WALLINGFORD — After a decade’s fight, varsity lacrosse is finally coming to Wallingford this spring.
Sheehan and Lyman Hall each sport full varsity boys and girls teams who will join SCC play in lacrosse this month.
Sheehan boys lacrosse coach Dan Wostbrock said it’s going to be surreal for him to see the Titans finally play a varsity game.
“This year I want to provide the respect to all of the players and coaches that have played and coached before we became a varsity team,” Wostbrock said. “Before this year, they never got to wear the Sheehan varsity uniform. I want to do them justice. I want to have a season that would do all of their hard work justice.
“It’s been about nine years now. It took a while, but we did what we needed to do. We couldn’t have done this without the help of a lot of people.”
It’s been a long, steady climb. The Wallingford schools first competed as combined teams. Three years ago, a decision was made to split the squads. In 2011, separate boys teams were established at Lyman Hall and Sheehan. The girls followed in 2012.
With the split, interest in the sport grew.
The four teams spent 2013 at the JV level. Now, on Wednesday’s opening day, they embark on the varsity level.
Lyman Hall boys lacrosse coach Steven Anderson has high expectations for his 33-man squad.
“My kids can play,” Anderson said. “We are going to be a program that is not just a first-year varsity program. We are going to be more progressed because we are a six-year program deep.”
Anderson has plenty of experience with up-and-coming teams. He was an assistant at Notre Dame-West Haven.
“We are going to be able to compete with everyone on our schedule,” Anderson said. “We are going to have some tough games, but we can swing the ball. We can move the rock. We are going to possibly be a .500 team.”
The Trojans open up on Wednesday against West Haven under the lights of Ken Strong Stadium at 7 p.m.
“We are going to be fired up,” Anderson said. “This is our first varsity lacrosse game ever and we are going to be rocking and rolling.”
The Sheehan boys open at home against Amistad at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. The Titans have 36 players and Wostbrock expects his team to fit right into the SCC.
“I think the caliber of some of the teams is going to be different,” Wostbrock said. “Last year, we scheduled as many as SCC teams as possible because we knew we were going to face them this year. I think we are prepared to be competitive with all of the teams on our schedule.”
Wostbrock said the town youth league has prepared incoming lacrosse players for the high school program.
“The freshman class in general has a lot of talent,” Wostbrock said. “We haven’t had to teach the basics. They are running the offense right away.”
Sheehan girls coach Charissa Zbikowski has seen plenty in her time in the Titans program leading up to this year. She’s been involved since the early days.
“Seven years ago, when the boys were starting a club team, they wanted a girls side too,” Zbikowski said. “In 2006, I ran a summer lacrosse clinic in Wallingford. I coached the club team through the park and rec up until last year, until we were finally recognized by the Wallingford Board of Education.”
Zbikowski said the Wallingford lacrosse community deserves varsity status at the high school level.
“It’s been a long time coming,” she said.
“When I played in high school at Cheshire, we started my junior year as a club team and I got to play varsity lacrosse in my senior (in 1997). “I’m glad to see this come to fruition in Wallingford as well.
The Lady Titans have a roster of 34, including 13 freshmen. They open Thursday at West Haven.
“I think they are looking forward to it,” Zbikowski said. “We tried to prepare them for a varsity season last year. We tried to bring them up to that level last year. We had one loss and we lost that game by one goal in overtime.”
The Lyman Hall girls open up at home against Branford on Wednesday at 3:45 p.m. Trojans coach Adam Rosati expects his girls to be competitive.
“We have 33 players and more than half of them have more than two years of experience,” Rosati said. “These girls take great pride in being the first varsity team. We are putting in a lot of hours and everyone here is devoted to the team’s success.”
Rosati had a previous head coaching gig at Lauralton Hall in Milford. He played the sport at Guilford High School and later at Division III Castleton State College in Vermont.
The Lyman Hall and Sheehan squads will have to wait until May until they go head to head for the first time. The Wallingford rivals will play doubleheaders at Lyman Hall on May 2 and at Sheehan on May 22.