Globe North High School Lacrosse

Westford captains are leaders by example

Senior captain Zach Ingalls (25), in action against South Hadley, is a strong influence on freshmen. Senior captain Zach Ingalls (25), in action against South Hadley, is a strong influence on freshmen. (Photos By Mark Wilson for The Boston Globe)
By Arielle Aronson
May 19, 2011

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Stepping onto the field before a recent match against Acton-Boxborough, Westford Academy coach Gus Bickford noticed that his two senior captains, Zach Ingalls and Jason Welch, were already on the field, warming up freshman goalie Peter Hargrave.

“Number one, these kids love to be out on the field,’’ said Bickford. “They’re out there after practice and before you even get there. [The captains] are always there to make sure everybody is getting ready for the game and getting fired up.’’

Their devotion, leadership, and athleticism have fueled the Grey Ghosts’ pursuit of a Dual County League Large title, as well as aiding in the development of two freshmen into key cogs for Westford (11-6 overall, 6-2 DCL).

Attack Jay Drapeau is third on the team in scoring with 53 points (34 goals, 19 assists). And Hargrave has stepped into a position, goal, that was a big void at the start of the season.

In his ninth year at the helm of the program, Bickford said Drapeau’s first season reminds him of three other freshmen he has coached, all of whom have gone on to play Division 1 lacrosse: Mark Goodrich (Johns Hopkins); Dave Lawson (Duke); and Art Kelly (University of Massachusetts Amherst).“Jay shoots real quick and can cradle and shoot and pass and score with both hands, which is critical,’’ Bickford said. “To be able to do that as a freshman is why he has been so successful.’’

Drapeau, who also played varsity hockey this winter, plays on the top attacking line with Welch and sophomore Ian Speliotis. He is just 5-foot-8, but he takes advantage of his smaller frame and speed to beat opposing defenses.

“I like to dodge and then dish,’’ Drapeau said. “Because I’m small, I can do that well since I can run a little faster and get through bigger people.’’

Drapeau has recorded at least one point in all but two games, but he is modest about his success, noting that playing alongside Welch and Ingalls has been beneficial.

“It’s been good to play with them,’’ Drapeau said. “They’re good dishers and they always find a way to get open. They have been really encouraging.’’

Bickford credited his two captains for helping to foster a team chemistry that is one of the best he’s ever had. “Not only are they the leaders of the team when it comes to points, but they are leaders in the way that they will fight to the last whistle and just in how they put in the effort and carry that through,’’ said the coach.

Ingalls, a midfielder who takes the face-offs, is also a two-year captain of the football team and will play that sport at Merrimack this fall. Ingalls is tied for third on the team in scoring with 53 points (38 goals, 15 assists), and his skills were on full display in the game against Acton-Boxborough. He won six of seven face-offs in the first half and was firing shots on net all game long, scoring twice.

“Zach is probably the best athlete on the field,’’ Bickford said. “He has a fire in his belly that he just doesn’t want to lose and he just has a rifle of a shot.’’

Welch only plays lacrosse. Like Drapeau, Welch is equally skilled at cradling, passing, and shooting both right-handed and left-handed. He can race through defenses to get a quality shot off, as he did multiple times in the Acton-Boxborough game, only to be stopped by Colonial goalie Jack Rogers, who made 23 saves in an outstanding performance.

“He’s pretty explosive and can score at any time,’’ Ingalls said of Welch. “He’s good with the ball and finding the open man. Just the way he practices and his knowledge of the game, he knows where he has to be in every situation.’’

Both Ingalls and Welch work with Drapeau frequently on offense, but they also have assisted Hargrave in goal. The position was a question mark after Mark Paradiso graduated, but Hargrave has filled the spot capably. Ingalls, Welch, and the rest of the Grey Ghosts shoot hard on him in practices, and the results show in games.

“They have definitely helped me adjust to playing varsity,’’ Hargrave said. “At half time they’re always talking and letting me know stuff I should be doing if I’m not. They’re pretty good leaders. They really run this team.’’

Danish Cup honors Peabody coach The Peabody and Bishop Fenwick boys’ squads faced off in the inaugural Robert Danish Cup on Saturday.

Danish, originally an assistant football coach and baseball coach at Bishop Fenwick, started the lacrosse program at Peabody in 1977. The idea to hold the game between the crosstown rivals came from Peabody coach Kevin Houlden, who played for Danish in high school and then joined him as an assistant coach in 1988 before taking over in 1994.

“Bob has always been a great mentor to me and he is an outstanding man,’’ Houlden said. “I started talking to my assistant coach [Anthony O’Donnell] about all these games for ex-coaches as memorials, and thought wouldn’t it be great to have one as a tribute instead.’’

With Danish in attendance, Peabody won, 14-4, and Danish presented the cup to the Tanners before speaking to both teams.

“It made it very special to have him there,’’ Holden said. “He was very touched and thought it was a nice thing that his name will live on far after he’s gone in Peabody lacrosse.’’

In a first, Andover beats Framingham The Andover girls beat Framingham for the first time in program history last Thursday, 14-4. The Golden Warriors were 0-10 against the Flyers. Andover followed with a 20-8 romp over Chelmsford to extend its win streak to 11 games.

Arielle Aronson can be reached at