Sturgis East Lacrosse makes big strides
By Mike Richard
Last season, the Sturgis East boys lacrosse team made a postseason appearance for the first time in its fiveyear history. This season, coach Andrew Watts hopes his veteran Storm squad will return to the playoffs and make a bigger splash in the tournament.
After a 5-5 regular season finish in 2016, Sturgis was defeated in the first round of the Division 3 South Sectionals to Old Colony Voke, 11-9.
Watts, the only coach in the five-year history of the program, is assisted by Eric Porteus. He noted that Sturgis played a JV schedule the first two years and then a mixed JV-varsity schedule the third year. Last year was the team’s first full varsity schedule.
“It’s been night and day since the program first started when we had 24 players come out for the first team and 18 of them had never played lacrosse before,” Watts noted of the early days of the program.
The squad has made some significant strides thanks to the dedication of their veteran players.
“Our goal is to qualify for a tournament game and win one,” said Watts. “The seniors feel this is their time and they want to change the outlook and the attitude of the program.”
The Storm boasts a group of five veteran seniors who have made the program the success it is today.
“Without them, the team wouldn't be where it is today,” said Watts. “They have grown drastically the past few years.”
Leading the way are captains Samuel Smith, Aiden Andrews, Nick Pinard and Sawyer Gibbons, with each bringing some diverse talents to the field.
Smith, a defensive standout, has been an outstanding player on the field, but has also excelled in the classroom, according to his coach.
“He is the most respectful and thoughtful person I have ever coached,” said Watts. “He’s a great leader and he’s always willing to help everybody and anybody.”
Attackman Andrews, who has played lacrosse for many years, has exhibited enthusiasm for the program and has also organized the lead in helping the team obtain new helmets.
“We don’t have a booster club or anything along those lines for athletic funding,” said Watts, “but Aidan takes pride in not only improving himself, but the team as well.”
Pinard, a captain for the second year, initially volunteered to be goalie for the squad his freshman year. He brings intensity to the field and to the pre-game huddle.
“Nick has that chip on his shoulder that the team really needs,” said Watts. “He’s always been the guy on the team that can get the best out of his teammates.”
Gibbons, the final captain, has had that role dating back to his sophomore season. A mid-fielder, he was the league MVP last year and was also a basketball and soccer all-star this past season.
“He pushes his teammates to improve and better themselves for the sake of the team,” said Watts. “He’s led the team in scoring the past three years and his leadership has definitely rubbed off onto the other captains.”
Two other seniors who have made key contributions to the team include midfielder Vinny Collucci. “His extreme intensity and constant mental and physical toughness is something the other players see and try to bring to their game,” said Watts. In addition, newcomer midfielder Brian Hassan “has been an extremely hard worker and has always given 100 percent at improving his game.”
Among the juniors who will be looked upon to continue their fine play are midfielder Jake Cooper, attack Luan Ferreria and defender Carl Furnier.
Sophomore players include midfielders Bobby Walsh, Franz Abagat and Mason Martin, and attacks Aidan Wilcox, Ethan Sirhal and Andrew Orciuch.
However, it’s the freshman squad that has attracted the most attention from the coaching staff.
“This is by far the best freshman class that I’ve ever had the chance to coach,” Watts said. “They all have experience, they’re willing to learn and they know the mechanics of playing the sport.”
Of the freshmen, two of them – attack Noah Smith and midfielder Grady Andrews – have brothers who are seniors on the squad.
Other freshmen players include midfielders Sam Wilson and Jared Linhares, defenders Billy Doyle and Max Quidley and attack Rohan Jarvis. —Mike Richard can be contacted by email at mikerichard0725@ gmail.com.
Senior members of the Sturgis East boys’ lacrosse team include (front) Brian Hassan and Nick Pinard, (rear) Sam Smith, Sawyer Gibbons and Aiden Andrews. Missing from the photo is senior Vinny Collucci. [PHOTO BY MIKE RICHARD]