The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) varsity boys lacrosse team played their hearts out on a sunny, 60° Senior Day, beating out an aggressive Fairhaven Blue Devils squad on Saturday, 11-8.
Although not quite the last home game of the season, the boys played like it was. Before the game, emotions were high as graduating seniors presented bouquets of flowers to their proud parents.
Head Coach Chris Greene gave a speech thanking players for their unwavering commitment to supporting one another through thick and thin. “This day is bittersweet,” Greene said. “Every guy here has his own story, some of them have been playing varsity all four years.”
Greene said he feels proud to be able to watch his players mature and learn new skills, both on and off the field. “I am really looking forward to finishing this year out, so let’s have a great game,” Greene said.
And with that, the game began.
Shooter Sam Wallace, a captain and graduating senior, scored two impressive goals within minutes of each other, both on breakaway charges.
The Blue Devils hit a corner shot in between, setting the starting score at 2-1, Vineyard. Fairhaven then hit a second to make it a tie game, as friends and family of both sides cheered and shouted tips. After yet another run-up by Wallace and an assist by Zander Amaral, the Vineyarders again took the lead.
At the start of the second quarter, Vineyard attackers made a fast break through the Fairhaven defense, giving Colby Zarba a chance for a clean shot, setting the score 4-3. The Blue Devils brought it back to a tie again with four minutes left in the second quarter.
But the Vineyarders were ready out of the gate, when Wallace hit a snipe from far out, and Colby Zarba managed to cut through Fairhaven defenders to set the score at 6-4.
In the beginning of the final quarter, the Vineyarders were leading 8-6, but the Blue Devils played hard to even things out, getting the first goal. After more than a few bouts of intense play, the score was 9-7 with nine minutes left in the game.
Following a swift dirt shot by Ivan Shepard, Wallace hit his sixth goal of the game, putting the Vineyarders further ahead at 11-7. With minutes left on the clock, the Blue Devils scored, setting a final score of 11-8.
Both teams fought hard, and after the game it was evident how proud the Vineyard team was of what they had accomplished that day.
Wallace walked toward the concessions stand to greet his smiling family. “I’ve been waiting a long time for this, and it is pretty sad, but all good things come and go,” Wallace said. “I am just happy to finish this chapter of my life out with my boys, my day-one boys.” His father Mark said lacrosse is such a huge part of his entire family’s lives, and that won’t change anytime soon.
“I feel very melancholy. It’s been 12 years in the school with four kids playing lacrosse, so yeah, you could say we have a dynasty,” Mark said.
Wallace will be attending the University of Vermont, where he hopes to walk on to the schools Division 1 team.
Wallace’s brother Jordan said he has played lacrosse for his whole life as well, and being an alumnus of the MVRHS lacrosse team, it’s hard for him not to pick up a stick himself. “Honestly, sometimes it’s hard to watch these games, because I want to get back out on that field,” Jordan said. “But at the same time, I’m so incredibly proud of my brother, and I can’t wait to see what he continues on to accomplish.”
Owen Engler, another graduating senior, said he is excited to start a new chapter of his life and “have a new beginning.”
“I am committed to staying connected with my passion for lacrosse and keeping a stick in my hand,” Engler said. “At this point, it’s more of a lifestyle than just a sport. It’s a part of me.”
Engler has committed to Boston College, where he hopes to either player intramural lacrosse or club lacrosse.
His mother Sharon Engler said it has been a really difficult year, but the tenacity and ability of the coaches have been game-changers.
“These coaches are something magical,” Sharon said, pointing to head Coach Chris Greene.
“They have been so supportive of all the players, and really want to see them succeed. They aren’t just coaches, they are teachers and mentors.”
Coach Greene said if he can inspire a young person to be their best, he considers that a job well done.
“I know that each player has their own strengths, their own weaknesses, I know that they all want to win,” Greene said. “I have seen these guys grow from young athletes into powerful players that know how to work together.”
Greene said one of the most rewarding things about watching his guys play is how they overcome adversity and do their best to work as a team.
“This was probably an instance where these guys had to play the hardest they have ever played. It was a testament to how badly they want success, and how much they are willing to put in to achieve that success,” Green said.
Assistant Coach Michael Morris agreed with Greene: “That was one of the most competitive games I have seen, but there were lots of highlights today. Everyone really gave it their all, and I’m really proud of them.”
The team will travel to Falmouth on Tuesday, May 14, to take on Falmouth Academy at 4 pm.