OUR SUPERIOR COACHES
The professional coaching staff at Gorilla Lax is comprised of former professional and current Division 1 and professional players who are placed with age groups where they can have the most positive and mentoring influence on each and every player. In addition to the on-field training, Gorilla Lax also provides academic advising and services to ensure that players succeed on and off the field. We also have introduced specialized recruiting support through legendary coach and mentor Ted Garber for those Gorilla athletes looking to bring their game to the collegiate level.
Here is a look at just some of our coaches and advisors who provide ongoing support to our players throughout the year.
Head Coach; Player Development Director
Regarded as one of the most prolific goal scorers in the history of the game and one of the biggest rising coaching stars in club lacrosse, Jim Connolly has been at the forefront of Gorilla Lax's emergence as an elite club program since the program was launched in 2015.
Named by New England Lacrosse Journal as one of the top 20 players of all time to come out of New England, Jim learned the game from his Hall of Fame father Steve Connolly at North Andover High School. While at North Andover High School, Jim re-wrote the high school lacrosse history books by scoring more goals than anyone to ever play high school lacrosse in the United States. He became the second-ever high school lacrosse player to score more than 500 career points. He was awarded All-American honors during his junior and senior years and was named MVP of the Cape Ann League in both 2004 and 2005. He held the mark as Massachusetts’s all time leader in points with 523 career points (324 goals, 199 assists) until 2010 when it was broken by Billerica High School's Grant Whiteway, a player whom Jim had trained and mentored over the years.
In college, Jim made an immediate impact at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, becoming one of the team’s leading scorers as a freshman, while helping to lead UMass Amherst to the NCAA National Championship game. Jim was named to the All American Team, First Team All-Conference (two times) and was the Conference Player of the year. He finished his college career by becoming the only player in UMass Amherst history to score at least once in every game. His exceptional scoring ability earned him the nickname of “Mr. Clutch” by Inside Lacrosse magazine.
Following his career at UMass Amherst, Jim was drafted 10th overall by the Boston Cannons in the 2010 MLL Draft. He went to the Ohio Machine in 2012 where he enjoyed his best season. He led the team with 27 goals and was second on the team with 32 points. He was named an MLL All-Star and scored two goals in the All-Star Game. Connolly finished in the top five in the league in goals scored in 2012. Over his seven-year MLL career, Connolly played for the Cannons and Machine.
Jim launched Gorilla Lax in 2015 and currently oversees all player and coaching development. Since its inception, Gorilla Lax has grown from three to 16 teams. In 2017, Jim added to his coaching resume when he named head coach of the Wellesley High School boy's lacrosse coach, taking over for Rocky Batty who had been at the helm since 2008. A familiar face in town lacrosse circles on both the North and Metro regions, Jim has coached with several town programs over the years and led the U12 North Andover Select team to a Massachusetts state title in 2015. In 2015, Jim was voted by his coaching peers throughout to coach the Mass Bay Youth Lacrosse Select All-Star team.
Elementary School Director; Head Coach
Nick Pfeifer joined Gorilla Lax in 2019 and oversees all elementary school teams. Nick's work with Gorilla Lax will complement his job as head coach of the Newton North boys lacrosse team, a position he assumed in April of 2019 and one which he took over for legendary mentor Bussy Adam, who stepped down after 31 years at the Newton North helm.
Pfeifer played for Adam and graduated from Newton North in 2005. Prior to his appointment at Newton North, Nick was an assistant at Canton High for four seasons before assisting Adam at Newton North for two years beginning in 2017.
A 2010 graduate of the University of Connecticut where he played on the men's club lacrosse team, Nick is also a special education and history teacher at Newton North High School.
High School Director; Head Coach
Ryan Connolly joined the Gorilla Lax staff in 2017 and currently oversees all of the high school teams. Ryan came to Gorilla Lax after serving for 12 years as head coach of the North Andover High School boys' lacrosse team. During his time as head coach in North Andover, Ryan helped North Andover become one of the top high school lacrosse programs in the state and a perennial state contender.
As a youth player, Ryan played for his father and former UMass Amherst player, Steve Connolly, at North Andover. where he captained the lacrosse team his junior and senior seasons. He led the 2000 team to the D2 EMass championship game and finished with 301 points for his career on 208 goals and 93 assists. He tallied 96 points on 68 goals and 28 assists as a senior captain and was a three-time first team All-League and two-time All Scholastic selection and was named an All American by U.S. Lacrosse in 2001.
Ryan continued his lacrosse playing career at UMass Amherst where he was a member of the NEILA Scholar-Athlete Team earning a GPA over 3.0 or higher his senior year. Ryan finished his career at UMass Amherst with 29 goals and 10 assists participating in over 50 games while becoming a starter his senior season. Ryan went on to become a graduate assistant at Amherst College in 2006 before returning to North Andover High School as a history teacher and assistant lacrosse coach. Ryan spent six season as an assistant coach and offensive coordinator working under his father Steve Connolly,, whom he replaced upon his father's retirement in 2012.
A native of Babylon, New York, Captain Matt Scott came to Gorilla Lax in 2016 following an impressive collegiate career at the Air Force Academy where he was named to the ECAC All-Academic team and received Mountain West Scholar-Athlete honors. Lacrosse runs deep in the Scott family. Matt's father played lacrosse at Roanoke College, while his older brother Michael was part of the Siena men's lacrosse program.
Off the field, Matt served as program manager for Integrated Base Defense Security Systems and most recently as program integrator for the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) where he led a cross functional team in major programs support functions and contractor compliance across multiple programs for the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Missile Defense Agency. Matt is currently pursuing his Master of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and he is a proud member of the Harvard Business School's Class of 2021.
Ted Garber brings a wealth of experience to Gorilla Lax. A current assistant coach for Major League Lacrosse's New York Lizards, Ted has devoted his entire career to lacrosse. Over the years, Ted has coached at UNH and UMass Amherst, and was also head coach of Major League Lacrosse (MLL) squad, the Ohio Machine. He has also been a coach at the prep school level, most recently as head coach at Bridgton Academy.
The Garber Legacy is one that is well known throughout the lacrosse world. Ted's father, Richard F. Garber, coached at UMass for 36 years and was known as the "Father of New England Lacrosse". He led the UMass program from 1954 till 1991 and by the end of his career, was the winningest coach in Division 1 history with 300 wins. To this day, the UMass Amherst lacrosse team is often referenced as the "Gorillas" or "Garber's Gorillas". It was their never give up personality and their attitude on the field which helped proclaim the team as the Gorillas. That name still sticks inside the program which the team takes full pride in.
When Ted took over for for his father at UMass , he kept the tradition and led the program to multiple NCAA tournament appearances. Before UMass, Ted was the head coach at the University of New Hampshire where he led the Division 1 program at the time, to multiple Northeast Championships and an NCAA Tournament appearance.
As a high school coach, Ted helped bring the Avon Old Farms program to win multiple Founders League and Western New England titles in the very competitive New England Prep School Athletic Conference (NEPSAC). Ted's career in professional, collegiate and prep school lacrosse is a study in success. He is the member of two Halls of Fame (UNH and Connecticut Lacrosse), has more than 200 wins as a prep and college coach, owns the highest winning percentage in UMass lacrosse history, and has lead both UNH and UMass lacrosse to the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament.
Ted currently provides recruiting and coaching insight for all high-school aged Gorilla players who have an interest in playing collegiate lacrosse. Ted reguarly meets and consults with players about their college options.
LAUREN FORCUCCI, Ph.D
Lauren Forcucci is Gorilla Lax's dedicated academic advisor, who remains focused on the overall academic success of all players, whether they plan to play college lacrosse or not. Dr. Forcucci is an experienced college educator and advisor. For more than 10 years she has taught and advised in higher education. While working with numerous students during their educational journeys, she has gained an understanding of the many challenges students have in achieving academic success. Dr. Forcucci has been very successful in advising students academically, assisting in building their academic portfolios, academic coaching, and providing early professional training to students.
Dr. Forcucci will be working with Gorilla Lax as our academic advisor to provide guidance in their overall academic achievement. In particular, she will be advising college-bound juniors and seniors to create their academic portfolios and guiding them through the college process.
Head Coach Ameritas
Reconized as one of New England's greatest coaches of all time, Steve Connolly has spent a lifetime helping youth, high school, college and professional players to reach their full potential. A Woburn native who spent much of his coaching career in Billerica and North Andover, Connolly was a 1997 inductee into the New England Lacrosse Hall of Fame. He began his coaching career in 1970 after playing at UMass Amherst. He served as team captain for the Minutemen as a senior and then landed at Michigan State as a grad assistant.
Steve returned home to the Bay State in 1974 and helped to launch a first-ever boys’ lacrosse program at Billerica High School where he remained as head coach for 16 seasons. He also served as a head coach at UMass Lowell and an assistant coach for the Boston Blazers’ pro indoor team. In 1999, Steve arrived at North Andover High School where he started the school's first-ever varsity boys lacrosse team. During his 13 years as head coach in North Andover, Steve led the program to a Division 2 state championship game in 2001 and won five Cape Ann League championships along the way. He officially retired from coaching high school lacrosse in 2012 when he handed over the reigns at North Andover High School to his son Ryan Connolly.
As a result of his decades long contributions and accomplishments, Steve was named three times by the U.S. Lacrosse Association as "Man of the Year" and twice as "Coach of the Year". He continues to provide guidance and support for all Gorilla Lax programming.