Staples lacrosse coach Paul McNulty has been coaching sports for over 40 years. One loss isn't going to make him search for the panic button. "We're going to be fine,'' McNulty said as the top-seeded Wreckers (16-1) prepared for Thursday's Class L opener against the winner of Tuesday's game between South Windsor and Newington. Game time is 3 p.m. at Staples.
Staples comes into the tournament off its best season in school history. The Wreckers rolled through the regular season undefeated before falling to St. Joseph, 10-7, in the quarterfinals of the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference tournament. Staples is anchored by a strong senior class that features six players who will be playing in college next year.
"They are very positive,'' McNulty says. "They are always up, even when I don't think they're going to be. We came back after the loss and had some great practices. We lost a game. That's not even on the list of hard things to overcome. They were pretty down after that, and so was I. It would have been better if had lost during the regular season so we could've gone through all that."
Staples is anchored defensively by Jack Ambrose, who will play lacrosse at Yale next year. Nathan Greenberg, who plays attack, will attend Union. Kyle Mendelson (Manhattan), Jeff Kelly (Union) and twins Brandon and Austin Waiter (Merrimack) will also play in college next year. Staples' other seniors include Paul Lahiff, Keith Gelman, Seth Cadan and Connor Austin.
McNulty knows what it takes to win championships. He took over at Staples last year after a 13-year stint as the head coach at Wilton, where he won three state titles. It's not going to be easy for the Wreckers. Greenwich, the FCIAC champion, and perennial power Fairfield Prep are potential semifinal opponents if Staples wins its first two games.
"We will face teams we haven't seen before,'' McNulty said. "We have to adapt well and accumulate what we've done all season."
Photo, front row, from left: Brandon Waiter, Nate Greenberg, Jack Ambrose, Austin Waiter, Paul Lahiff, Keith Gelman Back Row: Jeff Kelly, Seth Cadan, Kyle Mendelson (not pictured Connor Austin).
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