WHS boys lacrosse players (L-R) Spencer Bartone, Thomas Mayfield, Colby Quinn, Alexander Parker, Wil Bankowski, Luke Whitaker, and Vasilios Tsipouras during Windsor game. Photo credit - Jo-Ann Campbell
2020 was supposed to be a banner year for the Wethersfield boys’ lacrosse season.
The Eagles were set to make their varsity debut until the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans, causing head coach Bruce Cutkomp and his team to wait an additional year to compete.
“I was just checking in here and there, seeing how everyone was doing and seeing if they still planned on being with the program,” Cutkomp said of the extended offseason, “Once we figured out we had a season, we started getting moving. My seniors did a really good job at taking it on and getting everyone in the right mindset. They did all the little things that needed to be done before the season started, which made my job a lot easier.”
On April 10, the Eagles made their long-awaited varsity debut, coming from behind to shock Granby 8-7.
Granby jumped out to a 6-1 lead after the first quarter before the Eagles stormed back to tie it at halftime, eventually closing the door defensively in the second half for the program’s first varsity.
“After the first quarter we really cleaned up our slides. We stopped their fast break because that was what they were scoring on,” recalled Michael Bielak, who is captaining the defense, “We caused some turnovers and that allowed us to score.”
Cutkomp, who previously coach JV and youth lacrosse in Wethersfield, didn’t panic during the slow start, “Being with these guys a long time I know they have that mental toughness, and they have that chip on their shoulder. I knew they were capable of it and they definitely took it on their own to change the course of that game.”
Goalie Cooper Moreau shook off a rough first quarter, allowing only one goal the rest of the way.
“We were comfortable. Coach always does a great job at preparing us,” said Moreau, who stopped 21 of 28 shots, “On defense we stayed calm, and it was just a few corrections we had to make. One thing here, one thing there, and we were right back in it. We are comfortable with our offense that we could get those goals and come back.”
Cutkomp praised his goalie’s resiliency, “I can’t say enough. For him to come back after letting up six early goals and turn the game around was essential to give us the confidence on the other end of the field. Without having that stalwart, I don’t think we would have had that confidence to continue.”
Wethersfield’s offense responded with a five-goal barrage in the second quarter, led by sophomore Wil Bankowski, who Cutkomp called “an absolute stud.”
Bankowski scored six of the Eagles eight goals, which was right on par with the dozen goals he totaled in two scrimmages leading up to the season opener.
Senior Ethan Rocheleau added a goal and an assist, while junior Colby Quinn dished out two helpers.
Senior Vasilios Tsipouras controlled the action from his midfield position, crediting the team’s mental makeup for the rally, “We were all mentally tough. We were aggressive across the board and that turned the game around.”
The come-from-behind win was much more than a season opening triumph. It was a statement win for a program that was robbed of an opportunity to compete last spring.
“It’s an amazing feeling, knowing that it was our first varsity game in the history of Wethersfield, and we beat a pretty good team,” said Tsipouras.
“It was huge for us. First varsity program win, and we were all happy,” added Moreau, who recalled the struggle of the last 12 months, “It was tough, we really didn’t have much going for us.”
The Eagles followed up the opener with resounding wins over Middletown and Windsor on Thursday and Saturday, Improving to 3-0.
In the 19-2 victory over the Blue Dragons, Bankowski tallied five more goals and two assists, while Quinn had three goals and a pair of assists.
Sophomore Michael Hughes and freshman Michael Ruck each added two goals.
Saturday’s win over the Warriors was 32-1. Bankowski added eight more goals and Spencer Bartone score five.
Rocheleau scored four goals and had four assists, while Quinn had three of each.
Bryan Rodriguez played goal, stopping six of seven shots.
Cutkomp likes the mixture of senior talent and youth on his roster, crediting young guys like Kyle Smith and Will McKenna for their work on the defensive end.
After waiting for over a year to debut, the seniors are relishing the opportunity.
“I feel like the seniors have gotten a family together and we’re brothers on and off the field,” stated Tsipouras, “When we step in between those blue lines, we’re a family and we go to war”
Bielak added the “[Winning] helps develop that desire to show that we belong at varsity and to make a name for ourselves out here.”
For Cutkomp, the early success is a satisfying for a coach that has helped develop both the current players and the program.
“Mostly I’m impressed with how prepared our senior class has been. it makes my job a lot easier. We don’t have a huge coaching staff so having those extra seniors to give those words of encouragement to pick those guys up if they’re down at that moment is huge for us,” stated Cutkomp, who also has Ralph D’Amato on staff, “To see what it has come from and to see what it has become is huge. I couldn’t ask for anything better. It’s come full circle, it’s been really nice.”
Senior defenseman Michael Bielak during program's first varsity win vs Granby. Photo credit - Jo-Ann Campbell
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin