FAIRFIELD >> It’s too early for Fairfield Warde boys’ head lacrosse coach Tom Cunningham to make predictions.
But one thing he is certain about, the team standard has been set higher going into the season.
“I talked a lot to the guys about taking one step forward this season,” senior Brian Kerrigan said. “To me, that means being one of those top eight teams in the FCIAC, qualify for the FCIAC Tournament and make a name for ourselves in the state tournament.”
Those are realistic goals for a veteran squad that has qualified for the state tournament the last three years, making big strides along the way.
Warde returns solid numbers led by a strong and talented defense that will play a major role in how far the team advances.
“I think we’re definitely going to present a great defense, they’re (opponents) going to have a tough time,” Cunningham said.
Added senior attack Kyle Scheetz: “I think our size really helps us on defense and our leadership.”
The anchor of the defense will be senior netminder Jason Nerreau, who is a third-year returning starter.
“Jason is one of the top players in the state in my opinion,” Cunningham said. “You can count on him every game. He’s a great leader in the back, he knows the game. He makes saves that he should make and he makes saves that you don’t expect him to make.”
Warde, which finished last season 9-8 and lost in the first round of the Class M State Tournament, 12-6 to New Fairfield, will look to counter that stingy defense with a new and improved offense. An area the Mustangs have struggled with finding consistency at, experience and talent should help put up more goals and opportunity this spring.
“Offensively, we didn’t do too well last year,” Scheetz said. “It’s one thing we’ve been more focused on.”
Added Kerrigan: “We haven’t had like a go-to guy and I think we’ll have that in Scheetz and junior (Brendan) King.”
Nerreau said he’s already seen an improvement in the offense in the early practices.
Warde will open up the season on April 9 at home against Stamford. The Mustangs will get an early season test on April 15 as they travel to Staples and then host Ridgefield on April 17.
“I’m licking my lips for those games,” Kerrigan said with a smile. “Those games, win or lose, it will show the FCIAC what we’re capable of.”