Cougar of the Week: 04/23

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Will Mandracchia (’18) joined an already strong and crowded Clark Lacrosse attack line, and, as a result, has seen not seen the field every game. However, he has made good use of his opportunities, scoring 14 goals and notching four assists this season. He spent some time with The Scarlet to talk about his first season, the team’s environment, and coming from a lacrosse-obsessed family.

Photo provided by Jonathan Edelman

Photo provided by Jonathan Edelman

Scarlet: So, you’ve been scoring fairly consistently so far, but I noticed that you didn’t play against Babson. What happened there?

Mandracchia: Well, I’ve had some stuff to work on as far as passing and catching, like the basic stuff. But I’ve been hitting the wall, playing wall ball. It’s really just a matter of how you play during the week, and whoever performs the best plays.

Scarlet: Is this a different system than you’re used to, having to earn your spot every week?

Mandracchia: Yeah, definitely, because it went from being the senior at Melrose High, to going right back to the bottom as a freshman, so yeah, it’s definitely different.

Scarlet: How has that transition been overall?

Mandracchia: Honestly the entire game is just completely different. It’s so much faster, it’s more kind of like a chess match, whereas in high school you really could just get the ball and take it to the net.

Scarlet: Yeah, if you’re talented enough, you can kind of dominate that chess match. You’re kind of like a piece that can do anything.

Mandracchia: Exactly.

Scarlet: What aspects have you had to focus on the most in adjusting to the college game?

Mandracchia: Really just consistency. Obviously if you’re not consistent, you won’t find yourself on the field. You gotta continuously play your best.

Scarlet: And what do you work on to get that consistency?

Mandracchia: Really just coming to practice every day with the mindset that this is preparation for the next game, and that every single thing is really important, so you can’t take anything off.

Scarlet: I noticed that you have one of the highest shot percentages on the team, it’s almost at fifty percent. What do you attribute that to?

Mandracchia: That’s really just getting out there, just practicing the same shot over and over again, trying to perfect it, and translating it onto the field with defenders and the rest of your team out there.

Scarlet: Do you have any favorite shots?

Mandracchia: I’d have to say just finding my way to the inside, controlling the goalie, being close to the net.

Scarlet: Any go-to shots?

Mandracchia: I wouldn’t really say go-to ones. It’s really situational, based on how the defense plays.

Scarlet: There’s not a specific shot that you look for in those situations?

Mandracchia: Definitely just trying to get right in front of the net, fake high, and go low. I find those to be really successful against the good goalies.

Scarlet: We know the secrets now. Another factor that must be helpful is the strong attack line that you get to play with. Nick Johnson (’17) is currently leading the NEWMAC in assists with 35. What’s it like to play alongside him?

Mandracchia: It honestly just gives you something to strive for. He sees the field better than anyone I’ve ever played with, and just understands the game, just kind of glides out there. So [I’m] just kind of picking up points from him, and Jack Goracy (’17), Rob Holden (’16), Kyle Elkins (’17), all of them really have their own strong suits, they’re really good at what they do. So it’s increased my competition trying to stay level with them.

Scarlet: Did it surprise you playing alongside guys like that at first? Did you get a pass from one of them where you were just like, “What?”

Mandracchia: Definitely, yeah, just perfect right there. Definitely, they make some unbelievable plays, so being on the other side of them is awesome.

Scarlet: Have you had to increase your anticipation for receiving random passes?

Mandracchia: Oh, definitely. They’ll come just like that, and they’ll get through defenses where you really didn’t think they were going to.

Scarlet: In what other ways has college lacrosse been different from high school lacrosse?

Mandracchia: In high school, it was maybe like football players or hockey players playing lacrosse. It wasn’t people only dedicated to lacrosse. So in college, everyone really cares about being there, which is awesome. Everyone wants to work hard, so everyone’s kind of pushing each other. I love that.

Scarlet: How has the team been in helping you adjust to college lacrosse?

Mandracchia: Honestly, they’ve been great. I love everyone on the team. Our seniors are really into it, really want to push to have the best season possible.

Scarlet: Who is the funniest in the locker room?

Mandracchia: That’s a tough one…I’d have to say probably Ryan Marsh (’15). Ryan Marsh is pretty funny.

Scarlet: What’s his sense of humor like?

Mandracchia: It’s all over the place, not designated to just one thing.

Scarlet: What have you been doing individually to prepare for the games going forward?

Mandracchia: Really just focusing on the simple things, not trying to go overboard, make skip passes that defenders eat up. Just keeping it simple, and concentrating on the basics.

Scarlet: You sound like you have been playing lacrosse for a while.

Mandracchia: Since third grade.

Scarlet: Wow. How’d you get into it so early?

Mandracchia: It was actually my dad. He didn’t play in high school or anything. He played baseball, and then he played baseball at Merrimack, but he loved [lacrosse], wanted us to play so we got into it, and really all my family is just involved in lacrosse.

Scarlet: So you have siblings who play lacrosse?

Mandracchia: Yeah. I have an older brother who went to Salem State, but ended up working, and a younger brother who plays for Melrose High.

Scarlet: Is he getting any attention from colleges?

Mandracchia: Yeah. He’s actually probably better than me, honestly. Unreal shot. Different position, he plays mid, but yeah he’s unbelievable. I’d honestly love for him to come here, so I could play with him.

Scarlet: How much younger is he than you?

Mandracchia: He’s a junior.

Scarlet: So you got to play alongside him. That must have been nice.

Mandracchia: Oh, it was awesome. We definitely had an unspoken chemistry on the field.

Scarlet: Did he assist on a lot of your goals?

Mandracchia: Oh yeah. He was definitely up there.

Scarlet: What made you stick with lacrosse this year?

Mandracchia: Yeah, there’s definitely ups and downs, once you stop getting playing time after you have it, it’s tough. I’d have to say, talking to my dad, he just reminds me of how important it is, how I only have three years of this, and how I should be enjoying myself along the ride instead of nitpicking every single thing.

Scarlet: It seems like overall though, even with spotty playing time, you have been in the game, you’ve gotten opportunities to do what you do, and it seems overall a pretty successful year for you.

Mandracchia: Yeah, I’m definitely happy with it. Obviously there’s some games I wish I had back, games I wish I’d gone in, but coach obviously has a plan, so I trust him.

Scarlet: I know this season is not over yet, but what are you looking forward to for next year?

Mandracchia: Next year, I’m just gonna try and get in really good shape this summer, work out, be the best athlete I can be, and I want to be on that field for every game.

 

 

Thanks for the interview, Will!