coop Hoping for Successful Second Year

By Christopher Tremblay
After not having enough athletes to form a complete team, Norwood co-oped with Dedham last spring to put together a boys lacrosse team. Under the banner of Dedham, the squad finished the season at 9-6, defeated Arlington 12-5 in the first round of the Division 1 State Tournament before falling 19-3 to Lincoln-Sudbury, who went onto the Final 4 of the  tournament before losing to Boston College.
“Being a co-op team, we are forced to move up a division in the State Tournament,” Coach Mike Nardelli said. “Going up against Lincoln-Sudbury was a tough task at hand. They had 16 seniors committed to play on the collegiate level, six or seven going to play for Division 1. We just went out and did what we could while throwing the kitchen sink at them trying to disrupt their rhythm; unfortunately that didn’t happen.”
Having to play in a division above their normal schedule made it relatively tough for the Dedham-Norwood team to move deep into the tournament once they got there.  According to Nardelli, Division 1 lacrosse in itself is one of the best divisions in the state and they would have to go up against the best of the best in the sport.
While the team will have a significant number of athletes retuning this spring, they did lose six seniors, including their goalie, their face-off guy, an attack, their long stick middie, and two other role players.
Despite losing some talented athletes, Nardelli does have his entire defense coming back with Dillon Vautour, Charlie McGregor, and Chris McGary, as well as juniors Thomas Lynch and Joey O’Brien. 
Sophomore long stick middie Ryan Valery, who came out for the team last season and primarily saw action on the junior varsity team, will see varsity action this year. The then freshman made his way to the varsity team and saw significant action come the end of the year. 
“Not only did Ryan add some height and weight, he’ll bring a presence to the field this year,” the Coach said. “He is very comfortable with the varsity team and understands our packages and his stick skills are much better.”
Offensively, sophomore Frankie Forest will be looked upon to be that strong face-off guy. The Tri-Valley League All-Star will be the quarterback on the field for Dedham-Norwood.
“Frankie plays club lacrosse for Laxachusetts and could possibly be the best lacrosse player to ever come out of Norwood,” Nardelli said. “Originally, it took him a few weeks to get acclimated, but he picked things up quickly and recorded 50 points last year as a freshman.”

The squad will not only look to Forest to continue his success on the field, but will also have five captains leading the charge. From Norwood, Vautour, Richie Carroll, and Kevin Sopel will be the captains this year. Carroll posted a 70-plus season last  year and is still undecided where he wants to go to college despite the numerous offers he has received. Sopel posted 65 points last year, including 15 against Bellingham at the end of the season. He is expected to turn it up a notch this spring.  The Dedham captains are McGregor and JB McInerney, a transfer from Catholic Memorial.
The starting goalie will be junior Ryan Harris, who pushed the first string goalie last year, but will inherit the position to be his own this season. He is a very vocal individual and will hold down the position for the next two seasons.
Role players looking to contribute will be Will Whitley at attack; Tom Quinn, Eric Caplani, Brody McInerney, and Paul Lupianez in the middle, and another Catholic Memorial transfer in Noelle Adams at attack. Senior Ethan Brownbill, a football captain, will be looking to also play lacrosse for the first time, most likely on the defensive side of the field.
Nardelli sees this team having a much more balanced attack this year with a lot of player involvement with once again the main goal being to advance into the tournament.
“Last year, we had a four-game winning streak during the season and also won seven of nine down the stretch,” the Coach said “I want to be more consistent this year while building that momentum as we come to the tournament. We have a lot of experience coming back so we should be able to close the gap this year.”
Nardelli went on to say that he expects to win those tight games that the squad lost last year and he definitely wants to finally defeat Medway and Westwood, teams the squad has yet to take down.
While Dedham and Norwood are joining forces to field a boys lacrosse team, both schools are looking to build a program in which they can eventually go their separate ways. 
“This is very exciting being a co-op with Dedham,” Nardelli said. “We want to bring this program to the level where we can both eventually have our own programs again. We’re looking to have both a junior varsity as well as a varsity program so that when the kids get to the varsity level they are game experienced.”