Historic season for Boys Lacrosse

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Linda Heisler

The boys lacrosse team after their first scrimmage in Florida

Joe Heisler, Sports editor

The West Milford Boys Lacrosse team is coming off a year for the books. Following the first conference championship in school history and the best season since the 2015 season, the team looked to bigger goals for the 2020 campaign.

Fearlessly leading the team once again this season was head coach, Gary Stoll. Stoll has led the team to various accomplishments in the past such as a county final appearance in 2016 and the previously mentioned conference championship a season ago. Stoll is also the offensive coordinator on the football team and an assistant coach for the wrestling team, so he is familiar with leading sports teams effectively.

Assisting Stoll this season were first year coaches Bruce Bialkin and Tim Mickens. Bialkin has previously served as a volunteer coach with the team and led the defense for the coming season. Mickens was an assistant on the football this past fall and coached the JV team.

The captains of this year’s team were seniors Joey Heisler, Brandon Cerone, and John Gaffney, as well as junior, Casey Fagan. These four players were all three-year lettermen and were all important components to the team during last year’s season.

The strength of this team was on the offensive side of the ball. Despite graduating the team’s leading scorer Ray Gorny, the team still returned a host of offensive talent. Fagan returned following a sophomore season that saw him score 50 goals and 21 assists, leading him to a first team-conference season. 

Also returning were sophomores Dylan Connors and Aidan Bolger following an impressive freshman campaign. Connors scored 23 goals and 26 assists, as well as a team leading 96 ground balls. Bolger returned after having 36 goals and 14 assists with 76 ground balls. Each earned second team all-conference honors last season. Junior Matt Dellapi was also back following a first team all-conference season as a fogo (faceoff getoff) following a 14-point performance as a sophomore. Players looking to contribute to the offense are junior Brodie Buttery and sophomores Ashton Stymacks and Tyler Heres.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Highlanders on paper looked like they had a lot of spots to fill, but that was truly not the case. Despite graduating three out of the four starting long sticks from a season ago, as well as two defensive middies, the Highlanders returned a ton of players. Heisler and Cerone both started the past two seasons, Cerone earning second team all-conference. Junior Mark Keeser and sophomore Zander Mansanko looked to step into larger roles this season after earning their varsity letters last year. Senior Josh Curving also looked to help on the defensive side of the ball, joining the team after an all-conference season at PCTI.

The Highlander’s return a trio of goalies in Gaffney, junior, Ryan Kirwan, and sophomore, Ralph Turre. The trio looked to split time in the cage after all having impressive seasons a year ago.

The team, after a dominant conference performance a season ago, has been bumped up a confidence level this season to the Gibbs division. Despite the improval of competition, the team still had aspirations of being back to back conference champions as well as winning the first county title in school history.

Despite the season being cancelled, next year’s team looks poised to make their own run at the Conference and County title. The team is only graduating five seniors, with only three of those players being returning varsity lettermen. On top of that, the team returns the whole offensive unit that was expected to contribute this season. Despite not having a season, the future looks bright for the Highlanders.