By Nicholas Leo
Juniors Garret McNulty and Blake Gonzalez grew up just 100 feet away from each other in Bel Air, MD, but had never gone to the same school until now.
From kindergarten to sophomore year of college, they’d been good friends and trained together, but getting on the field together had always been difficult. They had played together on a club lacrosse team until 6th grade but never at the same school, and the closest they’d get until now would be in the same conference (The MIAA) as high schoolers.
However, during those years when McNulty was at The John Carroll School, his team was in the B conference as a freshman and he didn’t start as a sophomore. Meanwhile, Gonzales at Boys’ Latin School of Maryland was hurt as a junior. As seniors, both teams were very deep and it was too big of a picture to focus on during the game.
“There was definitely a little extra motivation going against him, like to make a play on him,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez, a defenseman, would be set to see much of McNulty, an attackman, during play but they were too dialed in on the game to ever really pay attention to that.
“We definitely got a nice picture after,” McNulty added.
McNulty would go on to play Division 3 at Lynchburg University in Virginia and Gonzalez would play Division 1 at St. Joe University in Philadelphia, PA.
McNulty didn’t play much last year but wanted to leave Lynchburg regardless. He’d emailed a few schools and Head Coach Brian Duncan showed the most interest.
Flagler Lacrosse’s Matt Mitrega, McNulty’s friend and former high school teammate, would show him around when he came to visit and introduced McNulty to his future teammates.
“I just kind of fell in love with the place right away,” McNulty said.
Gonzalez didn’t like Philadelphia and he tore his hamstring while conditioning in the fall season last year; he was sprinting and while slowing back down on his come-up, it tore.
“After the injury I decided I wanted a change of pace in my college career, I thought I was going to go to Clemson,” Gonzalez said.
He was set on Clemson until McNulty brought new information to light. Both McNulty’s and Gonzalez’s fathers had grown up with Coach Duncan. Duncan had played with McNulty’s father when they were very young, and with Gonzalez’s father in high school.
“He just came to me, said he looked at Flagler and Coach Duncan grew up with our dads, and I didn’t even know that,” said Gonzalez. “I looked up St. Augustine, saw the cool ass pictures and everything, came down, and had a good visit.”
Duncan was adamant about the pickup of both recruits, noting that Gonzalez was on a top MIAA conference team at Boys Latin as a starting defenseman before being recruited to St. Joes.
“We locked up some top guys… the defenseman from St. Joe who made the NCAA D1 playoffs last year. Garret McNulty from Lynchberg is a major pickup for us, he’s an inside goal scorer,” Duncan said.
McNulty had a hat trick in his first collegiate appearance and scored twice in another victory as a freshman at Lynchburg.
McNulty and Gonzalez believe Flagler’s team is leaps and bounds ahead of last year and will continue to get better as every practice comes and goes and the intensity level is raised, ramping it up to be the best they can be.
“As far as my perspective, I’ve never been more excited for a team,” McNulty said.