By all accounts, last season was one of the most successful in history for the Westhampton Beach boys lacrosse program.
The Hurricanes finished with a 13-3 overall record and advanced to the postseason for the first time since 2005. An 8-4 loss to Hauppauge in the opening round of the Class B playoffs brought their season to an earlier close than they and head coach Drew Peters had hoped for.
Now, with a solid group of experienced and talented players returning this year, the expectations are remaining high for the Hurricanes.
Westhampton Beach has already said goodbye to six key seniors—Kevin Dean, Brandon Moloney, Cody Olsen, Brendon Eckart, Scott Martin and T.J. Murphy. Dean, an All-County player last year, is now playing at Springfield College, while Moloney, who also earned All-County honors, is at Christopher Newport College and Eckart is playing at Suffolk County Community College.
While they were instrumental players on last year’s team, Peters believes that he has plenty of talent returning, and he expects those veteran players to lead the squad this year.
“We have a lot of seniors on our team and these are guys that have played now for two or three years,” he said. “Senior experience and leadership is going to be what leads our team. We have some athletic kids that can play different positions on the field, which may allow us some flexibility in moving guys around. We have kids that have developed and have a very good sense of the game.”
Defense will be a strength for Westhampton Beach, with several key players returning to that area of the field. The Hurricanes will have one of the best goalies in the county in senior Brian Corrigan, an All-County selection last season who will play at Division I Marist next year. Seniors Brian Culhane, Pat Bonner, Vito Strippoli, Pete Broccoli and Liam Lewis will lead the charge.
On the offensive side of the field, Peters expects seniors Casey Hickey, Jack Murphy, Pat Yager and Zach Moore to lead the team along with junior Evan Gagne. Hickey is also committed to Marist next year and was named All-Division, along with Gagne.
Peters said he and his coaching staff are still working on figuring out who will step into some of the vacated starting roles, but he expects the team’s collective experience to be a strength.
“With 16 seniors on our team, our identity has to be our seniors and the experience they will take into each game,” he said. “We have kids that have played in close games and won those match-ups, so they need to take that experience and carry it over to this season and show some of the younger guys what it takes.”
Despite the success of last season, Peters is keeping his expectations simple, for now.
“A goal of ours would be to finish in the top seven teams of our division and make the playoffs,” he said. “If we reach that goal, then our expectations will be adjusted once we’re in the playoffs.”
Peters said he expects the usual suspects to be strong in an always competitive Division II, including defending New York State Class C Champion Shoreham/Wading River, as well as Comsewogue, Sayville and Eastport South Manor. Peters said Miller Place, Rocky Point and Huntington should be strong as well. The Hurricanes will be on the list of top teams for their opponents as well, as they were ranked fifth out of the 22 teams in the division in the preseason.
Westhampton Beach will open the season at Shoreham/Wading River on Wednesday, March 27, at 4:30 p.m.