Local collegiate lacrosse teams get set for season

NASHUA – The lack of snow on the ground tells you something: It’s spring season now for local colleges.

The first sport to venture out is always men’s and women’s lacrosse, and that’s no exception. The season has begun for the Rivier men’s and women’s teams, as well as the Daniel Webster men. The DWC women don’t begin their final campaign until later this month.

The Rivier men are hoping to finally reach their goal of hosting a first-round Great Northeast Athletic Conference playoff game. The Raiders lost in the first round on the road again last season after dropping a couple of key contests late, and Wednesday fell 13-9 at home in their non-conference season opener to Nichols.

“We’ve got to buckle down and we have a tougher road as far as our non-conference games,” Raiders coach Jay Delanoy said. “A couple of games are a big step up. But that will make us more battle-hardened when we begin our conference games and that will help us be better ready than in the past for what’s in our conference.”

Delanoy’s Raiders have some of their top offensive players back on attack, including leading scorer Colby Larsen out of Windham. Larsen was a freshman sensation a year ago with 48 goals and 13 assists, and led the team the other night with three goals.

This year, though, Delanoy envisions Larsen as being more of a quarterback, as he’s been anointed a co-captain.

“He’s going to have more of a role in making sure we’re running the offense that we want to run,” he said.

Also back on attack are all-conference Dorchester junior Liam Ryan (35 goals, 19 assists) and junior co-captain Joe Kelland (22 assists).

Tyler Tambouris, a junior, anchors midfield while Amherst sophomore Ken Whittier, formerly of Bishop Guertin, is the top defenseman back.

That brings up another change – in goal. Four-year starter Clark Plummer has graduated, and now the job belongs to Peabody, Mass. Sophomore Matt Cloutman, who played sparingly a year ago.

“What Clark gave us was incredible consistency,” Delanoy said. “Clark can make the great save and he got to practice all last year with college level guys.”

The Raiders and Eagles won’t face each other for one final time this season, as it was up in the air in the fall when the schedule was finalized as to whether the Eagles would have a team to due the impending closure and departure of former coach Bill Consentino.

But have no fear, the Eagles, NECC semifinalists the last two years, are still here, and already have two games under their belt. They picked up their first win of the season the other night under new coach Nicholas Sampson, 21-5 over Green Mountain College at their sometime home away from home, Raider Field.

Tre Mason, out of Kelowna, B.C., scored six goals while Gavin Abbott had four goals and three assists. Merrimack’s Sean Donahue had four goals and two asssists. Last Saturday they traveled to face Albertus Magnus and fell 11-8.

The offense is there. Mason has 10 goals on the year, while fellow sophomores Abbott (six) and Tanner Todd (five) are next.

Senior goalie James Bushey has a 50 percent save rate. The Eagles have a game Saturday in the chill at UMass-Boston and then don’t play until March 18. Their 12-game season ends in late April, and it’s a small five-team conference, with four opponents: Becker,Wheelock, Mitchell and Regis.

The River women, meanwhile, have also played two games already, falling to non-conference foes Colby-Sawyer 19-6 and Regis 14-9. Pelham freshman Amanda Barton has five goals in the two games while fellow frosh Sally Kennedy (Billerica, Mass.) is next with four. So you get the idea it’s a young team. How about 10 freshmen? The only seniors are Jane Farrell on attack and Jackie Russo on defense. Merrimack junior midfielder Lauren Goodspeed has a pair of goals.

After Thursday’s scheduled game vs. Framingham State – the third of five home games to start the season – the Raiders are off until