The goal for the Staples High boys lacrosse team is, as coach Paul McNulty says, "to be a contender and prove that Staples can compete with everybody."
Last season, the Wreckers went 10-9 (8-3 in the FCIAC) and fell in the L state quarterfinals to Fairfield Prep, the eventual champion, 13-4.
With another challenging schedule ahead, the Wreckers believe they're taking substantial steps toward achieving their goal. They return 12 players who saw considerable playing time in 2012, including senior captains Jared Levi, Lance Lonergan, Quinn Mendelson and Joey Zelkowitz.
Levi, Lonergan and Mendelson make up a talented and experienced defense that includes senior Alec Yass and junior Ben Bjornson. Senior Garrett Jordan and sophomore Isaac Paparo return as long-stick midfielders.
Battling for the starting goalie spot will be junior Cole Gendels -- last year's starter -- and senior James Hines.
"That's a good kind of leadership to have," McNulty said of his returning defense. "They've played a lot. For us, they've been in a lot of big games, they've been in a lot of playoff games. You want players like that."
Zelkowitz, the Wreckers' leading scorer in 2012, is expected to spark the midfield. Senior Greg Strauss and juniors Will Johnson and Eric Zurmuehle are also returning at midfield. Junior Patrick Lesch, a starter at midfield last year, will miss the season with a hip injury.
"That's the coach's challenge, is to find the right combination," McNulty said of Staples' attack. "We have a lot of players. We have 70-something in the program now. ... We have to find those two attackmen."
"We're just finding the right combination of players," McNulty said.
Staples opens its season on Wednesday against Trinity Catholic at home.
The Wreckers' schedule features games against some of the state's best teams, including defending FCIAC champion New Canaan (April 20), defending M state champion Darien (April 23), and L state and FCIAC runner-up Ridgefield (April 16). They will also play a pair of programs from New York on the road: Mamaroneck (May 4) and St. John The Baptist (May 11).
"I try to find games that are going to challenge us," McNulty said.
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