EPHS boys' lacrosse club pleasantly surprises early

Townies have already surpassed win total of previous seasons

By Mike Rego
Posted 4/16/24

The early surprise amongst the respective East Providence High School sports squads so far in the spring of 2024 is the marked improvement shown by the boys' lacrosse team, which has already …

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EPHS boys' lacrosse club pleasantly surprises early

Townies have already surpassed win total of previous seasons


The early surprise amongst the respective East Providence High School sports squads so far in the spring of 2024 is the marked improvement shown by the boys' lacrosse team, which has already surpassed its win total of last year and the several seasons prior.

The Townies fell to then-undefeated Lincoln High 11-3 late last week in a Division IV contest. Goalie Jacob Leite made 19 saves on 30 shots on net. Ryan Travassos (unassisted), Keigan Grant from Nathan Capelo and Simon Palumbo from Mathew Marlow accounted for the three Townie tallies. The Lions, runners-up a year ago to Rogers in both the regular season and playoffs, began the new week with a 3-0 record.

"Lincoln is always a tough team, they are well coached athletic players. We had a slow start and unfortunately fell into a quick deficit. But our guys kept their head up and their nose down to try and get back into the game," said first-year EPHS head coach Zach Pangborn. "We're trying to get one percent better every day and I think we accomplished that. If we continue to build on this and play with the same heart and grit that I know we're capable of, we are going to make some waves this season."

The Townies followed up with what Pangborn called "our best game so far this year" to earn their second win of the season, a 7-2 victory on the road over North Providence to close last week. Zach Kollett had four goals and an assist to pace East Providence, which already has two victories in a season for the first time in five years since the Townies went 3-11 in 2019. Last spring EPHS went just 1-13.

Capelo added a goal and a helper while Sam Jackson and Marlow accounted for the other two East Providence goals. Palumbo had two assists and Grant one. Leite was credited with11 saves on 13 shots by the Cougars.

As for the reasons why the Townies are off to such solid start, Leite gave kudos to his coach, whom he said "gets the best out of us." The senior keeper and second-year starter continued, "I would say that coach just pushes us harder. He pushes us to really play at our best and we go out and perform for him. "he whole fundamental style of practice just changed. We worked on everything we need. We just drilled it home and now we're succeeding and we're coming through."

Next up, the locals lost a rather close contest to the division's pace-setters at the start of this week, falling to visiting North Smithfield by a 6-3 count.

The unbeaten Northmen never trailed en route to their fourth win of the spring, but the Townies certainly presented a challenge to the league leaders. The score remained within a goal through the opening 24 minutes and well into the second half before North Smithfield edged ahead late as the locals made a couple of mental and physical errors, which allowed their guests to take control of the contest.

Kollett netted all of the EP tallies for a hat-trick. Palumbo had two more assists and Brandon Bothelo one. Liete made 14 saves.

"Tough game overall," said Pangborn. "We had a few unforced turnovers in some pivotal moments. Unfortunately sometimes they bounce your way and other times they don't. We're looking to control the controllables, such as our clears, passing and catching, and decision making. Improvements in those categories should set us up for success the next time we face off."

The Townies entered mid-week with a 2-4 record, after hosting Tiverton Tuesday, April 16, in a make-up game of a contest postponed due to weather to begin the season. The visiting Tigers edged ahead of the locals early and eventually earned an 11-8 win.

Despite the recent setbacks, EP remains on a path towards respectability and, more important, competitiveness with its D-IV brethren.

Of his side's early prosperity, Pangborn credited both his players and his new aide, Zach Hope, a Maryland native and former college player at Division III Virginia Wesleyan University.

"It's been a while," Pangborn said of the Townies' success. "I think instilling the same culture when I was playing is a big part of it and I have an amazing assistant in Zach Hope. He takes charge of the offense and I take charge of the defense, so, yeah, it's been great."

Pangborn, who takes his cues from his former coach at EPHS Angelo Pizzi and his predecessor Jon Monast for whom his as an assistant, said he determined his squad would be better than the last couple almost immediately upon their initial gathering at the beginning of the spring.

"When we first got together, the first practice, I thought we could do something this year. We have a lot of returning seniors, a lot of experience, so I was really hoping that translated into some wins," Pangborn said.

A few more and, believe it or not, the Townies would put themselves in a position to make the playoffs, something that's only happened once in the 17-year history of the program.

East Providence's best season to date occurred in 2009 in just the second spring the school sanctioned the sport when the locals finished with an 8-5 record and qualified for the Division II postseason as the fifth seed. The Townies fell to fourth-seeded South Kingstown in their one and still only playoff appearance.

The sport now a bit bigger than at that time, the top four teams in D-IV at the end of the regular season are assured of a playoff bid. Any other side that wins 40 percent of its games also earns a postseason berth, which means the Townies have to win at least six games total or four more of their remaining eight outings.

Pangborn was asked if that's doable? To which, he responded, "I hope so. I mean, the goal is a state title, but realistically, yeah, the goal is the playoffs. And once we get there, anything can happen."

2024 by East Bay Media Group

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.