High-SchoolMassachusetts: Lacross

Wellesley went undefeated in the 2011 regular season, entering the state tournament as the No. 1 seed and the overwhelming favorite to claim the Division 2 championship. But a loss to upstart Medfield (the eventual state champ) in the East sectional semifinals taught the Raiders a valuable lesson.

“It’s not about the team you are at the start of the season,” says coach Rocky Batty. “It’s about the team you are at the end. We learned that last year, and we have to remember that as we get ready for this season.”

Batty is wise to put the emphasis on the end of the season, because Wellesley enters 2012 with some big question marks dotting the lineup. The team graduated 60 percent of its offense from last year, which puts pressure on some inexperienced players.

“It may take us some time to figure it out,” says Batty. “We need someone to score goals and contribute offensively, but we have all season to find out who can do the job.”

The coach is less concerned about his team’s defense. In fact, Batty raves about his back end, because the Raiders have a talented stable of defensive players, led by one of the nation’s top goalies in senior Connor Darcey. Rated No. 65 nationally in the ESPNHS 100 (No. 8 among goalies), Darcey stopped 71 percent of the shots he faced last season. Senior longstick middies Ryan Cassidy and Adam Johnson are both experienced starters, as are senior defensemen Cole Bouley and Daniel Elfman, which means it will be tough to get to Darcey, let alone score on him.

Senior midfielder Oliver Saffery (15 goals, 13 assists last year) is the No. 61 player in the ESPNHS 100, and senior Peter Crane scored 32 goals last year. “I think we’ll be fun to watch,” Batty says. “If we can score in transition, we should be right in the thick of things come June.”

Follow Mike Grimala on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala).

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