Coming into the 2014-15 season, the Worcester Prep boys lacrosse team didn’t really know what to expect.
The Mallards had one healthy senior — the other a surefire captain out for the year due to injury.
Youth, injuries and the continuation of the Prep program adjusting to the Maryland Independent Lacrosse League.
Playing in-conference teams like Calverton and then cross-town rival Stephen Decatur and Maryland powerhouse Bullis school, the young Mallards learned a lot.
“Those are our three losses,” head coach Kevin Gates said of Prep’s 12-4 season.
The fourth was to Calverton again, 17-8 in the M.I.L.L semifinal game on May 6.
“I hope that you they would learn from it,” Gates said. “I want to play more challenging games. I want every — it would be great if we could have every game be a one-goal game. I’d lose a lot of hair, but that’s what you want. Win or lose, you’re in a battle.”
But for the 27 returning players, it was a growing where young talented shined.
The leader was junior Wyatt Richins, who has done it on the offensive end for the Mallards for a few years now.
He totaled 51 goals and 41 assists.
“I think this year was definitely a grind,” Richins said. “We’ve got so many new kids, so many new faces, I think it was more of a building year into next year just because we are so young and I think really improved a lot.”
Behind Richins in points was a freshman Sam Cantello, who totaled 27 goals, 24 assists and missed five games.
Cantello said the biggest adjustment was decision making since the game is so much faster.
“It was a good year,” he said. “I learned a lot. It’s like a whole ‘nother level coming from middle school. This year was more of a building year for us, but next year, we’ll have a really good team.”
Gates said Cantello could have really set a high number of stats for a freshman player if he hadn’t gotten hurt.
“They had great years,” Gates said. “If they didn’t get hurt, I would have really liked our chances. They’re going to be two of the better players that play here during their careers.”
Cantello wasn’t the only freshman that impressed Gates. Tucker Brown had 26 goals and 14 assists, but he missed four games too.
Those two freshman, along with sophomore Pat Petrera, who netted 32 goals and 10 assists, are the future of the Mallards’ offense.
“We got Sam coming back,” Richins said. “Tucker, he was a huge help this year — one of our best players on offense. Pat Petrera and Brendan Miller really started to step it up at the end. … We’re really looking forward to everybody coming back next year.”
Junior faceoff man and defensive midfielder Ross Dickerson said playing that tough competition made the young guys better and seasoned the older players too, while gelling them together with the freshmen and sophomores.
“It was definitely awesome to play some of the better teams, having Bullis come down to play us and playing Calverton in the M.I.L.L.,” Dickerson said. “It’s just an awesome experience for all of us to get better and play better teams.”
But the Mallards were without one player the whole season.
Senior Sam Deeley injured his back before the games started and Prep’s senior tally went from two to only Will Pedigo.
“He came from never playing before to just being a student of the game,” Gates said. “He went from a guy that I thought athletically could defensive midfield, to after the first practice, immediately on first midfield.”
The senior didn’t play during the youth leagues, but still could throw and shoot with both hands and would have been a leader.
Deeley led as much as he could, coming out to every game and was an assistant coach at the Bishop McNamara game because none of Gates’ assistants could make it.
“He would have bene a huge part of our team,” Gates said.
Nonetheless, the Mallards return plenty of now experienced players and are looking forward to bright 2015-16 season.
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