Editor’s note: This is the eighth in a series of stories about the effects of the cancellation of the spring sports season. 

Gray-New Gloucester’s Drew LaCerda, right, muscles his way toward the goal while being defended by a Erskine Academy player last year. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The taste of success and accomplishment left Drew LaCerda and the Gray-New Gloucester boys lacrosse team wanting more this season.

They’ll never know what flavor the follow-up would have been, but LaCerda and this year’s graduating class will always have what ended up being their last lacrosse season together to look back fondly on.

It certainly was a memorable one for the Patriots, who were playing just their second varsity season last year.

“The season last year was full of fond memories as a program and individually for myself,” LaCerda said. “With us only losing two regular-season games as a team. With our program winning our first (quarterfinal) playoff game. Then my accomplishments last year, I will always look back on fondly with the amount of goals I scored.”

The Patriots fell one goal short of reaching the state final, but LaCerda had no shortage of goals, scoring 64 to pace the team’s high-scoring offense.

“It’s tremendously impressive for him to do that,” Patriots coach Kris Parkin said. “And he still had his fair share of assists, and we had a lot of other kids in double-digit scoring also last year. It wasn’t just the Drew Show.”

“I have to give credit for my successful season to my teammates, who gave me the opportunities to create scoring chances by either running the offense correctly, giving me space to do my thing when it was appropriate, or recognizing when I was open for a good shot. Or when I had a mismatch on defense,” LaCerda said. “I wouldn’t have been able to have such a successful season as I did last year without the help of my teammates.”

The foundation for LaCerda’s high-scoring campaign and the Patriots’ near-miss at a state final berth was built when LaCerda was a freshman. Parkin had known LaCerda previously, being a teacher at Gray-New Gloucester Middle School while LaCerda was a student there. He knew of LaCerda’s athleticism from middle-school soccer and ski club, but quickly discovered his lacrosse abilities as a freshman, which was the second year of the program that Parkin helped create.

“It was pretty clear to me he was going to be an attackman, especially with his left hand,” Parkin said. “And right off the bat the thing I think myself and the coaching staff saw was his ability to shoot with a high velocity. He’s got an incredibly powerful shot.”

Parkin said LaCerda had his “fair share” of goals and cracked into the starting lineup as a freshman. He then scored 20-plus goals as a sophomore during the Patriots’ first varsity season, in which they won a preliminary playoff game.

Last year’s state semifinals run wasn’t a surprise to Parkin, who knew the talent the team possessed beyond LaCerda’s scoring.

“It’s really important to note that he benefited tremendously from a very well-rounded and hard-playing midfield line,” Parkin said, pointing out the likes of classmates Scott Lynch, Gabe Gendreau, Danny Stash and Hunter Brown. “They really played unselfishly, and Drew, he’s just a natural finisher. His shot, more often than not, finds the cage.”

Gray-New Gloucester’s Drew LaCerda, right, is congratulated by a teammate after he scored a goal during a game against Erskine Academy last year. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Parkin said he looks at the midfield as the backbone of any successful lacrosse team, and he thinks he had a good one that would have been seniors this year. The Patriots also had to fill some holes offensively, defensively and in goal, but LaCerda and Parkin believe they had to pieces to plug those up.

So what was the encore for LaCerda and the Patriots this year?

“I think anything short of playing (in the state championship game at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland) would have been disappointing, and I think they believed it,” Parkin said. “They believed that it was a very distinct possibility that if they worked right and they played hard that that was going to happen. I think they really believed that. And I did too, to be honest.”

LaCerda said many of his teammates played indoor lacrosse during the winter to improve their games. He said he would have done the same if it weren’t for school and work, but to make up for it he did wall-ball and shooting practice on his own, watched film from last year to see what he could have done better, and he spent time in the weight room. His teammates were in there with him.

Parkin saw potential for another standout season for LaCerda, and maybe even more goals.

“I think he would have had another very impressive year,” Parkin said. “You know, just one more year of experience under his belt, and the confidence going in that he knows he could do that.”

LaCerda now knows he won’t have that chance, with his senior season wiped away before it even began.

“I know myself and all of the guys on the team were super-excited to get back out on the field as a team this year. I know all of the seniors, including myself, are especially disappointed to not be able to wear the GNG jersey on the field for the last time,” LaCerda said, adding that he’s missing being with his teammates during this time.

Parkin said he is also missing the team, and has called not having a spring season “strange.”

“I’d take all those things (like odd-timed practices) back in a minute just to be out there with the boys, to see them, and just to watch them compete because they’re a great group,” he added.

Parkin doesn’t know how many goals LaCerda would have scored (likely more than 100 for his varsity career), or exactly how far he and the team would have gone if this season had happened, but he knows what LaCerda and his classmates are leaving behind.

“He’s going to leave some really, really big shoes to fill. We may never see anything like that again at Gray, in terms of that just production,” Parkin said. “I think it’s that whole senior group.”


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