By James Anderson
FRYEBURG — Coming off a successful 2018 season, one that saw the Fryeburg Academy boys’ lacrosse team reach the Final Four, the Raiders will be looking to rebuild this upcoming season after losing eight seniors to graduation last May.
The Raiders set school records for most wins (12) fewest losses (two), and furthest advancement in the state tournament (semifinals). Fryeburg fell to Lincoln Academy 12-11 in the Maine Class C semifinals on June 12.
Evan Caracciolo, Caleb Eklund, Gavin LaChance, Jared Marshall, Cody Gullickson, Cole LeBlond, Jared Chisari and Ben Friaze helped the Academy to its best lacrosse season ever last year, but have moved on from Fryeburg Academy to take on new life challenges. Six of these young men started with Coach Matt Haley in seventh and eighth grade and they were reunited with him again for their junior and senior years.
"Caleb Eklund, Evan Caracciolo, Ben Fraize, Cole LeBlond, Gavin LaChance and Jared Chisari will be missed dearly,” Haley said.
Gullickson was named the team MVP last year.
While those who have moved on will be missed, the Raiders have an excellent core of seniors with talented underclassmen returning, and what appears to be an excellent group of first-year players. Lacrosse has become quite popular under Coach Haley. Fryeburg has gone 20-7 under his guidance the last two years with the Raiders appearing in the state quarterfinals in 2017 and the semifinals last year.
There are a record 30 boys out for the lacrosse program this spring, including 16 seniors — Manny Baptista, Matt Bordonaro, Caleb Bowles, Liam Chisari, Gaige Daigle, Jaden Deanery, Calvin Fox, Josh Frye, Gunnar Gurnis, Liam Harriman, Marc Iannizzi, Yukon King, Orion Lovering, Kempton Mallett, Brevin, Mutrie and Tri Nguyen; juniors — Ethan Burke, Jack Campbell, Caden Dangle and Charlie Stokes; sophomores — Teddy Bradley, Will Galligan and Andrew Turner; and freshmen — Kia Bryant, Tyler Day, Sebastian Drosa, Will Eggins, Job Fox, Rohan Hikel and Devin Scrimger.
Freshman Liam Quinn is the team manager.
The boys will have 11 returning seniors, many of which play in key positions. They will be looked to for leadership and assistance in developing some of the younger team members relative to game strategies.
On attack for the Raiders will be Gurnis, Bowles, who garnered Western Maine Conference Second-Team honors last spring, and Frye. These attackers should provide plenty of offensive firepower.
On defense, the Raiders should field a very strong and skilled group of defenders in Harriman, Dennery, Maillett and Ianuzzi.
King will return in goal after missing most of last season with an injury.
Chisari and Nguyen will patrol the all-important midfield for the boys in blue and white.
Despite having yet to get out on their home field, the Raiders have been able to get in one scrimmage, traveling to Bath, Maine, to play the Hyde School on April 3.
Haley, happy to get a good look at his 2019 troops, called is “a great friendly” for the team. Hyde took honors in the scrimmage, winning 15-3.
The Raiders traveled, missing some key players, but managed to remain competitive against a strong Hyde squad. Goal scorers for the Raiders were Gurnis, Chisari and Frye.
Haley reported that it was just nice to get out on a field, as the Raiders have had to practice indoors up until now in this pre-season due to the slow snow melt this spring. He said Fryeburg’s defense was challenged and the offense is “still working on their set-up and flash-cuts, was just good enough to make for a productive trip.”
He added, the Raiders showed a strong desire to compete and were a better team after the game for the experience. A week of outdoor practices, at some point, will benefit the team tremendously.
Fryeburg was scheduled to travel to Kennebunk on Tuesday and Gould on Wednesday but both exhibition contests were postponed. The Raiders are slated to play a 6 p.m. match at Freeport on Thursday, weather permitting.
After spring recess, FA is scheduled to play its home-opener against Gray at 4 p.m.