UMASS & YALE
The Fighting Clams program restarted its 2018 Summer after the week-long 4th of July hiatus at the familiar local setting of UMASS Amherst and Yale. Our program has attended each school’s tournaments for well over a decade, and while the teams in attendance have changed, the overall value of each event has remained constant.
The UMASS and Yale tournaments generally have a different set of college coaches in attendance, and with the colleges represented, you can tell a great deal about where we are in the recruiting cycle. The majority of the coaches are from D3 schools who for a variety of reasons recruit a little slower, or D1 and D2 schools who attend to try to pluck those diamonds in the rough that reveal themselves later on as well. College coaches know that public school players often attend these events in greater numbers, because prep school players have already been done with school and done with their seasons for over a month, whereas many public school players (especially those advancing in the MIAA playoffs) have been done for just a couple weeks. It’s notable that over a half dozen public school Clams were playing in their first Clam event of the summer, and for even larger number of prep school players, it was their last.
Interestingly, while the quantity of college coaches in attendance vs. non-New England tournaments was somewhat lower, the quality of the viewing experience for coaches seems to have been as high, if not higher. In all honestly, I have heard from a higher number of coaches about players coming out of this past weekend than any of those who preceded it. The reason is simple: only a certain number of Clams in each class should play D1 lacrosse, and many of these are already committed to doing so; in turn, only a handful of coaches are locking in on certain players to facilitate D1 placement at this point. But the vast majority of Clams can compete at high end academic schools like Trinity or Connecticut College or Oberlin and St. Lawrence. The list goes on and on…there were lots of high academic schools’ coaches watching the boys this past weekend, and it’s decidedly clear they liked what they saw.
At 14-4-2 overall, the Clams once again displayed regional prominence. In addition to our record, this could also be deciphered by watching the number of coaches watching our players of recruiting age. Competitive victories vs. local adversaries such as Laxachusetts, Team Central, Home Grown and Boneyard once again solidified our standing regionally, just a close losses to the NH Tomahawks and another Laxachusetts squad reminded us that the margin between us and our competitors is narrow, and the edge we have must continue to be earned with hard work and perseverance.
All that said, winning more than three times as many games as we lost is a success by any measure. This past weekend was a very strong one for the Clam program, and all participants should be encouraged and motivated to continue our winning ways.
Clams 2020/2021 (4-0)
Win 16-1 vs. Seven Hills
Win 7-4 vs. CT Rhinos
Win 14-1 vs. Top Dog
Win 5-2 vs. Laxachusetts
The 2020/2021 Clams had themselves a day at the Umass Summer classic this past weekend, scoring over four times as many goals as their opponents on the day. It was a blast to be a part of! Our great play all started from the face-off X and plays in the middle of the field. Jackson Katz (Westborough HS) was an absolute stud, not only winning 61.5% of his draws at the X but also adding 7 goals to his performance. It hard to overstate the contributions he made to the squad! Tyler Zanini (Hopkinton HS) must have had a ball-magnet in his stick with his first-time ground ball rate being at least 80%; If a ball was on the ground, Zanini was all over it and his heads up play in transition produced 1 goal and 1 assist to go along with the numerous ground balls. Our great play only started with the midfield but ended with our attack unit putting the ball in the net. Our attack tallied 24 of the total 56 points on the day. Nick Campagone (East Catholic HS) was a pure finisher with 7 goals, while Paul D’Eramo (Burlington HS) and Tim Blue (St. Sebastian’s) showed their balance with 7 points apiece. Our defense in all honesty didn’t see too much action on the day with our offense keeping the pressure on, but when they were challenged, they stepped up to the plate. Magnus Miller (Groton) improved greatly throughout the day, proving himself a challenge to any offensive player. While two out of the four games were in hand by the end of the first half, the Clams also knew how to close out the closer games too, making critical plays to pull away at the end of each of these games.
Going 4-0 is never easy, at any tournament. It is always to commended! And while truth be told, I wish this team had drawn a bit of a tougher schedule, they clearly took advantage of the opportunity and excelled. As I looked up and down the roster, nearly every player is set to have a more challenging next tournament (some considerably so). And if they keep doing some of the things we saw in Amherst, they’ll have success wherever they go!
Clams 2021 (1-2-1)
Win 6-2 vs. Top Strung
Loss 5-3 vs. Laxachusetts
Loss 9-2 vs. CT Rhinos
Tie 7-7 vs. Top Dog
The Clams 2021 team finished up the UMass Mid-Summer Classic with a record of 1-2-1. The Clams started the day strong with a 6-2 win over Top Strung. Emmett Lyne (Wellesley HS) and Eli Kaplan (Dover-Sherborn HS) each a 1 goal and 1 assist in the game, while goal keeper Steve Cohen (Lawrence Academy) held the opponent scoreless in the second half with a strong defense in front of him. In their second game, despite a spirited late 2nd half surge, the Clams dropped to a strong Laxachusetts squad by a final of 3-5. Remy Creighton (Oliver Ames) battled for this team at the face-off X winning multiple possessions for his team. After a more lopsided game #3 loss, the ’21’s rallied in their final game and battled a tough Albany based Top Dog team to a 7-7 tie. Colin Eaton (Acton-Boxboro HS) had three points, and both goal keepers, Chris Perri (Lawrence Academy), & Stephen Cohen (Lawrence Academy), had 7 saves. Defensive stars Cole Johnston (Littleton HS) down low, and Elliot Do (Rivers) at LSM, made prominent contributions in this game, as they had throughout the day.
All in all, the 2021’s found themselves appropriately challenged in the Umass 2021 bracket. Right now, I would say we fit in against those teams, and we are going to push this group hard to get a point where we stand out. It’s well within our grasp!
Clams 2019-2020 (2-1-1)
Loss 6-5 vs. NH Tomahawks
Win 8-7 vs. Albany Power
Tie 6-6 vs. Team CT
Win 6-4 vs. HGR
The 2019-2020 Clams had a solid day, going 2-1-1, with every game’s outcome decided by no more than two goals. The team’s lone loss came in the first day of the game vs. NH Tomahawks, but the team improved drastically throughout the day. Their second game of the day, again a big, strong Albany Power team loaded was talent, was the day’s clear high point. Coming off a couple tournaments that hadn’t completely gone the way he’d hoped, Charlie Ballou (Moses Brown) exploded to lead the offense with 7 points (5 g, 2 a) on the day. It was great to see this Rhode Island based attackman find his rhythm when his team, and the program, really needed it! There were seven other players with multiple points on the day, including Adam Canfield (Cushing) who added 4 points (2 a, 2g) while going 62.5% at the face off X. Not a face off man by nature, Adam has stepped in admirably and capably since our other 2019 face off men have been dropping like flies (all three have been injured at one point this summer; one we have not seen yet). To have four one goal games with a healthy set of coaches watching was just what the doctor ordered for this group of 2019/2020’s. I personally spoke to coaches from Trinity, Connecticut College, Roger Williams, Bard, Oberlin, Umass-Lowell, Hartford, Umass and Providence on the sidelines alone. Overall, it was as healthy a group of coaches as I’ve seen at Umass in some time, and the players that chose to stay close to home on this beautiful Saturday were seen by many, and most certainly took advantage of the opportunity.
Clams 2020 (4-0, Bracket Champion)
Win 11-0 vs. Matrix
Win 4-2 vs. LI Empire
Win 8-3 vs. 4 Leaf
Win 5-4 vs. Boneyard
For the second consecutive summer, the 2020 Fighting Clams won its age bracket at the Yale Bulldog Bash. On the campus of the 2018 Division I National Champion, the 2020 Clams fought through a competitive slate of games against regional club opponents. The Clam pack faced off against Matrix (11-0 win), LI Empire (4-2 win), 4 Leaf (8-3 win), and, for the divisional championship, host club Boneyard (5-4 win). The team became more cohesive and dogged as it marched toward its championship game with Boneyard, a talented squad that had won all their previous games by 10 or more points.
As the final scores would suggest, the Clams defense anchored the team throughout the day. The team’s goalies played well throughout, but they seemed to become more confident and capable as the day wore on. Connor Nydegger (Bridgewater-Raynham HS) posted an impressive 86.7% save percentage and Sean Henderson (Franklin HS) was just as impressive with a 61.1% save percentage and some huge saves in the second half of the championship game against Boneyard. JJ Jablonowski (St. John’s Shrewsbury) emerged as the leader of the defense and the team. He chased down opponents like a junkyard dog and caused countless turnovers throughout the day. More impressively, he took a leadership role on the team and made sure the Clams were ready to play before each game. Matthew Petitto (Wakefield HS) and Archie Perry (Belmont Hill) made opponents uncomfortable all day long with their aggressive play.
Offensively, Tim Dowd (Pingree, 4G), Jackson Katz (Westborough HS, 2G, 3A), and John Alfano (Westford Academy, 2G,) broke down opposing defenses with powerful dodges from up the midfield and opened the offense for others. Attackmen Matt Curran (Westford Academy, 2G, 4A), Christian Willett (Duxbury HS, 4G, 1A), and Wyatt Blackshaw (Lawrence Academy, 3G, 2A) settled and directed the team’s offense throughout the day. It was a roster of talented players who enjoyed playing together and should feel proud of their achievement this past Sunday.
Clams 2019 (3-1)
Loss 7-4 vs. LI Dodgers
7-2 Win vs. LI Empire
6-2 Win vs. Team 91 Tristate
7-6 Win vs. Team Central
The 2019 Clams had a solid showing at Yale this past Sunday. After a slow start in the 8am game, where our team lost the eventual Division Champions, the team went on to finish the day 3-1, earning 3rd place in the most challenging bracket of the tournament. A selfless offense, complimented by an aggressive defense, allowed the Clams to succeed with tremendous proficiency. Matt Gill (Duxbury HS/Wesleyan) led the team in points with 7, with 1 goal and 6 assists, showing his vision and ability to share the ball. Jake Erickson (Acton-Boxboro HS/Ithaca) led the team in goals with 6, followed by Jake Tellers (East Catholic HS/Quinnipiac) who tallied 5 goals on the day. Tellers also earned the honor of competing in the final game of the day’s intense Braveheart, where he took advantage of his physical strength and skill as he overpowered his opponent, breaking the tie and giving the Clams a hard-earned win.
On the defensive end, Boyd Hall (St. Mark’s/Quinnipiac) and Dale Dunning (Pomfret) led the charge with numerous caused turnovers. Their aggressive style of play was always backed up by the impressive goalie play from both Pat Mahoney (Rivers) and Duncan Gillis (Duxbury HS), who both had timely saves throughout the tournament. Another pole who deserves recognition is Nick Hayman (St. John’s Prep). Without a designated face off guy on roster, Hayman was happy to step up and capably fill the void. Not a FOGO by any means, his ability to do what was best for the team was admirable and gave the 2019’s the opportunities they needed to be successful.
For a few Clam juniors, this may have been their last outing in the orange and blue. If it was, they should certainly feel proud of their last minutes as Fighting Clams…they were very good ones!