By Ben Tarhan email@example.com
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — The North Tonawanda boys lacrosse team has high expectations for the 2014 season. A year after finishing 2-13, the Jacks return nearly everyone from last season’s team, and second year head coach Andy Behm is optimistic.
“We are way more talented, a lot faster all over the field,” Behm said. “But I think what might play against us is our lack of experience.”
The one key loss from last season is longstick midfielder Joey Hefferon, who is now playing at Niagara County Community College.
But the Jacks return a few talented upperclassmen. Senior longstick midfielder Jon Zellner was a member of the second team All-Class B team last season and returns this season, along with senior midfielder Jake Ferry, junior defenseman Ryan McDonough and senior goalie Justin Restorff.
In the Jacks first game on March 21, they pulled out a fourth quarter comeback against Lew-Port to win 6-5.
“I liked the fact that our guys fought really hard,” Behm said. “It was our first time outside and we didn’t get to do a lot of the stuff you typically get to do outside.”
North Tonawanda has been practicing in its gym due to the frigid Western New York conditions, which has prevented them from working on long passes, ground balls and shooting.
Against Lew-Port, the Jacks took 30 shots but only six found the back of the net. Behm thinks if they can clean up their shooting, they will be a tough team to beat.
The St. Joe’s boys lacrosse team’ schedule is the toughest the Marauders have ever had. That’s no accident.
“With this difficult schedule we play a number of top 100 teams from inside and outside the area,” said 12th year head coach Peter Hudecki. “Hopefully with that, that will push our guys to play at the high level that they are capable of doing. We have a lot of skilled athletes and skilled lacrosse players.”
The Marauders graduated a handful of talented players last season, including first team All-WNY defender John Carroll. Carroll now plays at John Carroll. Other key players who graduated include attackman Mike Hubert, defender James Deakin, face-off specialist Andrew Pawenski and midfielder Jack Balkin.
There is no dearth of talent returning though. From the All-Catholic first team, senior midfielder and captain Mark Naska and senior longstick midfielder James Bassett. Junior attack Dominic Perna was named to the All-Catholic second team last year while senior defender Dennis Gilbert, junior midfielder Myles Young and senior midfielder Nigel Davis were all honorable mentions.
Hudecki thinks his team’s biggest strength will be its depth.
“We have a lot of guys that are going to contribute throughout the year,” Hudecki said. “We are pretty excited about the depth we have at defense. We have six defenders and we can almost start any six of them and be happy with what we are doing.”
The Marauders opened their season March 25 with an 11-3 victory over Williamsville East.Follow @tonanewssports on Twitter for complete high school sports coverage.