Nationally, Foxboro, Mass., is known as the home of the champion New England Patriots. Locally, the town’s high school lacrosse teams are rising in recognition as emerging powerhouse programs.
Brittany Sherry, coach of the girls team at Foxboro High School, was there as a player when that program was founded in 2004. Last spring, she led her team to a 14-6 record, good enough to win the program’s seventh consecutive Hockomock League-Davenport title.
The team’s season ended with an 8-6 loss to Medfield in the second round of the Division 2 state tournament. Regardless, the trajectory of her team appears to continue upward.
“We didn’t get as far as we wanted to,” Sherry said. “The season before, we made it all the way to the sectional finals, but the tournament loss was a reality check that we need to keep working hard and stay focused.”
She added: “We want our players seeing the highest level of competition and seeing if they can raise their game. We played Wellesley last year and almost beat them. We played Norwell and lost to them by one, and then Norwell goes on to win the state championship. To me, that showed our players that we’re there, right on the doorstep.”
Looking ahead, Sherry said she expects a strong season from her squad this spring.
“This group of girls, especially my group of senior girls the upcoming season, is one of the hardest-working group of players I have seen,” she said. “They just love lacrosse. Their lax IQ is higher than mine sometimes. I have some pretty high hopes for them.”
One of the keys to the success of both the boys and girls programs at the high school is the particularly close connection to the town’s youth lacrosse league. Matt Noone, coach of the boys team at the high school, makes sure his system is instituted at the earliest level of play
“In a town like Foxboro, where we only have 850 to 900 kids in the high school, we’ve got to have a system in place where the youth program is connected to the high school,” he said.
Noone has headed up the high school program since its founding in 2003 as a junior varsity team. Last season, his team compiled a record of 15-4. In the state tournament, Foxboro had the misfortune of a first-round matchup against Concord-Carlisle, which they lost, 9-6, to the team that would finish as state runner-up.
Next spring, Noone aspires — as he always does — to keep the program moving forward with his system.
“Our system is installed from U9 on up with the pillars of Foxboro lacrosse, so when they make it up to me at the high school, they know how I need them to play,” Noone said. “They know that we spin it twice before we go to the goal, that righties go here and lefties go there. Like the Patriots down the road, we run a system, and the kids need to know how to perform within it.”
Here, Noone touches upon another key source of support for both programs at the high school: a steady lift from those aforementioned New England Patriots.
“They have been so supportive of our program,” Noone said. “We played a game around 2007 and beat a conference opponent in Gillette. It was such a magical moment for us to be in that setting. I told the boys that day, if we dig up a piece of this turf, it’s Foxboro soil.
“I remember we didn’t have turf for a while and we didn’t have a place to practice and the Patriots would lend us their bubble. The Patriots organization has been great to us all around.”
Sherry echoed that praise.
“The Kraft family has been so great to us,” she said. “They gave us a luxury suite to watch the NCAA women’s lacrosse championship at Gillette Stadium last year, which was incredible for us. It’s been great exposure for the girls to see those games. We play at a pretty high level, but to see these college women playing at an even higher level has been inspirational.
“Some of our players are going on to play in college at Princeton or Richmond or Davidson, so it’s great for them to see college-level play.”
The most famous lacrosse product in town is Duke midfielder Sean Lowrie, who starred up the road at Roxbury Latin. Lowrie enjoyed a breakthrough junior season (nine starts, 19 goals) last spring and helped the Blue Devils reach the national championship game at Gillette, where they fell to Yale.
Noone, a native of Long Island, said he is proud of how far the culture of lacrosse has progressed since he moved to town to become a health and physical education teacher at the middle school.
“To see the growth of lacrosse in Foxboro since 2001,” he said, “it’s just been amazing.”