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Ravens lacrosse team flying high at Portsmouth Abbey

Jimmy Myers
Ravens lacrosse team flying high at Portsmouth Abbey
Midfielder Zach Chatterton watches the play downfield. PHOTO: LOUIS WALKER III

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The Portsmouth Abbey lacrosse team recently completed an outstanding 17-3 season with Zach Chatterton stalking the midfield for the private school in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

Alfred Brown, the long-time lacrosse coach at the Catholic Benedictine day and boarding school, has amassed 500 victories at Portsmouth and speaks highly of his sophomore midfielder.

“He’s pretty darn good right now,” says coach Brown, adding that with better stickhandling, he will become an outstanding player.

Varsity lacrosse coach Alfred Brown gives a pep talk. PHOTO: LOUIS WALKER III

Chatterton said his dad first taught him the game and gravitated towards lacrosse around sixth grade after playing hockey and other sports. “I didn’t make varsity until this year,” he said. “But as I have grown in knowledge of the game. I gave up the goalie and other positions to become a midi. I’m quick and can get back on defense quickly. And once I get my hands better, I think I am going to be pretty solid on offense.”

Lacrosse, invented by Native Americans, was often called “Little Brother of War” and sometimes featured violent clashes of competing tribes long before the arrival of European settlers.

Olympic great Jim Thorpe played at the Carlisle Indian School before going on to global track and field and football glory.

Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown played the game as a high schooler on Long Island and starred on the Syracuse team. “It’s a man’s game that I grew to love,” said the late gridiron back before his death. “While playing at Syracuse University, I gained All-American status in both football and lacrosse,” he said, adding that “as much as I loved football, I also had a special love for lacrosse.”

Defensemen Chris Barnes chases down an opponent. PHOTO: LOUIS WALKER III

At Portsmouth Abbey, Brown hopes to build on that history. With 11 players graduating from this year’s team, the hunt for new talent has Brown on the lookout for good players who can assimilate to life on the Portsmouth Abbey School campus.

“There’s not one formula for recruiting,” said Brown. “It comes in lots of ways. Probably for us the main way we get kids and, especially lacrosse kids to come to Portsmouth Abbey, is word of mouth from either alums or present families. We are always searching for talent.”

The hunt for lacrosse talent extends to programs such as the Harlem and Metro lacrosse program, which seek to diversify the sport. Chatterton and Chris Barnes are the only Black players on the Ravens lacrosse squad.

According to Chatterton, any feelings of isolation ended after his first semester. “I was lonely for a while. But that all changed during the spring semester when students started to come out from winter hibernation and started socializing. Since then, I really started to like this place,” he said.

Barnes, recruited from Virginia, also played goalie on the hockey team and is a standout football player. A senior, Barnes will be headed to Dickinson College in the fall of 2024.

Coach Brown surveys the field from the sidelines. PHOTO: LOUIS WALKER III

Many of the athletes are multi-sport students, which the school promotes, so specialization does not creep into their lives. The lacrosse team boasts a 1,000-point scorer on the basketball team, and another laxman is the starting quarterback on the football team.

Portsmouth Abbey is coming off two stellar seasons with 16-4 and 17-3 back-to-back seasons. They will have to rebuild, but Brown sees a bright future. The Ravens participate in the Naval Foundation and West Point scholarship programs, which bring a few students to the Portsmouth campus.

“Some of them are lacrosse players,” Brown explains.

“That’s a really unique and exciting program for the school. They do a year with us, and then you’re guaranteed a spot in the following year at West Point or the Naval Academy class.” With such a unique program drawing from Metro Lacrosse and the service academies, the Portsmouth Abbey Ravens could be contenders for years to come.

High school lacrosse, lacrosse, Portsmouth Abbey School, Sports