On March 20, the Harrison boys lacrosse team kicked off the 2018 campaign on a positive note, beating visiting Nanuet 13-5 in the season opener. With a strong senior class beginning to gel under second-year head coach Matt Cipolla, the victory could portend big things for the Huskies this spring.
Harrison controlled things from the opening faceoff, jumping out to a 5-1 first quarter lead en route to a decisive win over the Golden Knights. Austin Mueller led the Huskies with six goals and two assists on the afternoon, while Tyler Menniti and Connor Novak each found the net twice in a game that Cipolla said was a positive start for his ballclub.
“I thought we came out firing on all cylinders and I’m really happy with how the kids performed,” Cipolla said. “We played a lot better than we did in our last [preseason] scrimmage, and we played a pretty complete four quarters.”
Cipolla was most impressed with the team’s play on the offensive end and believes that Tuesday’s performance may have been a blueprint for success for a Huskies’ team looking to replace the goals it got from last season’s leading scorer Matt McLaughlin, who graduated last May.
“There’s no replacing a guy like McLaughlin with just one player, but I thought we moved well out there,” said the head coach. “Novak is going to have to be our leader out there, but I think Mueller is going to step up very nicely for us this season as well.”
With a large senior class, Cipolla is confident that the Huskies will be able to build on their first win as they look ahead to the rest of the upcoming campaign. Last season, the Huskies finished with a 10-7 record and nearly grabbed a piece of the League 2C title, and could be even more formidable this spring, as roughly 75 percent of the team’s returning players played a significant role on last year’s squad.
“We’ve got a lot of guys with that experience, maybe five or six guys have been four year varsity players,” Cipolla said. “They know exactly what to expect from the season and we definitely have a lot of leadership.”
The Huskies will be tested early, as they will take on league foe Byram Hills on March 27 before hosting state runner-up Westlake two days later. According to Cipolla, these early tests should provide the Huskies with a chance to prove themselves right out of the gate.
“Having a tough schedule is going to help prepare us for making a run in the sectional playoffs,” he said. “Especially for the newcomers, guys are going to learn pretty quickly about the level of play we’re going to be seeing this year.”