By Adam Nazzaro
Metrowest Daily News
Like father, like son. Both on and off the lacrosse field.
Like most kids growing up, Will Moriarty (Ashland, Mass./Catholic Memorial) played baseball.
But it was his father, James, who got the Ashland native to play something else in the spring and summer: Lacrosse.
During the fall of Moriarty's freshman year at Catholic Memorial, he received some bad news.
In November of 2012, his father's battle with Leukemia ended. James Moriarty died at 46 years old.
"It was part of my life and part of my struggle," Moriarty said of his father's death.
And unfortunately for Moriarty, that wasn't the only struggled that's plagued him over the past seven years.
Switching it up
Growing up in the town of Ashland, Moriarty found his way to the baseball fields every spring until the end of the summer.
His father, who grew up in Maryland and played lacrosse, eventually introduced Will to the game.
So Will exchanged his baseball glove for a lacrosse stick and joined the Ashland Youth Lacrosse League at the age of 12.
That's when, playing with his friends on a daily routine, Moriarty found an influential coach named John O'Donnell.
"I still call John 'Coach' to this day. He's been the biggest influence in my lacrosse career," Moriarty said. "We had so much fun back then. I miss playing town lacrosse."
As Moriarty elevated his game to another level, he enrolled at Catholic Memorial in middle school, while still playing Ashland Youth Lacrosse at the time.
"Will is a great kid, the type of player first at practice and the last to leave," O'Donnell said. "His joy of the game inspires the rest of the players on the field, always trying to get better whenever he's on the field."
When the time approached to enter the high school level, Moriarty was ready for the opportunity.
Unfortunately, things took a turn in the beginning of Moriarty's freshman year.
"My mom has been a big help for us," Moriarty said on dealing with his father death.
Along with his mother, Monica, Will had to be strong for his younger sister, Meghan, and younger brother, Chris.
"My mom has been so supportive for us in everything we've done," Moriarty said. "As a single mother with three kids, she's been a super hero and the biggest role model in my life without question."
Will led Catholic Memorial to deep runs in the Division 1 South sectional tournament during his sophomore, junior and senior seasons.
"Playing at CM, every game was a dog fight," he said. "College lacrosse is so competitive and it's even more ramped up. You sink into the competition and always have to be up for the challenge. Playing in the Catholic Conference in high school prepared me for what it takes to play college lacrosse."
In the offseason, Moriarty played club lacrosse for the Fighting Clams program, coached by Justin Walker and Ronnie Westgate.
"I thought when he was young he was motivated, very polite and well liked," Walker said. "Because of the passing of his father, he seemed to be mature far beyond his years when it came to leadership and a teammate. It was really special."
When it came to the recruiting process of where Moriarty would like to continue his lacrosse career after high school, the coaching staff of the Clams helped.
"What it came down to was when Ronnie (Westgate) asked me 'If you got injured will you love the school for the school not for just lacrosse.' And I just ran with it," Moriarty said.
Finding the right fit
After visiting Division II and III collegiate programs throughout his senior year of high school, one school really stood out.
That was Saint Michael's College in Colchester, Vermont.
When Moriarty first stepped foot on the Saint Michael's campus for a tour, former men's lacrosse captain Colin Cronin was there.
"Colin barely knew who I was and still had the decency to walk my mom and I to the coaches office and show us where everything was around campus," Moriarty said. "He was such a big help. I aspire to be a leader like him every day."
For many reasons, including his mother and father being alum of the school, Moriarty chose Saint Michael's.
As he stepped on campus as a true freshman in the fall of 2016, Moriarty had a chip on his shoulder.
Throughout his first two seasons with the program, Moriarty was one of the top defensemen for the Purple Knights.
Cronin, who was the team captain for Moriarty's freshman and sophomore seasons, was a "real influence" for Moriarty as he pushed his game to new heights.
But last fall, Cronin unexpectedly died at the age of 23.
"Colin Cronin had such a big influence on the St. Michael's community," Moriarty said. "He had an impact on me personally. He took the time to talk to me and see who I was and really helped me out down the line."
With big shoes to fill, Moriarty took the role of team captain in 2019.
Moriarty and the rest of the Purple Knights played in memory of Cronin.
"I think Will took it as his own to step up with the captain role and really took everything that Colin taught him," Saint Michael's lacrosse coach Alex Smith said. "When your peers elect you as a captain as a junior, it truly speaks to the type of person Will is never mind a lacrosse player."
And Moriarty had a career season.
On May 14, he was named a New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (NEILA) All-New England player.
"To be honest it's surreal. I didn't really think I'd get recognition or any type of awards like this," Moriarty said. "This is what I've been working for, for a long time. To be recognized, it's a dream come true."
Along with many other awards, Moriarty broke a seven-year-old program record for caused turnovers, totaling 45 to go along with 39 ground balls. The captain led Division II in total caused turnovers and caused turnovers per game (3.0) and helped the Purple Knights average 11.4 caused turnovers, which sits fifth in the nation.
"I've played with one of the best defensive units with Brendan Morris and Pat Murphy. We played off each other, we worked really well together," Moriarty said. "We all had our own strengths. I can't take all the credit, because my teammates always had my back."
Moriarty, who is majoring in accounting and business with a minor in economics, will take his Dean's List talents to RSM, an accounting firm in Boston as an intern this summer.
Before his father died, James was an employee at RSM.
Like father, like son. Both on and off the lacrosse field.