It’s a rather disappointing and unhappy truth, but the Londonderry High School boys’ lacrosse program has never had a varsity team make it as far as the Division I or Class L state championship match.
Oh, there has never been a shortage of talented or determined athletes in the program, which was started soon after LHS opened back in the late 1970’s by Tom Sawyer. But it’s true, the Lancers have never quite managed to make the final few tournament steps to a title contest to face a loaded-for-bear opponent like the Bishop Guertin Cardinals, Pinkerton Academy Astros, or Hanover High Marauders.
The 2017 Londonderry High lax squad was an extremely strong one under the tutelage of coach Sean LeBlanc, but that third-seeded Lancer bunch had its title hopes dashed by the upstart, sixth-ranked Exeter High Blue Hawks in the Division I quarterfinals.
There are a bunch of players back from that strong Londonderry crew, but the locals did lose a number of key seniors to graduation, and LeBlanc also made his exit.
Londonderry High lacrosse and football sub-varsity coach Roger Sampson – a fiery and proud former United States Marine – has taken over the helm and feels that his crew’s strongest facet will be its defensive unit.
The Lancers will need to be right on top of their game again this spring to compete with the likes of the two-time defending champion Bishop Guertin Cardinals – who have been in every single state title game since 2005 and won no less than nine championships during that long span – as well as the arch-rival Pinkerton Astros and those Marauders from Hanover High.
Since 2005, Guertin, Pinkerton, and Hanover are the only teams to collect Division I or Class L state championships.
“We are young, and the strength of our team is on defense. But I think with our new offensive schemes we will surprise a lot of people,” said Sampson. “We have strong talent at midfield and attack, and they are responding well to our coaching. We expect to challenge for the championship, and that is the only message we are giving our players.”
The Lancers’ first step into competitive play this spring was an impressive one, as they went a perfect 4-0 at the Lawrence Central Catholic (Mass.) Jamboree.
The locals have three returning senior starters including midfielder Nate Andrews and defenders Corey Hicks and Troy Knight. Their fellow 12th grader Jacob Dionne has been lost to a knee injury which occurred during winter play, but he will be around the team this spring providing a supportive voice and some leadership.
Other varsity returnees from the 2017 squad include versatile Mike McAlister and middie Connor Toth.
Londonderry also boasts six returning junior starters in attacks Anthony Federico and Jake Holland (moved from middie), midfielders Thomas Fougere, Blake Melnik, and James Cranmer, and defender Sonny Marquis.
The Lancers’ returning sophomore starters include attack Cole Keegan (moved up from middie), midfielder Jeff Wiedenfeld, and defender Kyle Proulx.
The squad’s goaltending duties will be handled by last year’s varsity backup Josh Harmon and varsity newcomer Ross Carroll. Both young men are juniors.
Freshmen who have made the varsity and will aim to make significant contributions are middies Aidan Dennis and Jack Kester along with attack Isaac McCune.
Vital depth is added by seniors Jack Wanders (middie), Connor Warren (middie), Mason Smith, and Ryan O’Neil (both attacks), juniors Patrick Murphy (middie), Derek Felix (attack), and Nathan Gehris (defense), and sophomores Devin Rheaume (defense), Derek Mower (middie), and Jake McEachern (middie).
“We have increased our coaching staff numbers across the board to really work the fundamentals at every level, and this year we are starting a middle school team,” said coach Sampson. “The future is very bright for Londonderry lacrosse, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it all. Our players are excited, gung-ho, and highly motivated. They have dedicated themselves in every aspect of the game and it shows.”
The LHS crew gets its season officially started next Monday, April 9, at home against the Salem High Blue Devils, weather and field conditions permitting.