High school boys lacrosse: Watertown duo looks to lead team after last year's unbeaten season

Mar. 29—WATERTOWN — Last season proved to be a landmark campaign for the Watertown boys lacrosse team.

The Cyclones accomplished a program first by going undefeated in the Frontier League before making another successful push in the postseason.

Watertown lost a core of leaders to graduation last year, but will now turn to a pair of midfielders — Jack Adams and Nico Spaziani — for leadership this season.

"We lost a lot of our scoring from the kids that graduated last year," Watertown coach Brian Navarra said. "With Nico and Jack, this will be their third year on varsity, they've played since they were freshmen and they've certainly grown since then, and now it's their year. Even though they're only juniors, it's their time to shine."

The pair has experience and poise beyond their years as natural leaders.

"They basically are both going to need to be, and both can be, do-it-all middies," Navarra said. "They'll play offense, defense, clear the ball, they're both on man-up and Jack will be on man-down, absolutely, they're going to be relied on heavily for just about everything and leadership as well. Leadership on and off the field as well.

"We're going to rely on them very heavily to fill the void from last year and kind of go above and beyond."

Both made an impact offensively last year as Spaziani recorded a team-leading 62 points, including firing in 41 goals, which ranked second on the team.

"Nico has had a great couple years and now he'll be our man offensively," Navarra said. "And he'll draw most likely the best defender, so we're going to be relying on him very heavily, well both of them every heavily, but he's got such a good shot offensively, he's just an incredible weapon dodging and shooting on offense. He's going to garner a lot of attention, which will open up other things for other guys on the team and that's where our team game will certainly help benefit us.

"He's going to be one of top players in the area and one of the best middies in Section 3."

"We're pretty confident coming into this season," Spaziani said. "We're definitely going to miss a few players from last year, but we definitely have players that can fill that gap coming up from JV, it will be a good season."

Meanwhile, Adams totaled 46 points of his own, including generating 27 goals, which was third best on the team.

"Jack's kind of literally the jack of all trades, honestly, no pun intended," Navarra said. "Jack's played a kind of complementary role the last couple years and now he's going to have to play a major role in our offense and not only just scoring. But creating, Jack has great vision and he's a great feeder as well as a great shooter, so just like in basketball, he can create and create open shots for other people as well as create shots for himself.

"Besides that, he's going to clear the ball and he plays on man-up and man-down, so definitely a much larger role this year and I know he'll step into that and handle that very easily."

"I just like to get up and down and play both sides of the ball and play offense, but also play defense." Adams said. "Just playing between the lines and help out any way I can."

The Cyclones lost a ton of firepower from last year's team, notably leading scorer Jack Clough (43 goals) and Mick O'Donnell, who tallied 60 points, including a team-best 44 assists.

"We'll definitely have to pick up the slack from what we lost last year and I think we've both worked so hard in the offseason trying to do whatever it takes to help the team win," Adams said.

Also lost to graduation was standout goalie Patrick Duah and defenseman Joe Girardi, who both anchored the defensive side of the field.

Even with these leaders gone, Navarra is encouraged with his returning players.

"We lost our goalie in Patrick Duah, who was a phenomenal two-year player for us and he's being replaced by a young guy, a young freshman whose stepping in and doing a really nice job," Navarra said.

Senior Antonio Marzano returns to play in the midfield, with senior Jack Rathbun and junior Kage Loftus returning to play up front at attack.

Returning to play defense are seniors Devin Connell and Owen VanBrocklin, as well as juniors Bennett Pistner and Noah Fargo.

"We've got a strong group of guys coming back and coming up from JV, too, that really can help and definitely make a big impact at the varsity level," Adams said.

Last year, Watertown forged a perfect 10-0 record in the league before moving onto sectionals where it defeated Auburn, 12-8, in home quarterfinal game before being outlasted by Fayetteville-Manlius, 14-8, in a Class B semifinal at Liverpool.

"It was disappointing, because our goal every year is to make it to that sectional final," Spaziani said. "Just the past couple years we've fallen short. This year we're feeling confident, we should be able to make it to the sectional championship (game) this year."

It marked the third straight year that the team, which finished with 13 wins on the season, had reached the semifinal round in sectional play.

"As always expectations are very high, our goal is to win the Frontier League, go undefeated in the Frontier League and get past that sectional semifinal game," Navarra said. "We've kind of been stuck there for several years and we're trying to do a little bit more and do a little bit more this year so we can get past that mark; it's always tough playing some of those good Syracuse schools, Class B is loaded again this year, so it will be tough."

To open the season, Watertown will clash with Carthage as it will host its rival at 7 p.m. Monday on the Case Middle School turf.

"The league looks strong this year, with South Jefferson being good and General Brown's always tough, and I think Carthage is certainly getting better then they've been the past few years," Navarra said. "And Indian River, they have a new coach and I'm hearing some good things about them, so I definitely think it's going to be a very competitive league, which is exciting, it's good to know you go out every night and you've got a tough game, it keeps the kids focused."

"Last year was fun, we accomplished a lot," Adams added. "I think with that experience we're confident as a group coming into this season."