Senior Bragg McConnell holds high the state championship trophy following Wando’s win over Nation Ford.
Senior Bragg McConnell holds high the state championship trophy following Wando’s win over Nation Ford.
Kaya Steele

Lacrosse team fulfills awaited dominance

Boys team comes out on top after rough season

Revenge. Last year’s loss propelled the boys’ lacrosse team to avenge their state title. A team loaded with seniors refused to graduate without a title. One of these influential seniors is Connor
Neal, a two-time all-state player and a commit to Anderson University to continue his career in the sport. However, Neal recounts that as a commit entering into his final high school season of lacrosse, it felt different than before.

“There’s more expectations but I didn’t try to think of that because you can get over- whelmed,” Neal said. “It’s in the back of my head that I’m playing in college, but it doesn’t really affect me.”

Yet, Neal also recalls that his senior sea- son felt different from those prior due to the fact that they had something to prove after a loss at the state championship this past year.

Senior Nico Boccabella fights for position during the state championship match against Nation Ford. (Paige Danish)

“This season we had something to prove,” Neal said. “So, we kind of kept our whole team, 10 out of 11 starters. We lost in the state championship before so… we just had a revenge season.”

As a senior winning a state title, Neal felt like he had accomplished what he and his team had set out to do all season.

“We all envisioned it to happen, so it was just like the jobs finished,” Neal said. “We all knew in the back of our minds that we’re going to win and that there is no other choice. We were watching film and just how we were playing, we were super confident, there was not one thought in our mind that we were going to lose.”

Nico Boccabella, another senior with copious awards such as being a U.S. All-American and an all-state defensive player, shares a similar sentiment to his teammate.

“Even in the annoying or boring moments, stuff you don’t want to do, I’d still think like I’m never really going to have to do it again. So, I’d take the good parts of it and enjoy it more because it’s the last time I’ll get to do it,” Boccabella said.

Boccabella also leaves behind hopes and dreams for the underclassmen.

“I hope they get the same type of feelings of family that I had when I was a sophomore, freshman, junior, and senior on the team,” Boccabella said. “Those progressions you go through, just gaining leadership roles, and get to enjoy winning and being like a leader… and the same type of stuff that I got.”

Sophomore Pierce Melella and junior Kai Correia celebrate the moment following the state title win. (Kaya Steele)

Although this year’s seniors are soon to be graduated, head lacrosse coach Lance Renes recounts their unique character.

“This group of seniors were different,” Renes said. “Since this group was runner ups as juniors, that increased their motivation.  Compared to the past, I would say what separates them from other seniors is their ability to maintain their composure. They were focused every game and even in tight and close games that had a lot of pressure, they thrived under that pressure.”

Among being motivated, Renes said this year’s seniors were also great leaders.

“This year’s senior class, they decided back in September that they were going to be leaders and lead by example,” Renes said. “They stepped up. They became the spark… I think they showed our younger guys what it means to be a Wando lacrosse player.”

Renes has goals for his seniors as they graduate and move on in life.

“Our goal for every senior that graduates is to take the lessons they’ve learned with Wando lacrosse in terms of how to be a family, how to show respect to everyone they’re around, even opponents and people they disagree with. And to also have a good hard working spirit,” Renes said. “A lot of lessons we learn in sports definitely transfer into life. So, hopefully, the lessons they learn with us and their experience can help them with the adversity they are going to face in college and also help them with the trials and tribulations that will occur as they become young adults.”

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