SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

April 9, 2013

Lax Lowdown: Looking ahead at high expectations

(Continued)

Marblehead — The one hurdle that the Magicians can’t seem to get over is defeating the Panthers in Northeastern Conference play. They’ll get their chance to flip that today when the two teams meet at Beverly, but Marblehead arguably had just as good a season as the Panthers did last year. Marblehead finished 15-5 with a win in the Div. 2 tournament.

Ian Maag, Zac Cuzner and Brooks Tyrrell return to form an excellent midfield, and the Magicians’ defense should be strong in front of sophmore goalie Nathan Maselek. Crandall Maxwell, Liam Gillis and Will Hughes are solid defensive players for Marblehead.

The two teams that seem ready to make the next step are Peabody and Salem. Even though neither team has experienced any postseason success the past few years, there is reason for optimism this year.

Peabody coach Anthony O’Donnell was thrilled with the preseason preparation his team put in before tryouts began.

“They’ve put in the time,” O’Donnell said. “We did team goals and the kids want to bring pride back to Peabody lacrosse, and winning the NEC title is achievable this year.”

The Tanners are led by their captains. Seniors Keifer Heckman and Nick Ouellette will power the offense, while Andrew Najjar is a rock on defense in front of goalie Evan Connolly.

Salem, meanwhile, could be getting a big boost from new coach Anthony Nardella, a former assistant at Beverly.

The Witches have seemingly climbed on Nardella’s bandwagon pretty quickly, racing out to wins in their first four games. One of the things Nardella and his players would like to do this year is make an impact in the postseason.

Like O’Donnell in Peabody, Nardella has a good group of seniors in Alex Veloukas, Mitch Osgood, Matt Wilson, Chad Coelho and Billy Muse.

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