Hopkinton High School boys lacrosse coach Dan Norton has a single word that has come to define his 2023 squad: grit.
“That has been our key word this year,” Norton said. “We have already had a bunch of times where we were down in games and battled back. We have shown a lot of toughness.”
The grit and toughness shown by the Hillers is not limited to games, the coach said. Hopkinton has shown itself to be a team that practices hard. Norton said the players are bringing back a “blue collar” mentality to the way they play lacrosse.
Senior captain Luke Beaudet is a perfect example. The midfielder has played through injuries this year and still brought a high level of competitiveness to the field each day. Senior Joe Doyle has similarly stood out for his level of improvement and the leadership he has provided, Norton said.
The Hillers also have four juniors who are playing significant roles. Logan DelPonte is the team’s top scorer, while John Sanda is a strong two-way midfielder.
“He is a throwback kind of kid,” Norton said.
On the defensive line, Jack Provencher and Wyatt Iantosca are leading the way in their junior seasons.
“We are trying to bring back the culture, and I think the kids have really taken a huge step towards that,” Norton said.
In addition to the process goals of continuing to bring that tenacity to the field every day, Hopkinton is hoping to get back to the tournament and make a little noise once it gets there.
“It’s always a goal to qualify for the playoffs and advance in the playoffs, but our schedule is tough,” Norton said. “We have a tough non-league schedule to get us ready for the Tri-Valley League.”
King Philip, Minnechaug and Foxboro are among the talented non-TVL teams on Hopkinton’s slate this spring. In league play, Norton said he is expecting the usual suspects Medfield, Westwood and Dover to be among the strongest teams. Hopkinton will play TVL Large School Division rivals Medfield and Westwood twice, and Norton said he is hoping to see his team’s improvement play out when they tangle with those squads for the second time.
“We want to get back where we belong, in that mix of the top teams,” he said. “We have been improving each game, and we are excited for the second round of playing some of those guys.”
When asked what skill will define the team this spring, Norton went back to the theme of Hillers boys lacrosse for 2023.
“It’s all about toughness,” he said. “We have some kids playing through being nicked up, and I just think, compared to teams in the past, the way we practice and the way we have battled shows a group that just doesn’t give up. It’s a gritty group.”