If opportunity knocks, it is hitting Blue Wave boys’ lacrosse’s door with a sledgehammer.
All-time scoring leader Case Matheis, Tony Britton and Henry West, all major All-Americans, are lost to graduation.
And that’s not all.
Tommy Lyons, Corey Eppley, Bobby Weaver and Tim Murphy’s absences also need to be factored in if you want to know what’s been inflicted upon Wave 2013 with this year’s particularly taxing college exodus.
“And on and on and on,” said Jeff Brameier, who has seen it all before and in Technicolor, starting his 30th year as Wave coach. “But we’re used to that.”
It says the most about Brameier’s three decade’s, that the loss of a crew that would crater most any other team — Rams, Warriors, Tigers included — can not be even slightly moaned about. Not by Brameier.
“Every year we’re going to lose kids like that,” he continued, “every year is the next guys’ opportunity.”
Cue the Thor at the door.
But many are expected to answer that hard knock, starting with the captains.
There are five.
Captain Kevin Seiler returns at starting attack.
Captains Sean Foley and Brendan Hathaway are back at midfield, although Hathaway broke his leg playing hockey and will not likely be available before May.
Two short stick D middies who handled things very well last season are new captains Peter Gesualdi and CJ Raia.
“We’re not necessarily rebuilding, but giving a guy who has been waiting his time to get on the field and show what he can do,” Brameier said. “You see it every year.”
A lot of kids don’t get to play until their senior year, due to the strength of the program.
“Not very much,” Brameier said. “Not a starting role.”
And these too are players who step into college careers, with about an entire squad full of them active on university fields this season, as usual.
“We had kids last year like Corey Eppley and Tommy Lyons, Jon Magnusson, who really were just senior starters,” Brameier said. “And those kids got into their senior year and really stepped up to have big time years.”
Matheis, now at Duke, was a select case, having been the only player to start as a freshman, and keep starting, for the Wave. This year 46 freshmen came out for the team.
“A lot of talent there,” Brameier said. “We’re excited about the future.”
And so it goes.
Phil Huffard, slated for Yale as a junior, is back in the cage.
“Started as a sophomore, and a great rookie season for him,” said Brameier. “And he is going to be one of the premier goalies in the state this year.”
At attack, it’s Seiler, committed to Colby, a likely sniper in Peter Lindley (UMass), who came on like an old hand around the net last season, and John Reed (Bucknell).
“Then we have senior James Lyons, who is very quick and darty, can see time in both attack and midfield.”
And there is freshman, lefty Jack Kniffin, who has scored half a dozen goals in preseason.
“He’s a quick little heady kid,” said Brameier. “Very comfortable out there.”
Freshman Colin Minicus joins him as a solid rookie on attack.
“They are going to be in the mix,” said Brameier.
Three juniors move in at midfield: Kyle Cornell (Bryant), who saw much time on offense and defense last year; Harry Gillespie, who Brameier calls one of Darien’s top shooters in the midfield; and Owen Koorbusch.
Sophomore Ian Burgoyne will see time at third short stick and is a two-way top middie.
“It gives us a lot of good size,” Brameier said.
Andrew Pugliese comes in as a top face-off man as sophomore.
Clay Barker (Class of ’12) took the draw last year.
“Hathaway is really our No. 1 guy,” Brameier said.
Which makes Pugliese and Koorbusch the go-to face-off guys in Hathaway’s stead.
Freshman middie Hudson Hammill, who Brameier says is tough and with good skills will also get a look.
Defensive midfield long pole, last year’s back-up Brad McCarthy will be the starter.
Daniel Traver, a sophomore will back him up.
Theo Frelinghuysen is third long pole.
Defensively, Darien returns Sam Meyjes, senior Drew Martsolf, playing well in preseason, juniors Kyle Gifford and Christian Cochran, senior Carter Rae, sophomore Jack Feeley and freshman long pole Mark Evanchick, a physical force.
“I’m very happy with what’s going on,” Brameier said.
And he’s happy with one all-time great who was both lost to graduation long ago, and now also returns, in CT Hall of Famer and former pro star, international player Jamie Hanford. Hanford is back in blue and white as assistant coach (see feature on Hanford archived on this site).
Defending Class M state champ Darien was beaten in the FCIAC semis by Ridgefield last year, one of only two losses.
Brameier thinks Greenwich is the preseason favorite for 2013, returning all starters.
“The FCIAC is always going to be a challenge,” he added.
And actually getting into the 30th season commanding the Blue Wave bench?
“This is when you really get to coach the team and work on strategy, breakdown opponents, that kind of stuff,” Brameier said. “It’s always a challenge to see how you can put the puzzle together.”