Monday's fatal shooting of Brentwood police officer Stephen Arkell has hit everyone hard, the lacrosse community included.
Arkell volunteered as an assistant coach with the Exeter High girls’ team. His daughters Kim (senior) and Lauren (freshman) play for the Blue Hawks. Arkell had also been active in coaching at the youth lacrosse level.
“We were all together at the vigil Tuesday night. It’s been really emotional for (the team),” Exeter head coach Courtney Preneta said. “Monday night I had to try and call all the parents of the kids and then Tuesday morning we had a program meeting because almost every girl in our program was coached by Mr. Arkell as a youth. They all know him personally.”
The Blue Hawks were in the midst of beating Manchester Memorial 20-4 on Monday afternoon around the time Officer Arkell was responding to the incident in Brentwood.
Preneta, who has not been in contact with Kim or Lauren Arkell, said that Tuesday was tough for the players.
“At first it was a lot of raw, sad emotion and then we tried to talk about all the things we loved about him and how much we’re going to miss him,” Preneta said. “The girls were together all day and made posters and pins for the vigil. We attended the vigil together and it was great to be around the community that knows and loves him.”
The lacrosse community has been quick to add its support to Exeter, expecially on the Seacoast, where many of the high school programs blend together for summer camps and travel teams.
“A lot of our girls, the programs inter-mix in the summer. The community is intermingled,” said Portsmouth High girls’ coach Mary Squire. “It’s awful, shocking news and we’re just trying to do what we can to help them out.”
Exeter was scheduled to play Londonderry Wednesday but the game was postponed with no makeup date announced yet.
The Blue Hawks (8-3) practiced on Wednesday and Preneta said she hoped to play Friday at home against Souhegan of Amherst. “For some kids it will probably be nice having the routine. It’s going to vary by individual,” Preneta said. “In a time of crisis, I think physicial exercise is a good way to work through things. We’re going to try it and see.”
The Exeter girls’ team was hit with another tragedy two years ago when Blue Hawk player Emily Urbanowski lost her father Robert in a car accident during the season. The Portsmouth girls’ lacrosse team will be taking a collection during both the varsity and junior varsity games next Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Portsmouth High.
All donations and concession stand proceeds will be provided to the Arkell family and Squire said she believes Portsmouth won’t be the only program to participate.
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Guertin no longer perfect: It took a strong team from Rhode Island to do it, but the Bishop Guertin boys’ lacrosse team found itself in the loss column for the first time this season.
La Salle Academy out of Providence, R.I., defeated Bishop Guertin 14-13 on Saturday.
Four-time Division I champion BG has opted to play a schedule heavy with out-of-state opponents this season and had knocked off strong teams such as Needham, Mass. and Lincoln, Mass.
The Cardinals have one more non-New Hampshire opponent on the schedule, Duxbury, Mass., next Wednesday. Duxbury is 9-1. Games to watch: In girls’ Division III action, unbeaten Derryfield (10-0) will face 8-1 Laconia next Wednesday in Laconia.
In the Division I boys’ ranks, rivals Pinkerton Academy of Derry (9-3) will host Londonderry (8-4) next Thursday.
Ian Clark covers high school lacrosse for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is email@example.com.