WEST HARTFORD — The Hall High School boys lacrosse team has talent and experience, now if it can just overcome an early-season obstacle it should be primed for a big season.
The Warriors will be strong on defense and have a high-scoring attack, but that will be when they are at full strength, which they won’t be early on in the 2014 season.
A school music trip overseas is going to mean that the Warriors will start the season a bit shorthanded as around four to five would-be starters will be away for the first three to four games of the season.
Hall starts the season with a home game under the lights on Friday against Simsbury. The Warriors then face Bristol Central on the road Saturday before hosting Ledyard (Monday) and Northwest Catholic (Wednesday).
“We will be a little bit of a different team for first four or five ames because we are talking about six starters or so,” Hall coach Philip Orzech said. “If it was later in the season I wouldn’t be as nervous about it.”
Last season the Warriors went 11-5 in the regular season before a 12-8 loss to Southington in the first round of the Class L state tournament. Hall won its first seven games of the season and was good in close games throughout the season.
Starting the season shorthanded will make getting off to the same kind of fast start a challenge, but it could pay dividends down the road.
“By the end of the season it will be a help, younger players will get experience and that will make us better,” Orzech said. “The key is limiting losses. If we win by one it is the same as winning by 10, probably even better.”
When the Warriors take the field as a complete unit the defense will be their backbone and a key to success.
Junior Alex Liu will be in goal and in front of him will be three seniors on defense that all have experience in captain Cole Souza, Connor Langan and Andrew Miller.
“Alex is a very good goalie, he is quick and has good hands and is going to help us,” Orzech said. “Having three seniors on defense is a big deal for team too. It is their third year on varsity and they are a strong group. The last few years we have always been able to score a lot of goals this will help us to stop goals and we will be a lot better because of that.”
On offense, Ithaca-bound Marc Ross is back in the midfield and will be a captain for the second season. One of the top scorers in the state last year with 45 goals and 34 assists, Ross will be the focal point for the Warriors attack.
“Marc is an excellent player and will be a big part of our offense,” Orzech said. “We will run a lot of stuff through him. He is our best player and he’s the best player on the field a lot of times.”
Another key piece of the midfield is captain Kyle Raney, who returns for his third season of varsity lacrosse and comes off a junior season in which he won nearly 70 percent of his face-offs. Senior Matt Piccone will also start in the midfield for the Warriors.
Juniors Will Witter (35 goals) and Hayden Souza (24 goals) will be on the field a ton and are considered key offensive players by Orzech.
Hall lacrosse has been on the upswing in recent seasons according to Orzech. The Warriors won a school record 12 games in 2011 and followed it up with nine and 11-win campaigns. This year’s squad has the potential to be just as good once it is all together.
“The biggest thing for us and the toughest, will be those games when we are missing guys who are in Europe for the trip,” Orzech said. “When everyone is here we can have a season like 2011. How we do with the guys missing, if guys step up will play a big part in how we do.”