The effects will be felt for some time. While Cathedral High School boys lacrosse Andy Gruber said all around the program know there are more important issues, the reality remains:
Losing the 2020 season was disappointing.
And it will take time to recover.
“It would have been a phenomenal team,” Gruber said. “We’ll regroup and figure it out for next year.”
Irish lacrosse, like all Indiana high school spring sports, had its 2020 season canceled by regulations addressing Covid-19. Gruber said the Irish had started practicing in January, and were moving workouts outside when sporting events around the nation began being postponed in mid-March.
All high school Indiana spring sports were canceled in early April.
“It’s emotional, but they’ve kept it in perspective,” Gruber said. “No one has said, ‘Woe is me.’ We were clear from the beginning that wasn’t how it was going to go. It stinks, but losing your senior season – as hard as it us within the construct of Cathedral sports – there’s a lot more going on than that. The bigger picture is we have a wider crisis on our hands, and our guys understand that.
“None of the players or the coaching staff have sat around and suggested that this was the worst thing that has happened over the last six weeks. That’s been very clear in how we approached it.
“It is what it is, as they say. This, too, will fade.”
Irish boys lacrosse is a perennial state power, and Gruber said the program was poised for another strong season – led by a strong, 14-member senior class:
*Chris White, midfielder: “He has been on the varsity team for four years and really came into his own last year as a top-line guy. He’s a big, tall, strong player and was really looking forward to having a breakout season.”
*John Petruzzi, attack. “Probably one of the best players we have on the offensive side of the field. A tough player, incredibly smart, sees the field really well.”
*Mark Saba, attack. “One of our backup midfielders. He was really looking to find his way on the field a lot more this year. He had a strong season last year until he got injured and we had a lot of expectation for him to do some great stuff.”
*Nico Lopresti, attack. “One of our co-captains. A great player. I think he was really set to have another great year. Great kid, great leader.”
*Jack Neidlinger, attack. “Probably one of the best attackmen we’ve had in a while. Transferred from Carmel last year and immediately fit in. He was going to be very strong for us.”
*Joey Mattei, attack. “He was looking to get some time at defensive midfield and was really starting to step up and be able to fill that hole.”
*Gideon Sullivan, long stick middle. “A new player for us, came to Indianapolis from Buffalo to play hockey and was coming into his own and fitting into the program. He could have had a really interesting year for us.”
*Bryce Johnson, long stick middle. “He sat back, watched and was waiting for an opportunity to play. He would have had opportunities this year, and he had really started to come around.”
*Matt Dennen, co-captain and four-year starter and attack/midfielder. “Switched to defensive midfield after playing attack and midfield the last two years. He was playing great defense in the preseason and was set to have another great year. One of the best players we’ve had. So versatile.”
*Sam Bedich, midfield. “All-American last year and a captain. He was set to be Player of the Year in the state. He was going to have an expanded role as well. Great kid. Great player. Walks away from high school with four state championships [in lacrosse/hockey] in three and a half years. That’s pretty good.”
*Will A’hearn, defensive midfield. “Had a great year last year. A captain. Great kid. Set to have another very strong year for us. One of the workhorses. We’re really going to miss Will.”
*Colin Bilbrey. Long stick midfielder. “He had an injury last year and didn’t get a lot of time. He was really starting to play well and was trying to lock that position down. Tough for him not to have that breakout opportunity.”
*Liam McClure. “Started as a freshman and didn’t get a lot of time as a junior. He was coming in this year as one of the top guys defensively. Would have been great to see that senior year.”
*Ryan Berutich, goal. “He was a great leader and a big piece of the program.”
“We had a lot of major players returning from last year’s championship team,” Gruber said. “It was all designed to be a phenomenal team again. We have very talented younger players, but missing this season is going to be really hard. Assuming we get to play in 2021, we’re going to be behind significantly.”
Irish lacrosse typically starts many seniors, meaning many players spend multiple years as backups or playing on the junior varsity before getting an opportunity as seniors to play varsity. Gruber said it’s difficult to know members of the ’20 class will miss that chance.
“As a coach, you spend a season not just playing with top talent, but developing people in positions and letting them learn so they’ll be able to step in the following year,” he said. “We’ll miss that entire year. It’s gone. We’ll start over from Square One, but we’ll be rolling out guys who won’t have experienced that level. It’s hard from a developmental level.
“We’re excited about 2021 – and we were really excited at the beginning of this year, but it’s going to be a tough year. In 2022, we’ll still be behind a year with all of those guys. You just can’t take year of development away and expect everything to be status quo. It just doesn’t work that way.
“It’s going to be an interesting thing.”