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Senior captain midfielder Kyle Gagliardi and the Morgan boys’ lacrosse team were hoping to repeat a strong year in 2020 after turning in an 11-8 overall record in 2019. Galiardi was slated to lead a young midfield group for the Huskies. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Senior Tim Lichak would have been looking to repeat his 2019 performance as one of the top point-leaders for the Huskies in 2020. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Senior Matt Lee was expected to play a vital role as part of the Huskies’ offensive attack in 2020. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
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The Morgan boys’ lacrosse team put together a solid season in 2019, posting an overall record of 11-8. The Huskies also made a trip to the Shoreline Conference Tournament final and qualified for the Class S State Tournament, as well. In 2020, Head Coach Brendan Hylan and his squad were going to see some major changes due to the graduation of several seniors who played integral roles the season prior. Alas, the Huskies wouldn’t get the chance to take the field this spring due to the coronavirus pandemic causing the cancellation season.
Coach Hylan knew that Morgan would have its work cut out for them with so many departing players’ spots to fill, but he believed his team was up to the task. Luckily for the Huskies, there were plenty of incoming freshmen ready to provide whatever help they could plugging up some holes in the roster.
“We were very senior-heavy for sure last year. We graduated 10 seniors, and all of them were significant role players on the team and pretty spread out in terms of offense, defense, and midfield positions,” said Hylan. “This year, we had 14 freshmen that came in. It was great that we reloaded, but you can’t expect to have the experience of veteran players. It was going to be a great year to start fresh and recalibrate.”
Coach Hylan was ecstatic that he had a young and eager group ready to contribute in any way it could, but its hard to predict how everyone would mesh. Hylan was concerned with burning out inexperienced players with too much pressure in varsity games that they may not have been ready for, but the numbers may have required some players to get an early taste of high-level competition.
“I was going into this year before all this pandemic with the mindset that all these freshmen were going to have to play. Obviously, you do that in a controlled fashion the best way you can,” Hylan said. “You don’t want kids getting hurt or get scared away. We run a small squad. We have like 30 guys a year in the program.”
The 2020 edition of the Huskies were going to be led by two senior captains in defenseman Alex Amendola and midfielder Kyle Gagliardi. Hylan was confident they were ready to take the reins as leaders to help guide the plethora of Morgan underclassmen.
“Alex was a four-year varsity player. He wasn’t always a starter, but he always got on-field time. He took to the sport and found a passion for it. He always worked in the offseason. He was a leader by example with play on the field and in practice. He’ll be paying at Nichols College next year,” said Hylan. “Kyle was the kind of person that knew there were jobs and tasks that needed to get done, and he would make sure they would get done. If he was the guy to do it or delegate. He cheered louder than the fans if he wasn’t in the game, and he was a liaison for the coaches.”
Hylan expected to the Huskies would have some continuity on offense from the season prior with some returning top scorers in Matt Lee and Tim Lichack. The defense would have some solid experience as well with Amendola returning as well as fellow senior defenseman Jon Fiorello.
“You always have your preseason dreams but the season always tells different in terms of injuries or people don’t reach the expected level,” Hylan said. “Offensively, we were lucky to return two of our top-five point leaders Matt Lee and Tim Lichack. Matt and Tim were going to be setting up and creating a lot of offensive opportunities. On defense, we had Alex and Jon Fiorello, who was a four year contributor on the varsity field.”
One of the areas of flux for Morgan was going to be in the midfield. Outside of Gagliardi, there were a lot of places that would have been ironed out during the preseason and early-goings of the regular season.
“The midfield was going to be an area of rebuilding. We had Kyle there, of course, and other seniors like Liam Trahant and Tyler Forchelli. To help ease the underclassmen into play, my thought was that I would have each senior have their own line and fill the other two positions with underclassmen,” Hylan said. “Graduating all those seniors last year we lost a lot in the midfield. I like to have evolution of each midfield line by grade so they have experience as they move on through the years. That’s best case scenario, but you have to piece together what you’ve got.”
As for goalie, Coach Hylan knew that they had graduated a good one in Matt Luchuk. The future looked bright though with a solid freshman keeper coming into the program.
“Abraham Hulls-Adams freshman came to our Sticks for Soldiers event, and we were comfortable going with him. If it worked out, he would be the first player in Morgan history to have a four-year varsity starter at goalie,” said Hylan. “He was filling some big shoes. I was a three-year starting goalie, but he would be the first if everything went according to plan. He’s a very promising player.”
Morgan was also slated to have first-year assistant coach Dennis Forbes this year to help fill out the staff. Like Hylan, Forbes is a Morgan alumnus and was committed to see the boys’ lacrosse program be a major player in the Shoreline Conference.
“Dennis Forbes was going to be coaching the defensive side of things. Both of us are former Morgan players and graduates. We have deep roots and our families were part of starting up the Morgan program,” said Hylan. “It feels amazing to see the interest still there in the town. It feels great to take on the program, my father was the original head coach and some family friends have taken it on since then, too. There have only been three head coaches in school history before me; I’m the fourth. It feels pretty special. My assistant coach would certainly be the next if he hangs inn there. He’s a great coach.”
As for the future, one of Hylan chief concerns going forward for his players is the lost time for development for many of his players. Hylan believes that his players have already bonded through several preseason activities, and he hopes they will all return with the same vigor for the sport come 2021.
“The freshmen have lost an entire year of experience. Luckily this past year we had a lot of preseason and offseason leagues and events like Sticks for Soldiers where they got to play together and get familiar. We also did an indoor box-style lacrosse program through the winter. We had a great showing,” said Hylan. “The sophomores and the juniors this coming year will be bumping up. They are skilled, vital players on the team. We can only hope the desire and passion of the freshman paired with the skill set of the upperclassmen will be a recipe for a successful season.”
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