Friday must have been “Dominate the Face-off X Day.”
In Pinkerton Academy’s 19-2 win over Nashua South, junior Cole Frank (16-for-16) and junior Alex Tsetseranos (7-for-7) combined to win all 23 of the game’s face-offs, while, in Massachusetts, Methuen High sophomore Desi Csizmadia also finished 16-for-16 from the circle to lead the Rangers past Tewksbury, 12-3, in a Merrimack Valley Conference contest.
For Frank, this really isn’t anything new. The junior, who has already committed to play at Lehigh University, was an Eagle-Tribune All-Star last year as a sophomore. During the state tournament run, he was perfect, going 20-for-20 against the same Nashua South team, and also was 21-for-23 against Londonderry and won 16 draws against eventual state champion Bishop Guertin.
“Cole has worked hard at it. Like any good face-off guy, he has good athleticism, he’s good on groundballs, he has quick hands and he’s still working at it,” said Pinkerton head coach Steve Gaudreau.
“There’s not just one thing that he does. He offers a variety of different options depending on what other teams are trying to do against him. Most teams right now are using their long-poles against him, a lot of teams are trying to double team him off the face-off and a lot of people are trying to be very physical with him. That’s the latest thing that we are working on. More often than not, he keeps the ball, but we’re just making sure that he has it in a good spot to start up our offense.”
The win for Pinkerton improved the team’s record to 5-3, but the very next day, the Lancers were defeated by Massachusetts powerhouse Hingham, 10-2. Frank finished the game winning 13-of-14 draws.
“We’re kind of in our gauntlet of our Massachusetts schedule right now,” said Gaudreau. “These are really, really good teams that we are facing and we feel pretty good going in knowing that we have a good chance of getting the ball, but again a lot of these teams have just really good pure athletes so we’re just trying to adjust to what they do and get more possessions out of that.”
Backing up Frank is Tsetseranos, who has also done very well but in limited time.
“Alex has been part of the program the last two years and he’s worked with Cole and has backed up Cole up when we need him,” said Gaudreau. “The two of them have done very well on the face-offs all season. I would say the lowest percentage they’ve had in a game is 75 percent.”
NEW RANGER TO THE RESCUE
A year after competing in the Division 1 state tournament, the Methuen Rangers had lost two experienced face-off players in Braeden Carter and David Rizzo. Entering this season, head coach Jason Symmes wasn’t sure who would fill that spot. Quickly that question was answered with Csizmadia.
“It’s been kind of a pleasant surprise. Last year we had Braeden, who was an All-MVC face-off guy and we also had David so we had those two guys who did that for us last year,” said Symmes.
“Desi was on the team as a freshman and he did some face-offs for us, but very rarely. This year we were like, we will be going from an area of strength to an area of weakness, but since the first game he’s just been great.”
A three-sport athlete with cross-country and basketball, Csizmadia has excelled in lacrosse thus far because of his athleticism, speed and endurance.
“He’s a pretty good-sized kid who can run for days. He doesn’t really get overpowered which is pretty good. Our starting defensive mid-fielder has been out, so Desi’s not only doing the face-offs, but he’s been basically our starting defensive midfielder too. He’s been all over the place,” said Symmes.
OTHER SHINING RANGERS
While Methuen is struggling with an 3-6 overall record, the team is still relatively young with a lot of talented underclassmen. Besides Czismadia, junior Joey Casarano, who has already committed to play at Clarkson University, leads the team with 17 goals and 9 assists, while junior goalie AJ Smith has been rock solid. Sophomore Zach Anderson was immense on groundballs in the win over Tewksbury, and then senior long-stick middie Isiah Koziell, who has committed to play at SNHU, has also been very consistent.
LYDON IMPRESSIVE THUS FAR
Central Catholic (4-5) has been able to keep pace with the upper-echelon teams in the MVC and a big part of that is their goalie, junior Jake Lydon.
“He only began playing goalie last season and made the second-team All-MVC,” said head coach Mike Forgione. “He’s a great goalie in his own right, let alone having played the position for only 13 months. We went from a program that had no goalies on the roster at the start of the 2022 season, to having one of the best in the league. As a goalie coach myself, I wish I could take credit for his development, but he managed to build all these skills completely on his own.”
Back on April 19, Lydon also provided some offense as he went coast-to-coast and scored a goal in the team’s win over Essex Tech.
Others playing well for the Raiders include attackman Easton Morse, who will be playing next year at RPI and midfielder/attack Mikey Ryan, who will be playing football next year at Merrimack.
MIAA POWER RANKINGS
On Friday, the MIAA released its power rankings and in Division 1, three local teams are within the top-32, meaning if the season ended today, they would all be in the tournament. North Andover is No. 9 with a 7-2 record, followed by Central Catholic at No. 27 and Methuen at No. 32. Haverhill (3-5) stands in at No. 43.
This Friday night, Central Catholic will host North Andover for a 6:30 pm contest.
Methuen has a busy week with games against Wilmington on Monday, Lowell on Tuesday, Dracut on Friday and then Pinkerton on Saturday morning.
Haverhill will have three games with Medford and Dracut on Monday and Tuesday and then Tewksbury on Friday.
NH TEAMS THRIVING
In NH Division 2, both Timberlane and Windham are off to 6-1 starts. The Owls had a big week with wins over Hollis-Brookline (17-8), Oyster River (11-5) and Souhegan (16-2). They have had the success playing without captain Drew Morin, who has been out with an injury. Despite his absence on the field, he’s been immense in the classroom, part of various projects and organizations, including the ATTACKcancer campaign.
In Division 3, Pelham is off to a 3-1 start. The Pythons will have games against Coe-Brown on Monday and Bow on Friday.
Friday must have been “Dominate the Face-off X Day.”