Valley Boys’ Lacrosse Begins a New Era with Hawkins
The Valley Regional boys’ lacrosse team is under new management with first-year Head Coach Colby Hawkins this spring. The Warriors started the year by losing two of their first three games, but have since come back to post a couple of victories, including a win over North Branford last week, to put their record at 3-5 at the midway point of the regular season.
Coach Hawkins is enjoying the early goings as Valley’s head coach. Hawkins said that the Warriors are benefiting from some great veteran leadership and are aiming to have a strong second half to their campaign.
“As the new head coach this season, I’m grateful to be working with such a great group of young men. The Valley boys’ lacrosse team is hard-working, coachable, and a well-led group,” Hawkins said. “Our captains and upperclassmen have done an excellent job of setting an example and teaching our nine freshmen the mechanics of the game, while welcoming them to the team. Currently, we are 3-5 but expect to be in a winning record very soon.”
In last week’s contests, Valley Regional took a close loss to Woodstock Academy, rebounded with a victory versus North Branford, and then took a defeat against Southington. Valley opened the week by dropping a 9-8 decision to non-conference opponent Woodstock Academy in a road game on April 19.
Senior captain midfielder Cooper Strecker scored 4 goals for the Warriors when they faced the Centaurs. Juniors Michael Kollmer, Leif Duval, Jack DeFelice scored 1 goal apiece, as did freshman Drew Delouchry.
“This past week we had a tough out-of-conference loss to Woodstock Academy,” said Coach Hawkins. “We found ourselves down three goals at the end of the fourth quarter. We scored two in a row in the last three minutes of the game and then came up short in our final drive after winning the final faceoff with 23 seconds left.”
Two days later, the Warriors hosted North Branford for a Shoreline Conference matchup and came away with an 11-9 win against the Thunderbirds. Strecker and Kollmer both scored 2 two goals for Valley Regional, while senior Jake Burdick and junior Ben Costanzo also had 2 goals each in the victory. Senior captain Reece Whitney, sophomore Sullivan Rock, and Delouchry added 1 goal apiece for Coach Hawkins’s squad.
“We recovered with a big conference win against North Branford with a score of 11-9. It was a back-and-forth battle all game,” Hawkins said. “We were tied 5-5 at the half and went back and forth on the scoreboard until we held the lead in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. It was a very exciting game with loud, cheering sidelines. I expect the intensity to continue and for these Warriors to make the Shoreline Conference playoffs.”
Valley finished its week by taking a 12-4 home loss to Southington in a non-conference game on April 23. Strecker scored 2 goals for the Warriors. DeFelice and junior Holden Soboleski both had 1 goal in the contest.
“It was a tough game against a non-conference opponent. We will look to bounce back against Old Saybrook in our next game,” said Hawkins. “We have great competition in our conference and play each team twice. Our seniors are very motivated to have a successful season and as we learn from our game errors and continue to improve as a team unit every day.”
This season, the Valley Regional boys’ lacrosse team is being led by senior captains Whitney and Strecker, along with Duval as a junior captain. Whitney and Duval run the defense, and Strecker maintains the midfield for the Warriors. Duval made the All-Shoreline Conference First Team, while Whitney and Duval were All-Shoreline Second Team selections when Valley advanced to the conference final last year.
“Offensively, we have some great talent with guys who are fast to the goal and have powerful shots,” Coach Hawkins said. “Our rotations and ball movement have improved greatly over the past two weeks. They do well under pressure when the game is on the line.”
Along with Whitney and Duval, seniors Ben Safran, Ian Silva, and James Beckman round out Valley’s defensive corps. Coach Hawkins believes that strong defense is going to be his team’s calling card as the Warriors continue through the 2022 season. Hawkins also noted that Valley is getting a strong performance from the sibling tandem of junior Ben Costanzo and freshman Cam Costanzo in the faceoff circle this year. Ben Costanzo was an All-Shoreline Conference First Team honoree in 2021.
“They are hard to dodge by and tough to ride down field once they scoop a ground ball,” said Hawkins of Valley’s defense. “I’m also very impressed with the Costanzo brothers, who both have over an 80 percent win-rate in faceoffs.”
Valley’s junior class also features Mason Soboleski, Dylan Ingram, and Cobe Cokas. The other sophomores on the Warriors’ roster are Noah Santangelo and Deryck Llivichuzhca. Valley’s freshman class also features John Wadle, Jake Merola, Kai Cokas, Matt Cooper, Chris Roscoe, Gavin Ortola, and Baker Katko.
Coach Hawkins is excited about helping the Warriors strive to reach their potential on the lacrosse field. As he opens his tenure as head coach, Hawkins appreciates the support that his program is getting from everyone in the Valley lacrosse family.
“As a lifelong player, I aim to teach, develop, and motivate each player in their skills and passion for the game. These boys have great potential as a team and as individuals,” said Hawkins. “We’re on a wonderful ride together this season and have high hopes for success. We are also well supported by a wonderful booster club and family community. I hope our supportive community continues to grow and to come out to our games.”