New Canaan was one of the biggest success stories in tristate boys lacrosse last year.
The Rams won the postseason championship one of the region’s most competitive leagues, Connecticut’s Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference, by beating Ridgefield 11-9 in the title game at Brien McMahon’s Jack Casagrande Field.
The game proved to be a microcosm of the regular season. New Canaan outscored Ridgefield 10-4 in the second half after trailing 5-1 at halftime.
During the regular season, New Canaan won 16 straight after starting the year 3-3. The win streak ended with an 11-5 loss to Darien in the Class M state title game, back at Casagrande Field.
The Rams start 2013 with a much different look.
Among the graduated are FCIAC tournament MVP and star goaltender Tom Carey (Bryant), attackman/midfielders Matt Blasco (St. Joseph’s) and Peter Kraus (Michigan), midfielder John Brainard (UMass) and defenseman Kevin McDonough (Penn).
Then, midway through the fall, coach Alex Whitten made the surprising announcement that he was stepping down after five years at the helm. Former New Canaan standout Chip Buzzeo is the Rams’ new sheriff in town.
So change is in the air in New Canaan.
But NC once again does have a strong senior group.
Among its members is attackman Pete Johnson.
The lefty attackman, who will be heading to Division III power Denison, has tremendous stick skills and a good lacrosse IQ.
Johnson and his teammates have been working hard in the offseason as the Rams prepare for a shot at defending their FCIAC crown.
What have you been doing to get ready for the season?
This fall and winter, we’ve been playing box lacrosse in our high school gym on Saturdays and Sundays. With the help of Canadian Coaches/Pro Box players, we have been trying to integrate the box game into our field game.
Besides box, a few teammates and I have been shooting everyday after school, and working out with D1 Prep Training (in Greenwich) three times week.
How does your schedule look, what games are you looking forward to most, and who are some of your scrimmages against?
We scrimmage Avon Old Farms a week before our our season opener, which will definitely prepare us for the tough schedule we have.
I am looking forward to our FCIAC games, which include Darien, Wilton and Greenwich. I am also looking forward to out-of-state games against teams like John Jay (N.Y.), Somers (N.Y.), and Ridgewood (N.J.).
What player or players on your team do you think will surprise some people this season?
We graduated 19 seniors last year, so there will be plenty of new guys seeing a lot of playing time.
Junior attackman Harry Stanton, midfielder Teddy Bossidy, defenseman/LSM Mike Root and FOGO Mike Hennessey will have big roles on the team this year.
Seniors like midfielder Griffin White, attackman/midfielder Austin Nader and defenseman Tommy Costigan are also guys that have the potential to surprise people.
What do you think the strength of your team will be this year?
The strength of our team this year will definitely be our defense. We return All-American Eric Persky (Penn) and Johnny Rhudy (West Point) who are two of the best poles in the state. Adding depth to the defense are guys like Tommy Costigan and Mike Root ,who will both have big roles on the team this year.
How do you view the race in your league and who do you think some of the contending teams will be?
As always, the FCIAC competition is going to be extremely tough. Greenwich returns most of its team from last year and is going to be tough. As always, teams like Darien, Ridgefield and Wilton rebuild and have strong teams. I think we are going to be a very good team, and we look forward to defending our FCIAC championship from last year.
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