Mater Dei lacrosse teams see early results in 1st season

By Matthew Rocco

Mater Dei Prep’s boys’ lacrosse program registered its first win last week, as the Seraphs move forward in their inaugural season.

In January, Mater Dei announced plans to play lacrosse for the first time in school history, launching boys’ and girls’ junior varsity lacrosse teams for the 2017 season. Just a few games into the spring, the Middletown school is already ahead of schedule.

The boys’ team will expand to the varsity level next year, and the girls’ team may follow suit, according to director of lacrosse operations Andy Eastwood. Mater Dei initially expected to field a boys’ varsity team within three years and a girls’ varsity team in two years.

The boys’ squad — playing its third game of the season — continued to display strong defensive skills in a 5-2 win over Red Bank Regional High School. The Seraphs played well in their first two games as well, said Eastwood, who is head coach of the boys’ team.

“Their skill sets have been developing, and they are having a great time playing. It’s been a great, positive experience for the players and the coaching staff,” Eastwood said.

The lacrosse program attracted plenty of interest in just a few months’ time. Combined, roughly 35 students are playing lacrosse on the boys’ and girls’ sides. Eastwood estimated that 80 percent of them are brand new to the sport. On the boys’ team, 13 of the squad’s 16 players come from the football team.

“They’ve really embraced the game,” Eastwood said.

Eastwood, a longtime coach at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, added that despite most players being new to lacrosse, the Seraphs have already shown signs of progress on the field.

“This year is a lot about skill development,” he said. “We might be inexperienced, but we’re really athletic. We play great defense, and the stick skill level will start to improve.”

The school also expects the program to grow in numbers heading into its first year of varsity competition.

“Enrollment at the school is on an upward trajectory, so I think you’ll see more student-athletes interested,” Eastwood said.

The boys’ team includes juniors Michael Barry, Johnathan Leverock, Robert Santoro and Sean Tucker; sophomores Nolan Aloia, Izaiah Henderson, Sincere Saunders, Kajell Whyte, Gavin Toth and Shitta Sillah; and freshmen Ravi Lindsey, Malachi Treadwell, Clarence Lewis and Chris Napoli.

The girls’ team consists of juniors Franchesca Zilinski, Gabby Cavallaro, Olivia Barkey, Emily Tronolone and Sarah Gallagher; sophomores Lucia Pettersen, Lauren McInnes, Caleigh Kehoe and Makenzie Kovic; and freshmen Brianna Felice, Leigh Ann McMahon, Charlize Lam, Aliyah White, Melissa Kelly, Madison Ducsai, Abygale Zohn and Karen Nortz.