Boston High School: Reid Leveillee

LONGMEADOW, Mass. -- It didn’t take long for first-year Longmeadow boys’ lacrosse head coach Ryan Liebel to figure out the kind of talent he had for the 2013 season.

“When I was at tryouts, I just said to myself, ‘This is awesome.’”

For the then-25-year-old coach, an alumnus, himself, of Longmeadow and a standout at UMass-Amherst, his return home was truly an ideal situation. After a season as the head of Belchertown lacrosse, Liebel returned to his roots, taking over the Lancers program last season.

[+] EnlargeRyan Liebel
Scott Barboza/ESPNIn his first year at the helm, Longmeadow alum Ryan Liebel led the Lancers to a 25-0 season and a Division 2 state championship.
The bar was set extraordinarily high for both coach and team in that first season, as the Lancers capped an undefeated season as Division 2 state champions. With that, Liebel was named Coach of the Year by ESPN Boston.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement, however.

With little surprise, the No. 2-ranked Lancers have started the season unbeaten yet again, improving to 4-0 with a 9-5 win over No. 8 BC High. Yet, after the Saturday matinee at home, Liebel was still ruminating over the things that aren’t quite right with the Lancers early on.

“We had some very big role players from last year who’ve graduated,” Liebel said, “so we’re still kind of finding out where everybody fits the best.”

Namely, the Lancers lost an All-American level midfielder in Keegan Dudeck, who scored more than a few timely, important goals in their state championship run last year.

But, for the most part, Longmeadow’s core returns in tact this season, starting at the faceoff “X” with one of the state’s best draw men in Drew Kelleher.

“The faceoff and transition game is absolutely huge in terms of setting the tone for the game,” Liebel said. “So when you have the chance to have a faceoff guy like Drew Kelleher, it’s absolutely unreal to have, especially at a time like now, when our offense is struggling with things like time of possession.”

Watching Longmeadow any time during the last season-plus, it becomes immediately evident that the Lancers thrive on defense and the transition game. Hardly a motion is wasted, moving the ball from the defensive half of the field and through the midfield. It’s what Liebel has prided the program on, and it comes with the continual repetitive motion of practice drills.

“It really comes down to working hard in practice – lots of long practices,” senior goaltender Matt Draymore said. “Then, when we come to the games, we just have to play all four quarters.”

Adding on how the Lancers have taken on the visage of their head coach, Draymore said, “I think we all have really good relationships with him, but he’s really hard on us. He really pushes us to get better. It’s a really good combination.”

In front of Draymore, the Lancers return a deep core of veteran defensemen. Senior captain Reid Leveillee returns as a preseason All-State selection, while junior Daniel Cotnoir and senior long-stick midfielder Jack Ryan provide additional proven experience on the starting defense.

“They’re just absolutely the best role models you could hope for,” Liebel said. “Three of our five captains are defensive players and they’re what’s keeping us together right now. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t think we’d be where we are right now.”

The Lancers’ attack is still rounding into shape in the early going, with returning senior attack Zach Lukas sidelined due to injury. In his absence, that’s given a few of Longmeadow’s younger options a chance to work their way into the rotation, including the younger siblings of a few of the Lancers’ aforementioned tone-setters. Sophomore Will Lukas and freshman Cam Kelleher has seen significant playing time alongside returners, such as senior midfielder Max Chipouras.

While the offense tries to find its foothold, the Lancers will rely on what has their winning streak at 29 games and counting – a commitment to defense, having surrendered less than three goals a game on average.

That, and a commitment to never becoming complacent.

“Right now, we’re just fighting to make the playoffs with everybody else,” Drew Kelleher said. “Coach pushes us really hard, he really knows how to get the best out of us. He leads a high-intensity practice every day and we know that makes us better.”

ESPN Boston boys' lacrosse All-State team

July, 1, 2013
G – Nick Marrocco, Jr., Duxbury
In his first season starting between the pipes for the Dragons, Marrocco was named an Eastern Mass. All-American while averaging 13 saves per game. Also a standout hockey player during the winter season, Marrocco is committed to Georgetown and was named Most Valuable Player of the All-American game.

D – Rob Breed, Sr., Xaverian
One of the galvanizing forces behind the Hawks’ run to the program’s first state lacrosse title, the Eastern Mass. All-American was tasked with shutting down the opponent’s top attacks.

D – Ben Cox, Sr., Medfield
Named the Tri-Valley League’s Defensive Most Valuable player, Cox was a four-year member of the lacrosse team and part of back-to-back MIAA Division 2 state championship lacrosse teams. During the winter, Cox finished second on the Warriors hockey team in scoring, posting 12 goals for 38 points in 21 games. He will continue his lacrosse career at the University of Vermont.

D – John Sexton, Jr., Lincoln-Sudbury
The Notre Dame commit was a jack of all trades for the Warriors this season, taking faceoffs, playing on man-up situations and providing lockdown defense. Sexton was named an Eastern Mass. All-American and is a three-time Dual County League All-Star.

LSM – Nick Brozowski, Soph., Concord-Carlisle
A ground ball machine, the Maryland commit was named an Eastern Mass. All-American in addition to Dual County League All-Star honors.

M – Dan Delaney, Sr., Lincoln-Sudbury
The Eastern Mass. All-American tallied 38 goals and 20 assists while leading the Warriors to a Division 1 final appearance. Delaney will continue his lacrosse career at Fairfield University next year.

M – Keegan Dudeck, Sr., Longmeadow
The Lancers captain closed out his career on a high with a five-goal outburst in their Division 2 state championship win over Medfield. Dudeck tallied 38 goals and 17 assists for his senior season.

M – Jack Wheeler, Jr., Xaverian
Turning in a dazzling offensive display at Harvard Stadium, Wheeler was a key component to the Hawks’ first-ever lacrosse championship. The Boston University commit and Eastern Mass. All-American tallied 42 goals with 15 assists this year.

A – Jay Drapeau, Jr., Westford Academy
Among the state scoring leaders in each of the last two seasons, Drapeau ripped off 71 goals in 2013. The Loyola commit was an ESPN Boston MIAA Lacrosse All-State second-teamer last year and also was a Hockey All-State Honorable Mention during the winter season.

A – Andrew Melvin, Sr., Medfield
The Eastern Mass. All-American helped lead the Warriors back to the Division 2 state championship game. Melvin will continue his lacrosse career at Bates College.

A – Nico Panepinto, Sr., Needham
Named ESPN Boston’s third annual “Mr. Lacrosse” winner last week, the Fairfield University signee finished his high school career with 179 goals and 159 assists. Panepinto, also a standout on the football field for the Rockets, was a two-time Eastern Mass. All-American and ESPN Boston All-State selection.

Specialist – Derek Osbahr, Sr., St. John’s Prep
Osbahr was an offensive weapon for the Eagles at the faceoff X as the best draw-winner in Eastern Mass. Also a member of Prep’s Super 8 hockey squad, the Eastern Mass. All-American will continue his lacrosse career at Bentley University.

G – Ryan Goodall, Sr., Dover-Sherborn
D – Jack Ullrich, Jr., Hingham
D – Jay Walsh, Sr., Duxbury
D – Ian Yanulis, Sr, BC High
M – Caleb Brodie, Jr., Hingham
M – Brendan Flaherty, Sr., Beverly
M – Mike Panepinto, Jr., Needham
M – Roby Williams, Jr., Wayland
A – Hunter Burdick, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
A – Nick Pino, Sr., North Andover
A – Tyler Reilly, Sr., Grafton
Specialist – Drew Kelleher, Jr., Longmeadow

Honorable Mention
Dom Abate, Sr. M, Beverly
Tommy Bannan, Sr. G, Hingham
Kevin Bletzer, Jr. M, Catholic Memorial
Rogers Boylan, Sr. D, Dover-Sherborn
Evan Boynton, Sr. D, Concord-Carlisle
Mike Carbone, Sr. A, Marshfield
Tucker Ciessau, Sr. A, Scituate
Matt Comerford, Sr. G, Reading
Pat Cronin, Jr. A, BC High
Matt Crowell, Jr. M, Medfield
Mark Dente, Sr. A, Reading
Kevin Farrell, Sr. FOGO, Billerica
Chris Frye, Sr. A, Walpole
Andrew Gallahue, Jr. A, St. John's Prep
Henry Guild, Sr. M, Lincoln-Sudbury
Carson Hart, Sr. M, Wayland
Keifer Heckman, Sr. A, Peabody
Eamon Hunter, Soph. LSM, Lincoln-Sudbury
Joe Igoe, Sr. M, Framingham
Reid Leveillee, Jr. D, Longmeadow
Giles Ober, Sr. G, Algonquin
Kieran Presley, Sr. M, Amherst
Brian Rotatori, Sr. M, Grafton
Drew Smiley, Jr. A, St. John's (Shrewsbury)
D.J. Smith, Sr. G, Billerica
Robert Treiber, Jr. G, Medfield
Luc Valenza, Sr. D, Foxborough
Tyler Weeks, Sr. D, Andover
Sam Wheaton, Sr. G, Minnechaug

Coach of the Year -- Ryan Liebel, Longmeadow