The Legendary Legacy Guiding Williston Lacrosse


The Wildcats’ Lacrosse Coach, Connor Mooney, brings a long and legendary legacy to his role.

The game of lacrosse was always a huge part of Mooney’s life. His father, Russ Mooney, is a legendary coach that has been around the game for years. He introduced the sport to his son at a young age, and his love for lacrosse has done nothing but bloom since.

“The game of lacrosse has been a part of my life since I can remember,” Mooney said. “My dad was a high school coach and now is a member of the Western Massachusetts Lacrosse Hall of Fame. I have him to thank for my love of the game.”

Coach Russ Mooney was the head coach of Minnechaug Regional High School’s lacrosse program for over 30 years, and has since been coaching with club teams all over Massachusetts. His latest coaching job is at Western New England University.

Growing up in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, Coach Mooney, 29, was recruited to play lacrosse at Avon Old Farms, one of the top lacrosse programs in NEPSAC every year.

At Avon, Mooney was a four year letterman for the Winged Beavers in lacrosse and produced 245 goals and 131 assists during his career. He was ranked the 49th best recruit in the graduating class of 2010, and 15th overall at his position of attack.

He left a serious athletic legacy at Avon, becoming a three-sport varsity captain of the soccer, basketball, and lacrosse teams during his senior year. His academic and athletic achievement had him recruited by many schools, but he eventually decided on staying close to home and attending the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Mooney made an immediate impact at Umass, getting serious minutes and being a main contributor to the team during all of his four years there. He was named to the CAA All-rookie team, NEILA All-New England second and first team, All-CAA second team, listed as a USILA Scholar All American, and won the CAA Academic Achievement Award, just to name a few accomplishments.

After graduating from UMass in 2014 with an undergraduate degree in sports management, Mooney knew he wanted to keep the game of lacrosse in his life in some way, so he decided to get into coaching. He began to study and coach at Western New England University while pursuing his Master’s degree in business administration.

“I knew I wanted to keep the game a part of my life and coaching has been the perfect avenue to do so,” he explained. “It’s great to work with kids who have the same drive and desires that I had as a player; helping them reach their goals is very rewarding.”

His coaching career lead him down the path of club lacrosse, and he got himself involved with one of the top programs in the country. Through that club, Mooney began meeting players that would open his eyes to job opportunities, and he made his move as quick as possible to try to land a head coaching job.

“I used to work full time for a lacrosse company called 3d Lacrosse,” he said. “I helped run a High School Winter Box League with multiple NEPSAC teams where a few Williston players were competing. They let me know that there was a coaching position open and I contacted Mr. Conroy and was fortunate enough to land the job.”

Since landing the job at Williston, Coach Mooney has led the varsity lacrosse team to successful seasons every year, competing with some of the best programs in all of New England, and has sent multiple kids to play at the next level. Recent grads playing college lacrosse include Noah Brooks (Colby), Kevin Talbot (Wesleyan), Blake Leveston (Franklin & Marshall), and Joe Rees (Clarkson).

Coach Andrew Syfu, who started coaching at Williston before Mooney arrived, believes that Coach Mooney has brought a new perspective of how to coach the sport. He likes to teach his players to work on their strengths and figures out new offensive and defensive game plans for each player that he coaches.

“In terms of lacrosse knowledge and experience, he knows the game as well as anyone I’ve worked with in my 16 years,” Syfu said. “He has dozens of offensive strategies in his back pocket, and he builds strategy based on the strengths of his players, rather than forcing players to fit into a rigid system.”

“Practices are about risk taking and creativity, not diagrams or set patterns,” continued Syfu. “It teaches players that there can be several solutions to a problem. This, in my mind, is the ‘new school’ of teaching that he brings, that has been a positive change in how the game is taught.”

Personally, I have been playing under Coach Mooney for over two years now. When he recruited me to Williston, I didn’t know that much about him as a person or a coach, so I didn’t know what to expect. After seeing first-hand his incredible love and knowledge of the game, I can confidently say that Coach Mooney has been one of the most impactful coaches I’ve ever played for.

The confidence that he had in me as a sophomore starting for the varsity team motivated me to want to be my best every single day, and he gave me and the rest of the team ample opportunities to prove ourselves during any practice or game. He was a huge advocate for me in my recruiting journey and ultimately introduced me to the school where I would attend the next four years of my life.