The Salem High boys lacrosse program had its best season in recent memory last year when the Witches went 9-9 in the regular season and qualified for the Eastern Mass Division 1 State Tournament.
First year head coach Anthony Nardella isn’t bothered by that one bit. Nardella, who takes over this spring after Mark Higley stepped down, played at Beverly High and Western New England College before taking an assistant coaches position under current Panther skipper John Pynchon. He’s got the technical skill side covered. His new crop of Witches have just the work-ethic he is looking for.
“They’re very hard working. They’re tough, hard-nosed kids who do the little things like winning ground ball battles,” said Nardella. “That hard-nosed style is difficult to teach. The skill aspect is something we can build on, but I’m looking for hard-nosed, athletic people who show up and work hard day and day out.”
Salem High Athletic Director Scott Connolly is thrilled to have Nardella on staff.
“We put it out there and obviously through the grapevine he heard about it and came highly recommended from some very reputable sources,” explained Connolly. “The last few years he’s been under a great mentor in coach Pynchon — they don’t make ‘em any better than him.”
The 26-year-old Nardella teaches business classes in Billerica. He’s coached on both the Beverly football and lacrosse teams the past few seasons, but when the position across the bridge opened up, it was actually Pynchon who suggested a move to head coach for Nardella.
“The funny thing about that is John and I, we have similar views on the game of lacrosse and how it’s supposed to be played,” noted Nardella. “You’ll see some similarities between the way Beverly plays and the way hopefully we will be able to play this spring. But I will have some wrinkles.”