Macky Peck, right, is congratulated by CSN teammate Seamus O'Malley after scoring one of his three goals during Tuesday's District 20 semifinal at Community School of Naples. GREGG HARDY/CSI
The Community School of Naples boys lacrosse team has to like its chances at least a little better this time around.
Tonight, the Seahawks will try to do what no other team has been able to since lacrosse became a varsity sport 11 years ago: beat the Barron Collier Cougars for a district championship.
Things didn’t go so well last year when CSN took the field at Barron Collier High School in the District 20 semifinal. A much deeper Cougars squad had its way with the Seahawks in a 14-0 whitewash. (Barron Collier went on to beat Naples for the district crown before Gulf Coast became the first Collier County team to beat the Cougars since that inaugural 2008 season.)
PHOTO GALLERY: View images from CSN’s district semifinal win over Naples
CSN has many of its core players back this season, and … it will also have a not-so-secret weapon on the field tonight. Macky Peck, an attackman who transferred to Community School after a standout freshman season at Naples High, has established himself as one of the area’s top goal-scorers.
Coach Rich Lewton said Peck has brought poise, ball control, energy and overall skill to the Seahawks attack. He also noted Peck’s rapport with fellow Seahawks attackman Chris Kastroll.
Peck said it didn’t take long for him to gel with Kastroll.
“We really have a feel for how we play with each other, and it’s very fun to play with him,” Peck said following his three-goal performance in CSN’s 5-3 semifinal home win over his former Golden Eagles squad.
Said Lewton: “I’m not sure who’s under whose wing, but (Peck) and Chris Kastroll … their chemistry is incredible. Without either one of them, any team would double the other. You want to double Mackie, we’ll go to Chris. You want to double Chris, we’ll go to Mackie. You double them both, we’ll go up top to (midfielder) Mike Binkowski.”
Yes, Binkowski has proven himself to be a consistent source of offense for the Seahawks — he netted two goals Tuesday night — but he’s also been “awesome” on face-offs, according to Lewton.
To beat Barron Collier (9-6), Lewton said the Seahawks (8-4) are going to have to play a controlled game. The maturity of Peck, Kastroll and Binkowski should go a long way toward helping CSN accomplish that objective.
Mix in some key ground ball pickups (like the ones Lewton praised Seamus O’Malley and Cole Mezrah for Tuesday), along with some big-time saves by sophomore goalie Zack Danni, and the Seahawks just might have a chance to end the Cougars’ district dynasty.
“We are not a run-and-gun team,” said Lewton, whose team played the Cougars tough for three quarters before falling 12-5 at Barron Collier on March 27. “I like that style of play, but you’ve got to know what you have, and we don’t have numbers.”
After tormenting his former team with four goals (including the game-winner in overtime) during CSN’s 8-7 victory at Naples on April 3, Peck wasted little time adding to the Golden Eagles’ misery Tuesday. He completed his hat trick less than three minutes into the second quarter.
Peck has maintained a close friendship with his former teammates, particularly Naples’ standout goalie, Zeb Fuller. Having gone up against Fuller during Golden Eagles practices last season, Peck said Tuesday’s matchup was a cat-and-mouse game.
“Knowing his weaknesses and his strengths, it’s a guessing game for both of us,” said Peck, who, following one first-half timeout, shared a conversation with Fuller as they walked back to their spots around the Naples net. “He really improved from last year, and I think I’ve also improved from last year, especially with my shooting ability. It was a hard-fought battle between both of us, and it was just really fun playing against one of my brothers.”
This year, Community School of Naples became the first Collier County school to field a middle school boys lacrosse team. The younger Seahawks finished their inaugural season with a 3-2 record.
How popular is lacrosse becoming at Community School? Lewton said the middle school team had 27 players on its roster (compared to 23 for the varsity squad.) He added that at least four of the eighth-graders on the team could challenge for serious playing time on varsity next season.
“I’ve never had a feeder system before,” said a borderline giddy Lewton, who started CSN’s lacrosse program in 1998 (back when the sport was only given club status). “I used to always get an endless trail of ninth-graders who have never played before.
“I give it two or three years — tops — and we will be the untouchable.”
Follow CSI on Twitter at @239CSI or like CSI on Facebook at facebook.com/CollierSportsInsider. Email Gregg Hardy at firstname.lastname@example.org.