Lafayette Boys Lacrosse Bursts onto the Scene

Club’s first loss was against rival Jamestown


Photo Courtesy of Brad Howe

Lafayette’s new Lacrosse club isn’t a VHSL member, but the players still gave their all against Warhill, shown here.

A chilly battle on a Warhill turf field unfolded in the Eagles’ favor last Wednesday, as Lafayette’s new lacrosse squad fell to Jamestown, 12-8. The now 5-1 Rams, coached by Thomas Rice, Brian Erwin, and Thomas Gillen, had started the season with five straight wins, racking up an 11-1 victory on April 14th against Poquoson in their last game before Jamestown. On Wednesday, Lafayette’s “LAX bros” met their fiercest match in the crosstown rival. This game pitted the best players in Williamsburg against each other, forcing club teammates to compete against their longtime companions.

The game started well for the white-clad Rams, with Tristen Packer winning the game-starting faceoff. Lafayette scored in just a few minutes, but that would be the last good moment against Jamestown for a while. The Eagles, wearing green, scored the next 7 goals coming up to halftime. In this period, Lafayette missed a few opportunities, often blocked by Jamestown’s solid defense. The final goal in the first half was particularly dispiriting, as the ball took an awkward bounce over Lafayette’s defensive line, opening up the one on one with goalie Chris Belden for the Jamestown attack.

Coach Thomas Rice speaks to the new Lafayette Lacrosse team at halftime of the Jamestown match.
Stephen Council
Coach Thomas Rice speaks to the new Lafayette Lacrosse team at halftime of the Jamestown match.

After scoring the first goal of the second half, Lafayette conceded 5 hard-fought goals in a row to the Eagles. In the 3rd and 4th quarter, a back and forth goal-scoring volley ensued, with precise goals by Matt Rice and Jack Erwin for the Rams. Lafayette scored 4 goals to close out the match, but the push was too little too late, with Dexter Klock scoring the 20th and final goal of the game. Jamestown 12, Lafayette 8 was the final score of the contest. This was the Rams’ first loss, which ties them with Jamestown for 2nd place in the league. The game was the pinnacle of the season for many players, most of whom had no idea a team was being formed until this spring.

Matt Rice, a Lafayette forward and the league’s leader in assists and points, was both excited and upset when he heard a LHS Lacrosse team would be formed. It would be an honor to represent Lafayette, as his brother Thomas had done in ’05-‘06, but playing against Williamsburg Warriors teammates would feel wrong. As the season has progressed, however, the Lafayette team has become a tight-knit group. After overcoming the different club team styles, the Rams have clicked, especially on the defensive end.

Both Rices cite Lafayette’s defense as the major strength of the team. Senior Chris Belden, in goal, cements a defensive line that includes sophomores Jack Erwin and Grady Cote, as well as junior Liam Walters. Coach Thomas Rice calls the trio the best defensive group he’s ever coached and says that hard team defense is always part of their game plan. This lockdown mentality was what bolstered confidence before the season as well, because defense is a very important part of a good team. However, defense isn’t the only strength Lafayette lacrosse has.

Matt Rice turns toward goal during Lafayette's win against Warhill
Photo Courtesy of Brad Howe
Matt rice, the league leader in assists and points, turns toward goal during Lafayette’s win against Warhill.


Coach Rice had this to say about the team’s offense, “Matt Rice and Wynn Berry have shown a natural ability to put the ball in the net while also creating opportunities for their teammates.” As the season has gone on, Lafayette’s attack has improved, with the chemistry between forwards growing. Packer, a junior in his first year of lacrosse, has been winning more and more face-offs, which are physical battles for possession after stops in play. In the Jamestown game, Packer won several face-offs against the experienced Jamestown player Zach Pennycuff. After his short skirmishes, he is subbed out by junior Quinn Hyland, whose physicality in the offensive half was helpful to sophomore Rice, senior Berry, junior Dexter Klock, and senior Thomas Gillen Jr. against Jamestown.

Tristen Packer wins a face-off against Warhill in early-season play.
Photo Courtesy of Brad Howe
Tristen Packer wins a face-off against Warhill in early-season play.

This isn’t the first time Lafayette has been associated with lacrosse; there was a joint club team with Jamestown in 2005 and 2006. However, this year’s renewal is bigger than just an independent club, although officially that’s all the team is. Squads are being formed all over the conference, with Lafayette’s schedule including Jamestown, Warhill, and Menchville. The players and coaches would like lacrosse to be recognized as a VHSL sport, and according to Coach Rice, “the success and sustainability of this program is fundamental to that goal.”

Looking ahead, Lafayette is going to face some tough opponents, including Tabb. The Tigers have beat Jamestown already this year, but Thomas Rice is confident Lafayette can continue the good season.

“I’ve seen this group play at their best, and if we can do that for four straight quarters, there isn’t a team that can beat us,” said the coach.

The team has definitely been finding success, which players think should gain interest in the sport and the team. The loss to Jamestown is a setback, but forcing them into defensive mindsets and formations at the end is proof that Lafayette’s new representatives can compete at the higher level.

4/27 Update: Rams are now 5-2, after falling to Tabb 10-8 on 4/26