With the Section 1 teams opening their first day of practices Monday, we’ll really get in the swing of things in terms of previews. I’ve already sent an email to all coaches regarding team capsules. I’ll be posting those soon, in addition to outlooks for each class, players to watch and, of course, a preseason top 10 poll.
I was up in Springfield, Mass., covering Iona’s men’s and women’s basketball teams in the MAAC tournament Monday, but my colleague Mike Zacchio hit a couple of schools to see how the first day of practice was going. Below is his story on how Suffern is not focused on the success achieved last season.
First, here are three videos Mike shot while in Suffern.
Future bright for Mounties
SUFFERN The Mounties are doing their best to play and live in the moment; forgetting the past — both good and bad.
That means putting last season’s state semifinal loss in the back of their minds; it also means forgetting about Nike and U.S. Lacrosse ranked them 22nd in the nation during its preseason poll.
“Part of it is: 2013 is over; it doesn’t necessarily translate into success in 2014,” Mounties coach John Callanan said. “The only important game for us is, essentially, the next game we’re playing. We try to focus day-by-day and not get ahead of ourselves.”
The hype for Suffern is off the charts. With every player back from last year and only one senior in the bunch, the future is very bright for the Mounties, who already have seven Division-I commits.
Despite churning out All-Americans on what seems like a yearly basis, Suffern has never won a state championship.
“We’ve had a lot (of All-Americans) and it’s always just been bad luck — things don’t go our way,” said Suffern sophomore goaltender Mikaila Cheeseman, who has already committed to the University of Pennsylvania. “I think we have such great potential, so I think if things go our way, we have a great chance (to win a state title).”
While bringing that elusive state title would be an honor to all of the girls on the team for the school, it would also be an emotional and special achievement for a group that has predominately been playing together for the last 10 years.
“It would kind of show just how much our hard work has paid off,” said junior Baley Parrott, who is committed to Ohio State University. “Lacrosse has been all of our lives, ever since we stepped on the field in third grade.”
Suffern had the upper hand in last year’s Class A state semifinal against Baldwinsville, leading 8-6 with 11 minutes left in the game, when it collapsed. The Bees had defeated Suffern in their season opener earlier that year.
“I think our youth kind of showed in the last 10 minutes of the game,” she said. “We made some really stupid mistakes and ended up losing it.”
Parrott said that the team has been “counting down the days” until this season would get underway, so it could begin its quest for revenge.
“(Getting back to the semifinals) is something that we’ve wanting since we lost that day last year,” Parrott added.
Part of what makes the Mounties so successful is its large, supporting coaching cast. While Callanan is billed as the “head coach” on paper, even he admits that the staff is all pretty much “co-coaches,” with each bringing their own unique expertise.
Callanan and Bonnie Sullivan handle the defense, while Mike Drab and Mike Sullivan handle the offense. Eddie Cheeseman, Mikaila’s father and brother of former Suffern All-American goalie, Jim, handles the Mounties’ three goaltenders.
“I already know my daughter’s communion is on the day (we play) Darien (Conn.) and we won’t be able to make that game, but it’s almost an afterthought because we’re so strong as far as the instruction and how each of us manage the kids,” Callanan said. “I think (the girls) feel like they’re properly managed.”
Other Division-I commits for the Mounties include: senior Danielle Dgheim (American) and juniors Caitlin Leary (UConn), Regina Sharp (Rutgers), Dana Gisonno (Rutgers) and Tonianne Magnelli (Boston University).