College lacrosse season has (finally) begin for local student-athletes

  • Hopkinton High graduate Colby Quiet competes for the Keene State men's lacrosse team on March 27 against Western Connecticut in Danbury, Conn. Quiet, a freshman midfielder, had a goal and two assists in the game, his collegiate debut, and won 14 of 25 faceoffs to help the Owls to a 17-5 win. PETER BLANCHARD—Keene State College Athletics

  • ABOVE: Kearsarge High graduate Justin Norris winds up to take a shot for the Keene State men's lacrosse team on March 27 against Western Connecticut in Danbury, Conn. Norris, a senior midfielder, had two goals and nine shots to help the Owls to a 17-5 season-opening win.BELOW: Hopkinton High graduate Colby Quiet competes for Keene State against Western Connecticut. Quiet, a freshman midfielder, had a goal and two assists and dominated in the faceoff circle in his collegiate debut. PETER BLANCHARD photos / Keene State College Athletics

  • Concord High graduate Josh Owen on the field for the New England College men's lacrosse team. Owen, a junior at NEC, had three goals and two assists through the first three games of the 2021 season for the Pilgrims. New England College Athletics—Courtesy

  • Kearsarge Regional High graduate David Benjamin competes for the New England College men's lacrosse team. Benjamin, a senior defenseman, started the first three games of the year for NEC and is third on the team in ground balls (four). New England College Athletics—Courtesy

  • Justin Norris Keene State College Athletics—Courtesy

  • Liam Flanagan Keene State College Athletics—Courtesy

  • Chase Chamberlin Keene State College Athletics—Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 3/31/2021 3:25:36 PM

The wait was long, but it was worth it for Kearsarge High graduate Justin Norris.

“We were all super excited, I think a little anxious too, but it felt good to be out there doing what we’ve been wanting to do this entire pandemic,” Norris said. “It felt like old times.”

Norris, now a senior at Keene State College, was referring to Saturday’s season-opening game for the Keene men’s lacrosse team, a 17-5 road win against Western Connecticut. Like all spring student-athletes, Norris’s 2020 season was cut short by the then-novel coronavirus, and he’s been waiting to get back on the field ever since. His wait, however, lasted longer than most.

Keene State started its spring 2021 academic semester three weeks later than normal, which pushed back preseason for the lacrosse team. Then, after the first week of practice, Norris and his two housemates, who are also lacrosse players, tested positive for COVID-19. That meant the Owls had to take another two-week break before resuming practice.

Fortunately for Norris and his housemates, the only symptoms they experienced were a loss of smell and taste.

“We’re in that age range where it wasn’t too bad and we didn’t have any repercussions,” Norris said. “We got cleared to come out of quarantine and we hopped back on the field and we did our thing, it wasn’t too bad.”

Norris said the extra long layoff had him a little more anxious than usual at the start of Saturday’s game, but he played his way through it and finished with two goals and a team-high nine shots from his midfield position. The Owls as a whole showed little rust considering their sporadic preseason.

“We started two weeks before that first game, which is really not that much time, we usually start January 28, so we were in a little bit of a panic mode,” Keene State coach Mark Theriault said. “But in that two weeks I felt that we really did a lot of great work getting ready and we prepared really well for Western Connecticut and the results showed that, which was exciting.” 

Theriault, now in his 21st year as the Owls head coach, knew he didn’t have to spend too much of his preseason getting the goalie ready. That’s because senior Chase Chamerblin, a Bow High graduate, is in between the pipes for the Owls. Chamberlin started 13 of 17 games for Keene State in 2019, helping the Owls finish 11-6 and reach the Division III NCAA Tournament for a fourth straight year, and earning Second Team All-Little East Conference honors in the process.

“(Chamberlin) has lots of game experience, and playoff experience, so for us to have him be able to just step right into this year is great,” Theriault said. “We know we don’t have to worry that much about things back there because he’s there and he’s quarterbacking the defense and doing a great job.”

There was some worry about faceoffs after both of Keene State’s senior faceoff specialists decided not to rejoin the team this year, but freshman Colby Quiet from Hopkinton seems to have solved that problem. The stat sheet said Quiet won 14 of the 25 faceoffs against Western Connecticut, but that statistic doesn’t tell the real story.

“I don’t think the numbers on the faceoffs were indicative of what (Quiet) did,” Theriault said. “It said he lost a few, but in actuality he won the faceoff we just didn’t get the ball. He was pretty much dominant the entire day.”

Quiet also finished with a goal, two assists and a team-high five ground balls in his collegiate debut. That performance impressed Theriault, but it didn’t surprise him.

“When we saw Colby during our fall little season we knew that we had a gem,” the coach said. “He’s a hard worker, he’s a grinder and he’s doing a lot of different things on the field, from faceoffs to offensive midfielder. We’re really excited to have him.”

Like Norris was at Kearsarge, Quiet was a star running back and lacrosse player during his high school days in Hopkinton, just like Norris was at Kearsarge. Norris initially went to Assumption College to play lacrosse, but he transfered before ever suiting up. As a freshman at Keene State in 2019, Norris played in 14 games and had six goals and two assists. Like his coach, Norris is pleased Quiet has brought his hard-working ways to Keene.

“Colby is amazing. We’re super happy to have him,” Norris said. “He’s a guy that’s willing to do it all.”

Hopkinton’s Liam Flanagan, a senior midfielder, and Kearsarge’s Max Phillips, a sophomore defender, are the other two locals on the Keene State team. Flanagan, a physical presence at 6-foot-4, had five shots and a ground ball against Western Connecticut. He started his collegiate career at American International and played in 14 games for the Yellowjackets in 2018, finishing with nine goals and three assists.

The Keene State women’s lacrosse team also has a pair of Kearsarge graduates on the roster – sophomore attack Jackie DeAngelis and freshman midfielder Alexis Phyllides. DeAngelis has started both games this season for the Owls (0-2) and has four shots. 

New England College

The NEC men’s lacrosse team started the season 2-1 and was scheduled to play its fourth game on Wednesday night at Don Melander Field in Henniker against Trinity, but the game was canceled due to COVID-19 health and safety precautions and protocols.

Kearsarge grad David Benjamin, a senior defender, started the first three games for the Pilgrims and picked up four ground balls, tops among defensemen and third overall on the team. Canterbury’s Charles Hacking, a Belmont High graduate who is now a senior attack at NEC, ranks third on the team in points with six (four goals, two assists). Junior midfielder Josh Owen, a Concord High product, is tied for fourth on the team with five points (three goals, two assists).

Plymouth State

The PSU women’s lacrosse team opened its season on Saturday with a 17-3 win at Rhode Island College. John Stark grad Autumn Nelson, a sophomore midfielder for PSU, started the game and finished with an assist and three ground balls.

The Plymouth State men’s team is 1-1 to start the year with a win at Castelton and a home loss against Eastern Connecticut State. Merrimack Valley grad Jessy Hirwa, a freshman at PSU, is the team's backup goalie and saw eight minutes of action in the win at Castleton in Vermont.




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