Sophomore JT Bowdridge trying to get past Luis. Photo by David Cartledge.
The 2019 Boys Malden Lacrosse team has had a pretty rough start to the season, losing most of their players to graduation while also facing Georgetown prep in a scrimmage, who is one of the best teams in the state. Their success last season leaves high expectations for this season, with the team making the state tournament for the first time in their history last season.
The team this year still shows promise though, with head coach Jonathan Copithorne stating that during the scrimmage “their hustle and effort was there” and that overall the team was “able to run up the field with Georgetown prep,” which showed some serious effort. Copithorne also mentioned that the team is able to “control ground balls,” which he mentioned was one of the best skill to have as lacrosse players.
Last season, the team had a really successful season. Not only was it the first time the team made states, but it was also the first time the team has had a winning record. The team was knocked out in the first round to Acton-Boxborough, which was one of the best teams in the competition, and ended up making it to the state finals. Coach Copithorne mentioned how the players “played admirably” during the match, and even the opposing team’s coach congratulated them on the season and their effort during the match. That success obviously leaves high expectations for this season, with coach Copithorne saying he would “like to put themselves in a position to play in the tournament,” and would like to “Get a good seed, and ideally win a game in playoffs.”
Relationships on teams play a huge factor in their success, and the loss of a coach can always leave a toll on the relationship. Coach Copithorne is now the sole coach for the lacrosse team, having been a co-captain with coach Smith. Copithorne grew up playing lacrosse, so he has a good understanding of the game and how the players must feel. Copithorne is also a history teacher at the school, likely having most of the players as his students at some time. These have helped grow a relationship amongst the team for the past few years. Coach Copithorne mentioned how the team “Seems to like each other, and hopes they continue to.”
This season is bound to be much more challenging than any others. Not only does the team have to deal with the extreme loss of players, but they also need to deal with the pressure of making states, and performing to that ability again. In all, the team lost about seven of their players, most of which being defense. As a result, the team has been mixed around a bit, having players that are normally midfielders or attackers playing defense. On Saturday, March 23rd, the lacrosse team played Georgetown Prep and Woburn, two of the best teams in the state. Although the teams did not keep score, Coach Copithorne mentioned how “Kids who had never played before were able to compete in those games.” However, this game ended pretty poorly, with Sophomore Jared Swanson tearing his LCL. possibly being out for the season.
Although the season has shown a rocky start, the team seems to have a chance to get back on their feet. Coach Copithorne mentioned how the team has “good midfield and dodging, with senior Zachary Rufo and junior Collin Willcox,” and that the “Midfielders are the strength of the team.” He also mentioned how Zheng Yi and Corey Rufo have taken big steps offensively, showing some real promise this season. Sophomore Zaki Greige mentioned how “the more [they] play the more [they] learn something about [themselves.” The team has also shown that they have speed this season, with the players being able to keep up with the Georgetown Prep and Woburn players during the scrimmage.
The team this season is going to have to rely very heavily on their midfielders, with coach Copithorne mentioning that “midfielders are the strength of the team” and that they have an “unproven attack and a really new defense.” The team had to move around a bit to accomodate for the loss of players, and ended up moving players from their normal positions to positions they have not played. Greige, who plays LSM and defense, mentioned how “For this one [he puts his] faith in coach Copithorne because [he feels] like [they] would play best there,” and that “the changing of positions on the team is for the better but only if everyone gives it their all.” Greige also mentioned that they will have to “work to the extreme no matter what position [they] get put in because at the end of the day it’s not about [them], it’s about the team.”
This year, the varsity team has seen a large shift in the roster, with a large number of players graduating and many players changing positions as a result. One of which being Junior Kevin Ivany. Ivany has played lacrosse since the third grade, and played midfield up until freshman year, when he became the goalie. He played for the JV team for that year, and this year has moved up to varsity. When it comes to improvement this year, Ivany told about how he feels the team has grown a lot, stating that “looking back last year [he] felt like there was a lot of individual play that carried [them] and it's good to see, but when everyone is able to contribute to [their] success it is a lot better for all of [them].” However, there is always room for improvement in a sports team, with Ivany stating that “[They] have improved [their] team play a lot, looking back last year felt like there was a lot of individual play that carried [them] and it’s good to see, but when everyone is able to contribute to [their] success it is a lot better for all of [them].
Goals are always something teams set at the start of seasons, and the lacrosse team is no different. This season, most players on the team seem to have a similar goal in mind, as does coach Copithorne, who mentioned he would like the team to “take a step forward and would like to put themselves in a position to play in the tournament.” As more personal goals amongst the players, Greige mentioned that he wants to “make it on to the starting lineup” and for “the focus to always stick with [him] and the rest of my team. Ivany mentioned how he’s “looking to make sure that [he] can stop enough shots to give [them] a chance to win every game [they] play.”
The team has high expectations this season even though they had a pretty rocky start. The players as well as coach Copithorne seem excited for the season and how it turns out, stating that he “expects everyone to show up and get better. Hopes they can do the best they can.” and that “the ball will bounce however it bounces."