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Gonzaga pre-season lacrosse team hopes for another strong season

During the 2021-22 season, Gonzaga lacrosse comes together with the student section of Gonzaga to sing the alma mater after they defeated McDonogh. The lacrosse team sees McDonogh again this upcoming season on March 9. Photo taken from GonzagaCHS Lacrosse Flickr

Throughout the years, Gonzaga’s lacrosse team has put itself on the map as one of the best teams in the WCAC and recognized nationally amongst high school lacrosse. 

Last year, Gonzaga’s lacrosse team went 14-6 beating respected teams such as McDonogh,  Loyola Blakefield, Landon, St. Paul VI and Culver. The team managed to win its first eight games, earning them the number two ranked high school team in the nation. Unfortunately, the Eagles lost their streak when they played a tough match-up against the number one ranked team in the nation, St. John’s. The following games consisted of many wins and a few losses but ultimately ended in a bittersweet moment when losing to St. John’s, once again, in the WCAC championship. 

Many fans, schools and alumni anticipate this upcoming season to be great as the Eagles are playing with a second year coach and a new group of players, losing star players from last year’s run. Players like graduate James Matan, class of 2022 and a current University of North Carolina player who’s a shifty attackman with a large base and a strong shot, helped carry last year’s team to a winning record.

Lacrosse head coach Jeff King celebrates after a game last season. Photo taken from GonzagaCHS Lacrosse Flickr

“I’m looking forward to watching the squad play this season […]. I think many guys will step up to get some wins,” Matan said. 

The two defensive midfielders Leif Hagerup, class of 2022 who also plays at UNC, and Tommy Bonovita, class of 2022 plays for Army, helped lock down offensive midfielders last year. 

“I know Austin, Leland and Dec will lead this squad to their goal of winning the WCAC championship,” Hagerup said.

Bonovita is looking forward to watching his old teammates play this season. 

“I can’t wait to see my boys play their hearts out on the field. We have so many studs who will impact the upcoming season […]. I’m so pumped for my boys,” Bonovita said. 

Ryan Splaine, class of 2022 who plays at  Rutgers and who won MVP for the team last year as the starting Long Stick Midfielder, helped the Eagles to a strong record. He reflected on last year’s season with hopes for this year’s team.

“We had a lot of talent from last year’s squad. Can’t wait to see them get after it this season,” Splaine said.

Fortunately, not all skill is lost from last season as players like seniors Declan Monahan, a Penn commit, Jack Leland, a Georgetown commit, Austin Cunningham, an Army commit, and Matthew Rienzo, a Georgetown commit, will be leading this new group. 

“I feel we are conditioned to play for right now. We’ve been putting in work with the trainers at Healthy Ballers […]. We’ve done three days a week of agility, footwork and conditioning plus at least two lifts per week. Matt Boyd [a Healthy Ballers strength and agility coach who works with the Gonzaga lacrosse team] is putting us in a good spot for the season,” Rienzo said. 

Monahan, who is captain this year, also gave his words of encouragement for how the team is preparing for this upcoming season. 

“Everyone is healthy right now. We got some great returners and a lot of good seniors, juniors and sophomores who are ready for this season. Our sticks are in shape too as we’ve been practicing once or twice a week since September,” Monahan said.

As the team works in the off-season to face McDonogh, the players are getting physically and mentally ready for the demanding schedule they face. 

“I think our schedule is really packed. It’s a great schedule and one of the hardest in the country,” Rienzo said.

Monahan encourages the team to not worry about the future but to think of each game one step at a time.

“We’re not really preparing for every game right now, but we’re only focused towards March 9’s game against McDonogh. You got one game at a time; you don’t want to look too far into the future,” Monahan said. 

Working during the off-season to prepare for the opening game against McDonogh, the team is finding ways to implement more talent onto the field. Due to many key players leaving from last year’s squad, many younger players have to step up. 

“We have sophomores like Gaetano Cicotello and Tim McGrail who are looking to contribute. We also got some juniors this year like Johnny Gardiner, a Maryland commit, Freddy Fowler, a Colgate commit, James Timmins and Robby Bath who are looking to fill in the new offense. Players defensively who need to step up are juniors like Nick Sweeney, a Towson commit, and Joe Matan,” Rienzo said. 

As the team spends its last weeks preparing for the upcoming season, many players are trying to fight for their role in the lineup. While many juniors and sophomores are hopeful they can fill in the roles that were lost, the seniors are taking in their last moments before the season starts. 

“The end goal? Simple. Winning the WCAC championship,” Monahan said.

With a challenging schedule, a new team and a lot of roles to fill, the main goal is still the same: winning the WCAC championship. As Monahan said, the first game of the season is on March 9, time TBD, at McDonogh if anyone in the Gonzaga community is looking to watch the first game of the season and support Gonzaga lacrosse. 

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