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Sunday, April 22 News

Storm sports set for successful spring season

Golf

The St. Luke’s Varsity Golf team is heading into the 2018 season with the same goal as last year—to defend its FAA title.

The Storm was crowned FAA Champions in 2016 and 2017 and will be looking to three-peat this spring despite losing a number of key players from last year’s squad.

Jake Lustig, David Ball and Charlie Whiteley all graduated in 2017, but coach Jason Warner is confident in his players.

“Our goal is to go undefeated,” Warner said. “I expect us to win every match we play in. I want us to compete well in the Bulls Bridge tournament and I would like us to defend our FAA title again.”

Many team members traveled to Florida recently for spring training and were able to practice and play at some of Disney’s finest courses.

There was some excellent golf on show with Jack Maguire ‘19 and Mark Gertsen ‘19 shooting some of the lowest scores over the four days.

Warner expects the dynamic duo to lead the way for the Storm again this year.

“Maguire and Gertsen are going to play very key roles at No. 1 and 2 and I expect them both to contend at the FAA tournament and Bulls Bridge tournament,” Warner said. “They were superb for us last year and are even better players this season.”

Will Frossell will captain the team and will play as the No. 3 golfer.

“Frossell will be a really good number three for us but I am also looking for him to set a good example for the younger guys,” Warner said. “I want him to lead by example, make sure the team has fun but make sure the guys take things seriously too.”

The team suffered a blow last week with the news that Ben Loomis ‘21 will be sidelined for a number of weeks. However, Warner expects some of his other golfers to fill the void.

“We have a lot of depth but losing Ben for a few weeks will give Jack Fitzgibbon the opportunity to move up the ladder,” Warner said. “We will need Fitzy to play some really good golf against the top teams. It should be a great experience for him. We also have Matt Laguzza (‘19), Chris Ayoub (‘19), Jack Quinn (‘19) and Lars Ernberg (‘20) who can all shoot some low scores. We also have some new guys in Jackson McManus (‘20), Blake Haden (‘21), Max Mitchell (‘20) who will add some competition for places.”

The Storm finished 7-1-1 with their only defeat coming against Brunswick and the tie against Rye Country Day School. Warner expects Rye’s Wildcats to be one of the teams challenging again this season as well as Hopkins School.

“Hopkins and Rye will probably provide our stiffest competition,” he said. “But I expect us to be deeper than most teams. However, it all depends who shows up on the day.”

Baseball

The St. Luke’s Varsity Baseball team is looking to build on a very positive 2017 season, with the majority of its pitching staff returning as well as a good core of last year’s team.

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Coach Anthony Conte is excited to see what his squad can achieve this year.

“We have a lot of guys returning including Ryan Neafsey (‘18), Brendan Casey (‘18), Shaka Moales (‘18), Andrew Kurth (‘18), Duncan MacLear (‘18),Oz Jensen (‘19), Nolan O’Brien (‘19), Mack Lemkau (‘20), Michael Thompson (‘20) and Ryan Higgins (‘21),” Conte said. “That includes the majority of our pitching staff returning too so we are in pretty good shape.”

St. Luke’s will have some real depth to its pitching this season, something Conte hopes can be a strength of the Storm: “O’Brien, Jensen, Thompson, Lemkau, and Higgins will be our main guys on the mound.

“We also have Casey, Neafsey, Jack Ellis (‘21), Jack Sanders (‘21) and Lewis Cropper (‘21) who will also step up when needed,” Conte said. “We have a plethora of arms which is exciting.”

The Storm graduated a few key players but Conte, who is entering his fourth year in charge, is confident this year’s group will continue to push the program forward.

“We have a program-based approach so, despite losing a few guys, we have full confidence in the players we have brought up from JV,” he said. “They already have a good understanding of the system and are already on the same page.”

Varsity Baseball enjoyed another productive preseason both on the Hilltop and in Florida at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The team got to train and play a number of competitive scrimmages and Conte has been extremely pleased with what he has seen.

“Preseason has been great and it’s such an advantage to have the turf field,” Conte said. “Florida was awesome as we got to see a lot of guys play different positions during our scrimmages down there. There’s a real team mentality and a quick bond has developed between all the guys which is pretty cool. Everyone has been willing to step up.”

The Storm has a tough start to the campaign with two road trips to Brunswick School and King School in the first two games but Conte is looking forward to the challenge.

“The league is very strong and we have our work cut out for us. There is always a pretty intense rivalry between us, Brunswick and King and we open up with both away from home. It should be fun.”

Last year’s win against the Brunswick Bruins was one of the highlights of the season and Conte is hoping for more games like that this time around.

“This year is going to take a team effort, it really is,” he said. “We need everybody to step up. We have to throw strikes, we have to hit the ball, we have to make plays.”

Boys lacrosse

The St. Luke’s Boys Varsity Lacrosse team is heading into the 2017-18 season with a ton of optimism despite a number of key players graduating from last year’s squad.

According to coach Andy Towers, there is a good blend of youth and experience within the group and they have been working extremely hard during preseason.

“The guys have been working tremendously hard and have done a great job of buying into the importance of coming together as a team,” Towers said. “There hasn’t been one player who is not on board with our mission.”

Towers, entering his second year at the helm, knows things will not be easy for the Storm in a fiercely competitive division. He is confident the group will rise to the challenge and have a successful season.

“We lost a ton of great players from last year’s class so we are going to have our work cut out for us, there’s no question about that,” he said. “However, everyone gets the fact that you define your season on the amount of growth that you’ve made.”

This year’s squad will be captained by Chris Besgen ‘18 and Jack Megrue ‘18 and Towers has been very impressed with the leadership qualities shown by both.

“We have got great leadership with Besgen and Megrue,” said Towers of the duo. “Chris has really stepped up in his role as a captain and his leadership in Florida was off the charts. Jack has the qualities of a captain in everything he does and how he goes about his life so I know they will do a great job.”

Towers believes the Storm defense will be one of its strengths this term and is also excited to see what sophomore face-off specialist Jerry Rutigliano ‘20 can add to the team.

“We are going to have a defensive team first. I think we have the best defensive player in the league in Sam Boston (20), I think we may have the best faceoff guy in Jerry and we have one of the top goalies in Ned Cunliffe (20). With those three guys, we have an opportunity.”

It will not be all defense though for BVL as Towers is looking for some of the newer faces to help offset the loss of Alex Nerod ‘17, Paul Woodberry ‘17, and Hunter Libman ‘17.

“Offensively, we return two attackmen in Besgen and Jack Halsey (‘18) and we also welcome back Brenden Whiteley (‘18) and Megrue,” Towers said. “Those guys are going to be counted on to make plays for us. We also have Phil Platek (‘20) and Justin Pearl (‘21) who are going to play key roles for us this year and for the next three to four years.”

Softball

The St. Luke’s Softball team is a force to be reckoned with, winning back-to-back-back FAA league championships, three consecutive Western New England Titles and narrowly missing out on the FAA tournament three-peat in last year’s final to Hopkins.

With last year’s entire squad returning, coach Troy Haynie is confident his players can continue the success they have enjoyed together.

“The ultimate goal is to four-peat,” Haynie said. “We are the defending regular season FAA champions and defending New England Champions for the last three years and I think this group of seniors would love to achieve that goal.”

Many of the team traveled to Florida during spring break. There they had the opportunity to train and play at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. Haynie was thrilled with the experience.

“Preseason has been excellent, there has been a lot of very high and positive energy that we are excited to see,” he said. “The Disney trip was probably our best yet. The girls were flying high and worked hard and had a lot of fun.”

The team played four games in five days against Chippewa Falls High School, WI, Montclair Kimberley Academy, NJ (x2) and St. Agnes-St. Matthews school, VA. After a tough loss to Chippewa the Storm bounced back to go undefeated in the other three matchups, winning two and tying one.

This year’s squad is captained by Kristen Beaumonte ‘18, Maya Klein ‘18, Ali Ferris ‘18, Courteney Newman ‘18 and Noelle Rushill ‘18.

Haynie has been very impressed with the leadership shown by the quintet.

“Noelle is injured but has been a very positive leader from the bench, her leadership and camaraderie in Florida was awesome,” Haynie said. “The other captains are extremely supportive, having a lot of fun with everything we do and really helping the other players out.”

Ruschill, last year’s catcher, will unfortunately miss the season due to injury. Haynie is looking to fill that role. The veteran coach is confident they have the players to cope with the loss of Ruschill.

“We had two seniors in Ferris and Rebecca Taylor who stepped up and caught for us in Florida and they are willing to play that role. We also have Raven Sead (20), who didn’t travel with us, who is also vying for that job. If our bats continue to support the runs we give up we are going to be okay.”

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