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Franklin - Local Town Pages

Alexander a Key Component for FHS Lacrosse Team

A Hockomock League all-star last year, Justin Alexander completed his junior season by earning a scholarship to play at UMass Lowell, a Division 1 school.

Staff Sports Writer
A faceoff specialist in lacrosse so often plays a major role in a team’s success.
A capable player at that position is similar to having a great rebounder in basketball, because an effective faceoff specialist gets possessions, much like the rebounder. 
The late Red Auerbach of the Celtics, the greatest coach in pro basketball, once said he’d prefer a great rebounder over a great scorer, because “you can’t score without the ball.’’
Lou Verrochi, Franklin’s boys’ lacrosse coach, is on the same page with Auerbach, and that’s why his faceoff specialist for the last four years has been Justin Alexander.
“Next to the goalie, the faceoff specialist is the most important player on the field,’’ Verrochi said. “When we’re winning possessions, we get more opportunities to score.’’
Verrochi, whose squad will be a high seed when the state tourney gets underway, believes his Panthers can contend for a state crown. “We can go deep, and Justin will play a crucial role in that effort.’’ 
“Hearing my coach say that gives my confidence a boost, and it’s cool that he has that kind of trust in me,’’ said Alexander. “It creates some pressure but that motivates me.’’
A senior, Alexander has all the attributes that make a faceoff specialist outstanding.
“Justin has what we call ‘fast twitch muscles’ in his hands, arms and legs,’’ Verrochi noted. “That’s what enables him to react fast and win a majority of our faceoffs … He’s also got great instincts, good field vision, and mental toughness. He wins ground balls, he’s elusive and he dodges effectively.’’
The 5-foot-7, 165-pound Alexander had a faceoff percentage last year of 71, winning 331 faceoffs in 463 attempts. He also has managed to average 8 goals and 7 assists in a three-year career, scoring and assisting by controlling the faceoff and either beating the goalie or passing to a teammate. His faceoff percentage so far this season is 77 (189 faceoffs won in 245 attempts) and he’s got one goal and five assists.
“I like the role because there’s different ways to win a faceoff,’’ he said. “I can clamp the ball or swipe it (driving the ball under an opponent’s stick) and if I lose a clamp, I can counter the opponent by hitting his stick. The key to success is having speed and strength, staying calm, reacting quickly at the whistle and being mentally tough.’’

The 18-year-old Alexander has proved his value on two fronts. He was selected as a Hockomock League all-star last year, and when his junior year was completed, he earned a scholarship (athletic and academic) to UMass Lowell, a Division 1 school.
Alexander, who missed his freshman season because COVID-19 forced the cancellation of all spring sports in 2020, awaits his final chance to help Franklin win a state title, his eyes are on the big prize, which eluded the Panthers in his two previous seasons. 
“My team goals are to win the Kelley-Rex Division title, then go deep in the tourney and win a state championship,’’ Alexander said. “The key is taking one game at a time. My personal goals are to keep improving my faceoff percentage, contribute by scoring and assisting, and to repeat as a Hockomock all-star.’’
At Local Town Pages deadline, Franklin had a 13-1 record.
Alexander believes these goals are attainable, “because our team has veteran experience, it’s talented, has a strong work ethic and relies on strong technique and good coaching,’’ he emphasized. “We also have playoff experience.’’
A native of Franklin, Alexander says his best game came against Lincoln-Sudbury last year in the tourney. “We lost, 13-10, but I played my heart out,’’ he offered. “I scored a goal and my faceoff percentage was 62 (16 for 26). My top thrill was selection to the league all-star team.’’
Alexander has high praise for his coach and admires the Panthers’ four senior captains who’ve been prime contributors to the program’s success. The captains are Jayden Consigli (attack), Luke Davis (attack), Robin Chaudhury (midfielder) and Ben Harvey (defender)

An honor-roll student, Alexander says he might major in business (marketing). He’s eager and excited to be competing for a Division 1 university. “Coach (Drew) Kelleher will be in his second year when I’m a freshman,’’ Alexander said. “He’s a demanding coach who believes in a strong work ethic. He said he was pleased I chose UMass-Lowell.’’
Alexander ‘s role model is his brother Jacob, who played as a faceoff specialist at Franklin and now is competing at Bryant University. 
Alexander, who started playing lacrosse at six and spent eight years competing at the club level  says sports has taught him about overcoming adversity, how to be a good teammate, how to be mentally tough and how to lead.
Calling the late Kobe Bryant his favorite pro athlete because of his work ethic and his mental toughness, Alexander received a tremendous endorsement during the preseason when Franklin scrimmaged Acton-Boxboro. After the match, Verrochi was talking with the Colonials’ coach, Pat Ammendolia, who said “your faceoff kid destroyed us.’’
It’s obvious that winning faceoffs helps to start rallies, build momentum and lead to triumphs. And, that’s what Justin Alexander’s role will involve in the playoffs.