Thursday’s game against Staples finally marks the beginning of the Greenwich boys lacrosse team’s season, which is starting later than most squads in the state. The Cardinals were in quarantine for two weeks, after several players tested positive for COVID-19, but the team is back in action and especially eager to make its mark.
“We are ready to go,” said Will Montesi, one of the Cardinals’ five senior captains. “We had the two-week pause just as we started to get going and now the team is ready to play. We’ve been waiting to go since spring of last year.”
Greenwich returned to practice this past Monday, following a 14-day quarantine and has had to catch-up quickly, as it opens its season this week against Staples (Thursday) and Fairfield Prep (Saturday) – two traditionally tough opponents.
“With the FCIAC and other teams in the state, you have so many competitive teams that you need every second you can get to prepare,” Greenwich coach Bobby Lutz said. “We all lost last season and now you try to pick up everything that was lost in seven practices, which we had before we went into quarantine. The good news is we had plenty of time to prepare and scout for the games.”
In 2019, the Cardinals were a senior-laden squad, so the seniors on this spring’s squad were sophomores. The current Cardinals juniors and sophomores will be competing in their first varsity season.
“Most of the teams in the FCIAC are like that, because of what happened last year with the season being cancelled,” Lutz said. “We have so many young players and are so inexperienced, but we are only going to get better as the season goes on.”
Montesi, Chris Cataldo, John Cataldo, Jack Cook and Jimmy O’Malley are the Cardinals’ senior captains that will be relied upon to for leadership throughout the season.
“Our captains are a good group of experienced players,” Lutz said. “They are so happy to be out there and they are like teachers to the younger players on the team. You see them talking to the younger kids and coaching the kids up.”
Montesi will be looked to for production on both ends of the field as a midfielder. Cook, junior Flynn Milledge, junior James Pilc and Quinn Warwick (junior) are among some of the midfielders the Cards will rely upon.
“We are a really strong midfield group,” Montesi said. “Everyone at every position is a leader and we have some powerful juniors.”
In the fall, Montesi will play football at the United States Military Academy. He said he may play outside linebacker or on the defensive line.
“Playing football at West Point, it’s surreal,” said Montesi, who also served as one of the captains of Greenwich’s football team. “I dreamed of doing it my whole life. It’s what I’ve been waiting for ever since I was a little kid, going to West Point to watch football games.”
Like Montesi, Cook is both an offensive and defensive midfielder.
“We have a really deep group this year, we are going to have five or six guys contribute and probably two equal lines every game,” Cook said. “Our midfield is going to be one of the strengths of the team.”
Despite getting a bit of a late start due to the quarantine, the Cardinals believe they are a contender.
“I think we are going to come out firing in our first game and a lot of people are going to be surprised,” Cook said. “We want to win a championship and we feel we are in a good position to do so.”
Chris Cataldo returns as one of Greenwich’s main defenders, a position that O’Malley and junior Roy Knutson should also lead.
“Especially with the two-week quarantine that we suffered during the preseason, we are all just pumped to be out there,” said Chris Cataldo, who was also one of Greenwich’s ice hockey captains this past winter. “Our first game against Staples is a statement game.”
Indeed, the Cardinals feel they have plenty to prove.
“This year we are trying to make a statement and we feel this could be a team that brings a state title back to Greenwich,” Chris Cataldo said. With this team, we are going to show what we could have done last year and what we will do this year.”
Senior Will Clemens and junior Charlie Zolin are the goalies. Hugo Mark and Hank Minchin are senior short stick midfielders and Matthew Trimmer (sophomore) and Cory Tautel (junior) are among the squad’s long stick midfielders.
“Our ‘D’ is really strong this year,” O’Malley said. “We are talking a bunch and the team chemistry is great. We are thrilled about the teams we are playing at the beginning of the season, because it is a way for us to send a message around the state.”
Each team in the FCIAC has athletes who are forces offensively.
“We’re a team that feels really comfortable on defense,” O’Malley said. “Preparing for the top offensive players is going to be important. Our defensive communication stands out to me.”
At attack, John Cataldo, junior Bryce Metalios, sophomore Brian Collins and junior Wesley Zolin are among the players, who hope to ignite the team on offense.
“It is a great honor to be a captain and compete with these kids, they are working hard,” John Cataldo said. “I am impressed with our group. We have a lot of depth this year, not one star player – a lot of players, who are equivalent and we will move the ball well. This is a good program that’s had a lot of success in the FCIAC and the state and we want to continue that tradition.”
Greenwich’s faceoff men are junior Quinn Warwick and senior George Papanicolauo. Lutz’s varsity coaching staff includes assistants Jeremy White, Chris Andrea and Alex Lerchen. Frank Wells is the junior varsity coach.
“We have two tough openers and it will tell us where we are,” Lutz said. “It’s always the goal is to be an FCIAC and state contender. And this season, one of our goals is to play a season and stay healthy and go into the postseason healthy.”