by Bob York
A 15-1 regular-season record, a Western New England Division I Boys Lacrosse League championship, and Top 10 rankings in New England as well as nationally… When it comes to this athletic arena, chalking up victories, titles, and prestigious ratings has long been considered deja vu all over again for Deerfield. Last spring, however, there were no celebrations to be had. The record stood at 9-7, and the league crown ended up in a trophy case at Avon Old Farms.
“It was very satisfying to climb back up the ladder again,” said veteran Coach Chip Davis of a feat his teams have now accomplished 12 of the past 15 seasons. “The kids were somewhat disappointed with the way things went last year, and for those who returned this season, all were committed that things would end differently this spring … and they did.
“I think one of the big reasons we were so successful this season was the fact that this team had great chemistry… among the best I’ve seen here,” added Davis. “Everyone bought in to what we were doing. Everyone worked together. We knew we had enough components and camaraderie to make a serious run at another league title when we came home from Florida.”
This wasn’t a season that Deerfield just stood out on the league level, however. LaxPower.com ranked the Big Green the No. 2 team—trailing only Darien, CT—out of 564 public and independent high school school teams throughout New England. The Big Green backed up that lofty status by knocking off all three of its league mates who ended up in the top 25. Third-ranked Taft fell, 14-7, while No. 6 Brunswick dropped a 13-10 decision. Salisbury, No. 17 on the list, lost, 12-8.
A perfect storm of offense and defense also played a huge part in Deerfield’s bounce-back season, as the Big Green outscored its opponents by better than a two-to-one margin. Deerfield posted 211 goals on the season—never being held to less than 10 in a game—for a 13.2 average.
Down at the other end of the field, meanwhile, goalie Phil Goss ’16 was giving up an stellar average of just 5.8 goals per game, as 13 of his 16 opponents were unable to reach double figures. In total, the Big Green issued one shutout and limited five other teams to four goals or less.
“This was a very unselfish team,” explained Goss, who is one of three goalies to earn a berth on the US Men’s Under 19 Team that will compete in the Federation of International Lacrosse World Championships this summer in Coquitlam, British Columbia. Goss also received an invite to partake in this year’s Under Armour High School All-American Game but will be unable to compete due to the World Cup, gave the defensive unit that stood in front of him all season much of the credit.
“They did a fantastic job making life miserable for opposing players all season long and that, in turn, made my life very easy,” said Goss, who was one of five Deerfield players to earn league all-star status and was selected as the league’s outstanding goaltender. The group lauded by the Brown-bound Goss included fellow Co-captain Curtis Alexander ’16, who was also voted onto the league all-star squad.
“This was a great way to wrap things up—especially after the way things went last year,” acknowledged Alexander, who will be playing lacrosse at the University of Michigan next spring. “We had the talent to win last year, but we let things get away from us. We started looking ahead rather than taking one game at a time. Overall, there wasn’t much difference in the talent level between last year’s team and this year’s team,” added Alexander, “but this team’s chemistry was much better. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a team with a better chemistry.”
Rounding out the defense were Jackson Caputo ’17, another all-star pick, as well as Chris Sullivan ’16, Courtney Morgan ’16, Reid Shilling ’17, and Cam Thrasher ’17. Offensively, Joe Manown ’16 was the Big Green’s big gun. The Duke-bound attackman chalked up 75 points on 47 goals and 28 assists, which proved to be the most points in a season since Jimmy Bitter graduated in 2011. The PG out of Rhode Island, who was named to last year’s Under Armour All-Star Game, earned himself the Stew Lindsay Award as the league’s premier attackman as well as a berth on its all-league team.
A number of midfielders turned in outstanding performances for Deerfield this spring. Among them was Zeke Emerson ’16, who was named recipient of the James Wilson Scholar/Athlete Award. Emerson, who will be playing lacrosse and football at Middlebury next year, also shared the school’s Benjamin Haviland Lacrosse Cup with Gavin Kennedy ’16. Luke Brugel ’16, who also handled face-offs for the Big Green and who will be playing at Virginia next year, earned all-league status as well as being named recipient of the school’s Rhodes Cup. The Ramsay Cup, in honor of the school’s top midfielder, was awarded to Nigel Andrews ’16.
“We had a talented team last year, but we never seemed to be able to finish games off. . .we lost four one-goal games last year,” said Andrews. “This year, the talent was there, but we played more as a team. We got the four PGs acclimated early on. They bought into the program completely, and it made a big difference. Everyone was on the same page this spring and it gave the seniors on the team a perfect ending.”