By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/14/12
Eight Duxbury High (MA) seniors came a long way Saturday to compete for Laxachusetts in the second annual Philadelphia Indoor Lacrosse Championships (PILC) at Feasterville’s Sportsplex.
All of the Laxachusetts players have been together since 3rd Grade on the lacrosse field and all of them played football at Duxbury, a Massachusetts superpower (26 straight wins). Their plane ride from Logan Airport in Boston proved worth the time and money as Laxachusetts toppled Jags Lacrosse, 9-5, in the finals of the Class AA (varsity) High School Division.
The PILC, run by NXT Tournaments and Victory Events, adopted full Box Lacrosse rules for the first time. The event was co-sponsored by the American Indoor Lacrosse Association and the Philadelphia Wings. The Wings’ General Manager and Head Coach, Johnny Mouradian, also gave a free clinic on Box Lacrosse with local Wings standout Bill McGlone (Ridley).
Laxachusetts outscored its four pool play foes, 40-8 and then defeated NOVA Generals (VA), 11-6, in the semifinals before encountering the Jags, who also entered play in the finals undefeated.
Laxachusetts was coached by one of its players, Andrew Padula, who has not yet committed to play college lacrosse but will be playing at a high level. (The team’s chaperone was one of the club’s coaches, Mike Connelly). Six other members of the Laxachusetts team have committed or signed on to play Division I college lacrosse and the eighth has committed to play at Division III power Bowdoin.
Laxachusetts featured Padula, goalie Henry Buonagurio (signed with Drexel), defenseman Max Randall (Dartmouth), middie Adam Fitzgerald (Bowdoin), middie Chris Williams (Quinnipiac), LSM James Burke (Penn State), defenseman Matt Okeefe (Johns Hopkins) and attackman Seamus Connelly (Duke).
Buonagurio said the players decided to enter the tourney to get more practice time in before the season. Duxbury is expected to be a major contender for the Massachusetts state title.
“We wanted to prepare for the regular season,” Buonagurio said. “We only had two subs per game and by the last game everybody was borderline dead. Some of us were cramping, and at some points we had four people on the (floor).
“We had gotten up at 4 a.m. in the morning and flown to Philly. We all shared a few hotel rooms and went home the next day.”
Buonagurio admitted that the team had just eno8ugh gas left to hold off the Jags, who closed within 6-5 at one point in the second period.
“It was a good game,” said Buonagurio. “We were absolutely exhausted; everybody was on their last legs and they (the Jags) were pretty good. But we controlled the game and worked as a team.”
Buonagurio was happy to get to play in Philly – his future home for four years with the Dragons.
“It was cool be in the city,” he said. “It was a preview of what the next four years will be for me. It was nice to play some of the teams in the area.”
Buonagurio said his team had never played Box Lacrosse before. He enjoyed playing in front of the small goal and said the high shots were the toughest.
“I have never even seen those pads before,” he said. “No one on the team had ever played with the Box rules and we didn’t know what to do on offense and defense.
“We just played lacrosse. I just tried to take up as much space as I could. It’s very different with the pads – they pick up 75 percent of the net. You just have no body part to block the high shots. You hope your chest gets in the way if they come down on a breakaway.”
Buonagurio credited Padula with coaching the team and his teammates for staying together. Buonagurio also said Duxbury has high expectations for the 2012 season.
“We have all been together since 3rd grade and we know each other so well. It worked out pretty well with him coaching us.
“This year we want to win the Massachusetts state championship. That matters the most, but we also want to win all our out-of-state games and get some national credit.”
Laxachusetts coach and team chaperone Mike Connelly said the Laxachusetts team enjoyed the experience of playing Box Lacrosse in Philadelphia. He noted that most of the players competed in the Philly Showcase Tournament in November.
“NXT puts on wonderful tournaments,” Connelly said. “The Philly Showcase in November was the best event I have ever sent my Laxachusetts kids to. I did not think any event could surpass the King of the Hill, but the Philly Showcase was incredible. NXT is a great group of people who put out a great product.
“They (the Laxachusetts players) really impressed me with how they did things. They showed lots of maturity and lots of competitiveness and lots of joy. They really embraced what they were doing and supported and enjoyed one another. As a parent, I felt very lucky to see my son a part of it.”