NORTH SALEM, N.Y.— After losing only five seniors from last season, North Salem’s boys lacrosse team is ready to roll in 2017.

Despite a 5-12 finish last year, the gritty Tigers scrapped to a one-goal defeat in their Class C outbracket playoff match at Blind Brook.

“This year we want to push and win a playoff game, to actually make North Salem where we feel it should be,” junior defender James Buzzetto said. “We have all been working hard already. As long as we keep working hard we are going to get somewhere far.”

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North Salem is seeing its numbers growing in the program. This season it will suit up 20 players as opposed to 16 the previous campaign.

“We are trying to build the culture of lacrosse around here,” head coach Matt Garrity said. “We want to see this sport grow. I went into the school to all of the athletes who are not playing spring sports and said, ‘Guess what, you’re coming with me.’”

For this season, North Salem will rely on a packed junior class of experienced returners, particularly on the defensive end.

“This year we have a very athletic defense,” Buzzetto said. “We all are willing to learn, which is great. We are all fitting into the package.”

Third-year starting junior defenseman Joey Ely, along with Buzzetto, are back to anchor the stout backfield. Newcomer Ryan Goldstein, also a junior, will assume great responsibility as a defender as well. Sophomore Alex Ely is expected to return at goalie.

“We have a really solid core this year,” Buzzetto said. “Everyone is putting in the work, even outside of practice. Every day we are improving with stick work. These kids work out all the time. For some guys, this is their first year back after missing a couple but it is amazing that we are all coming together and buying into the system.”

On the offensive side, the team’s two lone seniors in attackman Kenny Martin and long-stick midfielder Nick Prisciandaro plan to lead the charge.

“I have played lacrosse since second grade and have been around some great kids who taught me how to lead a team,” Martin said. “It’s going to be really important how well [the younger kids] buy into what the coach and leaders say. It will ultimately lead to our success.”

Junior attackmen Shane Behler and Alex Diamond are ready to rack up the goals along with fellow junior attacker Will O’Leary. Jake Lanyi, another junior, is anticipated to perform well at midfield too.

As a little spice added to this season’s slate, the Tigers are set to visit Westhill High School of Stamford, for a measurable out-of-state matchup in their fourth game on April 4.

“It’s a great opportunity to play another school at our level,” Garrity said. “You are getting a different look at the style of the game and at different talent in the area. These kids need exposure and we are going to have a lot of fun doing it.”

The rejuvenated Tigers travel to Our Lady of Lourdes for their first game on Tuesday, March 28, and will host Hastings in Wednesday’s home opener at 4:30 p.m. on March 29.

“As long as we can go over .500, I am going to be a very happy guy,” Garrity said.