This was supposed to be the Reardons’ year.
Brothers Nick and Mike looked to be the perfect offensive tandem for West Deptford’s boys’ lacrosse team: Nick and his team-record career 108 assists, the ideal setup man, Mike and his freshman-record 34 goals, the hard-charging closer around the net.
But that all changed just before the season, when Nick Reardon, a senior captain on the team, went down with a Type III shoulder separation—an injury that could sideline him the entire spring.
In an instant, West Deptford’s entire offense changed, leaving the coaches to scramble to reassemble the pieces into a new whole, in the hopes of plugging the gap left by the elder Reardon’s absence.
“That was a devastating blow,” coach Mike Yarusso. “These first three games have been about trying to find our identity again.”
That identity may come together around the younger Reardon, who has already proved himself a valuable cog early on—after a four-goal, three-assist game in the season opener, he exploded against Holy Cross Tuesday, racking up seven goals in a 16-2 win against a young Lancer side.
“Michael’s really stepped up as a leader in Nick’s absence,” Yarusso said, praising the sophomore’s ability to adapt to changes in a hurry.
He’s doing what he can to find his niche in the offense, Mike Reardon said, but added it’ll take more than one player to pull the Eagles together.
“With my brother going down, everyone’s going to have to step it up,” Mike Reardon said. “If we work as a team, I’m pretty sure we can do that.”
Getting the younger Reardon into soft spots in the defense is one way to keep up the offensive firepower, according to his coach.
“We figured out how to utilize his strengths,” Yarusso said. “If we can get the ball inside to him, we can usually count on him putting it away.”
But things are in flux right now, as Yarusso and the other coaches try to fit the right offense on to the new-look Eagles.
“We’re still a work in progress," he said. “Hopefully we can build off this and move forward.”
There’s still a small chance Nick Reardon could take the field this season, Yarusso said, which would add a new dimension to the offense. Still, the Eagles were told to expect to be without the elder Reardon for eight weeks, and if rehab goes well—the senior was able to avoid surgery—there’s a window of opportunity in mid-to-late May.
“We’re not going to hang our hats on that,” Yarusso said. “His body’s going to make that decision, not us.”
And as the offense tries to gel, the defense and a new keeper are quietly putting together a solid opening to the season.
Junior Brendan Gill all but denied Holy Cross even a look at the net, allowing just two goals in the game. His play allowed West Deptford to build an insurmountable lead, as the Lancers’ first goal didn’t come until the Eagles had piled up 11 of their own.
“Brendan did a good job making sure that we kept the lead,” Yarusso said. “He kept the door closed.”
Looking toward the rest of the season, Yarusso said Haddonfield still looks like the team to beat, though the coach said the loss of one player shouldn't dent the Eagles' hopes too much.
"If we play our tempo and dictate our game, I think we can play with just about anybody," he said.