The last time the Catonsville boys lacrosse team played a meaningful game was in the spring of 2019 when the Comets lost a heartbreaking 4-3 decision to Howard in the regional semifinals.
The Comets had defeated Dulaney, 7-6, in the previous playoff game and coach KR Schultz was extremely optimistic about a 2020 team that would have included his entire defense back on the field and Brian Ruppel back to his natural position of goalie after playing midfield as a freshman.
Ruppel never got a chance to play with the veteran defense but the goalie, who committed to play lacrosse at the University of Maryland in 2023, will return between the pipes this season with several players from that 2019 team along with some newcomers.
Junior James Azbill, who will play at Towson University in 2023, is the veteran of the defense where the long-stick close defender will be joined by fourth-year seniors Jakob Wilkens, Mark Gordon and Jack Krug in defensive roles.
Sophomore Nate Wess will pick up where his brother TJ left off handling faceoffs.
Junior Frank Manalansan was on that 2019 team, but he didn’t get a ton of playing time.
“He worked his tail off in the offseason while no one was watching,” Schultz said.
Byron Newman, a transfer from St. Paul’s and Eric Kaplan, a transfer from Howard, join the offensive mix along with senior Drew Abendschoen.
“We have a lot of bodies on the offensive end and not as many on the defensive end,” said Schulz, whose 7-9 2019 team had some scoring woes. “We are hoping to score more goals then we have in the past.”
The determined attitude of the players who were in the program in 2019 have Schultz excited for the future.
“They are hungry because they had opportunities to play this summer and fall, but it wasn’t with each other, it was with club teams,” Schultz said. “Being together, representing their community, representing Catonsville, being back on the turf field and getting after it is a lot of fun. They are competitive dudes. They are confident guys so we hope we can work hard enough to earn some wins.”
Catonsville opens its season with home games against Perry Hall on May 11 (4 p.m.) and Sparrows Point on May 13 (5:15 p.m.).
They play at Dulaney on May 18 (5:15 p.m.) and at Towson on May 20 (5:15 p.m.) before returning home the following week against Hereford on May 24 (5:15 p.m.) and against Franklin on May 26 (5:15 p.m.).