Mulvaney’s Approach Big Plus for Holliston’s Boys’ Lacrosse Team

John Mulvaney’s perspective and pro-active style is bound to produce positive results for many years for Holliston’s lacrosse program.
Issue Date: 
June, 2018
Article Body: 

John Mulvaney took the coaching reins of the Holliston High boys’ lacrosse team this spring and, although the Panthers are still battling for a tourney berth, his approach should generate success in the years ahead.
The Panthers, who last qualified for tourney play in 2014, were 8-7 at Local Town Pages deadline and needed only one victory to secure a playoff date. After Mulvaney was hired, he took steps to get some very capable people to share their knowledge of lacrosse with his players, who’ve demonstrated a desire to elevate the program.
“We brought in several Major League Lacrosse players to speak with and instruct players,’’ said Mulvaney, who coached the sport in Holliston’s youth league for 10 years. “Our players learned a lot and gave the pros their full attention. I also have three assistant coaches who played college lacrosse. We know that the youth program is our farm system, so we’re helping with clinics at that level and we’re connecting with all the coaches.’’
The MLL players who helped out were Connor Murphy, a goalie who played at Colgate; Tim Fallon, who played at the University of Hartford and competed for the Long Island Lizards; and Malcolm Chase, a MLL defensive specialist.
Mulvaney’s assistants include Mark LaPierre (jayvee coach) who played lacrosse at St. Joseph’s of Maine; and Ryan Mulvaney (his son) and Matt Clancy, who both played club lacrosse at UMass-Amherst. “My assistants have been awesome,’’ Mulvaney said. “They run the practices and the drills. I set up the plan, and they execute it. They’ve got so much knowledge, and they relate well with the players.’’
Mulvaney’s style on defense is to pressure an opposing offense into mistakes and capitalize. On offense, he prefers patience. “If the ball stays in our possession, then the defense gets needed rest,’’ he said. “In practice, I want a sense of urgency to prevail. How you practice is how you play.’’
The 57-year-old Mulvaney is hoping to clinch a tourney berth in his first year. And, although this year’s team has underclassmen at a variety of positions, the Panthers have assets and strengths.
“Our players are passionate about the sport, they’re mentally tough, skilled and coachable,’’ Mulvaney noted. “They’re also physical, and they hustle. To improve, they need to work on several components that lead to a good lacrosse IQ. Things like clearing, defending in transition, sliding, setting up on offense, cutting to the net and communicating when a teammate gets beat.’’
Three underclassmen provide solid effort at attack and they include junior Dan Gonsalves, sophomore Seth Bello and freshman Brian Gonsalves. “Dan is a prolific scorer, getting 36 goals last year,’’ Mulvaney said. Seth is a sharp passer, our best assist guy, and Brian is a natural athlete who’s got a high lacrosse IQ.’’
The midfielders are a blend of youth and veterans. Jake Kober and Ben Wolfe are seniors; Jackson Goughan, Connor Mulvaney (coach’s son) and Ian Haywood are sophs: and Kevin Lyons is a freshman. “Jake is a scrapper and a leader,’’ Mulvaney said. “Ben is solid and experienced. Jackson is our long-stick midfielder. He’s very intelligent and runs the field well. Connor has a solid lacrosse IQ and is capable of directing the offense while Ian has the fastest shot on the team. Kevin gives 100 percent and is invested in the program.’’
Holliston’s defenders include seniors Scott Elliott and Matt O’Connell, junior Shane Lunny and freshman Jack Elliott. “Scott is tough, quick and has great footwork,’’ Mulvaney said. “Matt is an inspiring leader. Shane is fundamentally sound, quick and athletic while Jack is aggressive and mature and his footwork is good.’’
Senior Will Celorier and sophomore Tommy Labb are the Panthers’ goalies. “Will is fearless, instinctive and tenacious,’’ Mulvaney said. “Tommy is technically sound.’’
Mulvaney, who was an all-star swimmer at Newton North and UMass-Amherst, was hired last October and quickly took steps to increase participation. Forty-two boys make up the varsity and jayvee teams this season, an increase of 10 players. “We promoted our workouts, spent time at the youth level and started an on-line store where t-shirts can be purchased along with other items that say Holliston lacrosse,’’ Mulvaney said. “We want to create excitement about the program.’’
Mulvaney says the sport got his attention because “it’s fast, action-packed and everyone’s involved.’’ It also can teach life lessons. “Kids learn to be good teammates,’’ he said. “They learn good work habits, and they build relationships. Communication also is learned along with accountability.’’
Mulvaney, who’s married and has three sons and a daughter, has a superb philosophy of coaching. “You have to develop a person as well as a player,’’ he emphasized. “Winning is important but we want to develop good people, too.’’