After Paying His Dues For Hun Boys’ Lacrosse, Junior Wright Stars As Raiders Edge PDS in Opener
By Bill Alden
Evan Wright has paid his dues in working his way up the ranks for the Hun School boys’ lacrosse team.
“In my freshman year, we had so many D-I commits and had a great team and I didn’t really get on the field,” said junior attackman Wright.
“I learned from the older guys, they were really good leaders. They really taught me what it meant to be on a good varsity team.”
Applying those lessons, Wright worked hard during the pandemic after the 2020 season was canceled.
“We actually bought our own rack and have a home gym in my garage,” said Wright.
“My brother came home from college and got me in the weight room and I put on 20 pounds. I started getting out on the field this winter.”
Last Thursday, Wright and his Hun teammates were thrilled to finally be back in action as they played Princeton Day School on their season opener.
“To get back on the field feels great,” said Wright. “We actually just came off quarantine, we had three or four practices coming into this game.”
Wright ended up making a great impact in his first start, scoring two goals in the second half to help Hun rally from a 3-1 deficit at intermission to pull out an 8-6 victory.
In reflecting on the game, Wright acknowledged that Hun got off to a sluggish start.
“We knew we weren’t playing our game, we had first game jitters, I guess,” said Wright.
“We weren’t catching, we weren’t throwing, we weren’t really running plays. We had to settle down, communicate, and just execute.”
Over the last 24 minutes of the contest, Wright found himself in the right place at the right time, scoring Hun’s third and fifth goals.
“My teammates really opened me up,” said Wright. “We were moving the ball better, I was getting looks. Everybody was getting looks. We were passing and it opened up opportunities for everybody.”
Hun head coach Jim Stagnitta, a longtime college and pro coach who was making his debut guiding a high school program, liked the way his players seized opportunity down the stretch of the contest.
“The guys played with a little more confidence and a little more sense of urgency,” said Stagnitta, who has 32 years of coaching experience, including nine years at the helm of Rutgers, and most recently led the Whipsnakes Lacrosse Club to a second Premier Lacrosse League title.
“I have been doing this a long time. We threw some things in as we went. We started to set the picks up top to get our hands free and we had some success with that. They started to short us down here so we brought that guy up. We wanted to attack a little bit in unsettled. We rode a little bit harder, we pushed up on the ride.”
Stagnitta credited Wright with being a key guy in the rally.
“He is not an attackman and he has to play attack,” said Stagnitta, who got a goal and an assist from Randall Brown in the win with Matthew Dorrian tallying two goals and Andrew Heubeck, Corbin Minard, and Ryan Donahue adding one apiece. “He is getting better and better at it.”
Noting that it was the first varsity action for many of his players with the 2020 season having been canceled, Stagnitta was proud of his squad’s resolve.
“These guys haven’t played varsity before, there were two freshmen out there,” said Stagnitta.
“They didn’t play last year and the year before it was a pretty good team and they never saw the field. I was really impressed with their ability to come back and the resiliency they showed in the second half because that is what you don’t know.”
Going forward, Stagnitta is confident that his players will get more out of their ability as the season unfolds.
“It is a little bit hard for me sometimes because I have coached college and professionally, you can tell them to do something and they will do it,” said Stagnitta, whose squad fell 12-7 to Academy of New Church (Pa.) on Friday and plays at St. Joseph’s (Metuchen) on April 23.
“What I have learned with these guys is that they just need to learn how to do the fundamental things, like move their feet and not throw the ball to someone who is covered. What we have to focus on is just the little things and keep it simple.”
While Hun will keep working on mastering the fundamentals, the big thing about Thursday was simply getting back on the field.
“Any time you win it is good, it beats the alternative; I was just really proud of the way they came back,” said Stagnitta.
“It is just nice for them to be able to play. I am proud of them, they did a nice job. It is not going to be pretty but they are getting better.”
Wright, for his part, believes that Hun will ultimately produce a pretty brand of lacrosse.
“We definitely have to focus on the little things,” said Wright. “It is catching, throwing and just hitting singles.”