Hornets’ Boys’ Lacrosse Emphasizing Integrity
Senior captain midfielder Nicholas Chieffo and the Branford-East Haven boys’ lacrosse squad secured a 9-3 victory over Jonathan Law on May 6. Chieffo has been a rock as a leader for the Hornets for the Hornets this spring. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound)
Senior captain defenseman Markus Indeck and the Hornets are emphasizing integrity as they build a solid foundation for the future of the program. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound)
Junior defenseman Cameron Paleski has impressed Head Coach Jim May with his hard work and staunch defense this season. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound)
Throughout the 2021 spring season, Branford-East Haven (Bfd-EH) boys’ lacrosse Head Coach Jim May has been preaching the mantra, “Win the day,” but he isn’t just talking about the score at the final whistle. For Coach May, winning the day is all about growing as a person and a leader at every opportunity.
With a large senior class, May is hoping that having so much leadership will prove huge in forming the future of the program.
Bfd-EH stands with a record of 2-7 on the year after losing two of its three games last week. The Hornets took a 14-7 loss to Amity, defeated Jonathan Law by a 9-3 score, and then lost a 6-3 contest against North Branford in their recent matchups.
All three of Bfd-EH’s games were on the road, starting with a contest at Amity on May 3. Sophomore midfielder Sean Bosworth scored three goals for the Hornets, and senior captain attacker Luke Volpe had two goals in the Hornets’ 14-7 defeat. Senior captain midfielder Nicholas Chieffo had one goal and two assists for Bfd-EH. Junior goalie Aidan Strebel made 10 saves.
Three days later, Bfd-EH took on Jonathan Law and earned a 9-3 victory for its second win of the season. Volpe scored three goals, and Bosworth netted a pair of goals in the victory. Senior attacker Jared Yakimoff had one goal and two assists, while senior attacker Dylan Pyle scored a goal to go with two assists. Strebel made 11 saves in net.
“We went into that game realizing that we were only averaging five a goals game. Lacrosse is an offensive game. We were nervous,” said May, whose co-op squad is primarily composed of Branford athletes. “We thought it would be a close game. It was close as far as the score, but it was never in jeopardy.”
In its last game of the week, Bfd-EH dropped a 6-3 decision to North Branford in another road game on May 8. Yakimoff and Volpe both scored a goal for the Hornets. Chieffo had a goal with an assist in the contest.
Even though the Hornets took a couple of losses on the week, Coach May said that this year’s team never quits, no matter the outcome.
“Amity is the best team that we have played and will be the best team that we play all year. North Branford showed great effort. They controlled the emotions and out-hustled us, but I thought that we played hard,” May said. “We don’t ever give up. We’re in every game if we’re winning or losing. We’re right there. Every team we are going to play is going to be a battle.”
The Hornets are being led by four senior captains in Chieffo, Volpe, defenseman Markus Indeck, and goalie Connor Erickson. Coach May said that all four captains bring something different to the table and that they’ve each grown as leaders throughout their time in the program.
May feels this group of captains is doing a solid job of helping the team’s underclassmen improve.
“They all have their own unique way. They take the younger guys under their wing and are very loyal. They do what they have to do with the younger guys to see what’s going right and what’s going wrong,” said May. “They pick them up in practice in the classroom. There’s so many things those guys do that set them apart. It’s a huge unity those guys have in the younger players.”
Two weeks before the season started, the Hornets had just 13 players on their roster. Coach May then visited Branford Crossfit and spoke with athletes who played other sports at the high school. Three days later, the Hornets’ roster expanded to 31 athletes.
Many of the players who joined the team are seniors who had never previously played lacrosse. Outside of the captains, this year’s Hornets’ senior class features Pyle and Yakimoff; along with midfielders Brennan Hynes, Nicholas Volpe, Matthew Cordero, and Matthew Maebry; as well as defensemen Justin Osler and Peyton Tracy.
May said that despite their limited experience, all the seniors are getting ample playing time and that he’s impressed with the character they displayed simply by coming out for the team.
“Half of them have never played before. They came out realizing that their fellow senior brothers had a short staff. That says it all to me,” May said. “Some guys missed playing their favorite sports last year, and now they have all come out and are contributing. It is a huge tribute saying that, even though they might not know what they’re doing, they’re going to strap on the helmet and support their brothers. They may not think that’s what they’re doing, but that is what they’re doing.”
Outside of the seniors, Coach May has also been also pleased with the play of junior Cameron Paleski and fellow junior Strebel, who is the team’s starting goalkeeper. May said that Paleski and Strebel are two of the hardest workers on the team and two of the best defensive players in the entire Southern Connecticut Conference. The Hornets’ coach expects both of them to continue growing as both athletes and leaders next season.
Coach May said that everyone on his squad needs to bring his A-game if the Hornets want to finish the season strong. Regardless of the results, May wants to see his players keep supporting each other on both the field and in the classroom.
“I want them to end the season with their head high and be able to look themselves in the mirror and say, ‘I did everything I could,’” said May. “Whether we win or lose, they have to have integrity.”