Gateway lacrosse squads wrap up second successful season
The second season of Gateway boys lacrosse has concluded, and head coach John Washington said the program and its players took even bigger strides this spring.
“The most satisfying things about how we played this year were our ability to possess the ball and score more and helping each other defensively by getting more physical but not overcommitting,” Washington said.
“We really started to play as a team, which was evident by multiple players scoring goals. We have much still to do, and the kids know what exactly what that is – being able to play with both hands, catching, passing, shooting and reducing turnovers and mental mistakes on both sides of the field. Several kids have made significant strides.”
Washington said it has been very tough to say goodbye to the first senior class in the program’s history. There were no seniors on last year’s inaugural squad.
He said seniors Demetri Dilucente, Matt Bolen, Collin Bucco, Joey Tranchini, Tyler Hartin, Michael Mele and Brian Frank helped lay the foundation for the program’s success for years to come.
“I am so grateful to our seniors who showed exceptional commitment and leadership in spite of knowing that we wouldn’t win much and knowing our team couldn’t qualify for any type of playoffs or section championship,” Washington said.
“Their character has set a great example for the kids who will be returning to the team next year. It is going to be very difficult to replace them, especially on defense, since four of them – Mele, Tranchini, Dilucente and Bucco – were all strong, physical players.
“We also lose three versatile players in Hartin, Bolen and Frank. Tyler could play anywhere we needed him, Matt was our best face-off player, and Brian could do face-offs while playing a strong Middie position.”
At the same time, Washington said, he is looking forward to working with the returning players as the team transitions into WPIAL play.
“We have a quite a bit of talent returning to the team and players who are really developing into true lacrosse players,” he said.
“It is very important they continue to work on their fundamentals so we can get to the next level of competing in the WPIAL with teams that have more experience than us. If we do the work in the offseason, I know we can win some games next year.”
The varsity won one game and the junior varsity won twice and earned a tie, but Washington said the win-loss record didn’t matter as much as how his players competed.
“What is important is how we played and how we made teams really work hard to have to beat us,” Washington said.
“We really need to work on scoring more and getting better shots. Our defense held opponents to an average of about five goals per game, which is really impressive. However, we only scored more than five goals once, and that was the game we won. We intend to develop more offensive threats and get our goals per game up closer to 10. At the same time, we have to continue to play great defense.”
Washington said sophomores Victor Watson, Zach Mrazik, and Jared Campbell, as well as junior Tyler Rosky, are going to have to step up and fill in on defense next year.
Gateway’s biggest scoring threats, Washington said, were sophomores Jack Washington and Greg Paladin and junior Rob Milne.
“Those three scored most of our goals this year,” coach Washington said.
“However, toward the end of the year, (sophomore) Sam Passalinqua, (sophomore) Dylan Roney, (sophomore) Gaurav Pandey and (junior) Shawn Chaudhry contributed with some great goals that kept us competing. The more scoring threats we have, the more difficult it will be for teams to focus on stopping our top three.
“We also need to work on getting (junior) Jason Katz more scoring opportunities from the X position behind the net. Jason has great stick skills and a strong shot, but we haven’t been able to get him to the front of the net enough.”
WPIAL in 2013
Gateway lacrosse representatives, including Washington, met with the Gateway School Board Athletic Committee on May 14 to discuss funding for next season as the program becomes a full member of the WPIAL.
The board, Washington said, expressed concerns over having enough money available to fund lacrosse as a WPIAL/PIAA sanctioned sport.
“We understand there are budget concerns, and we believe there is a compromise that can be worked out somewhere,” he said. “The board didn’t promise funding, but they made a verbal commitment to do everything they could to support us where it can be done.”
Washington said he is appreciative of the support from athletic director Terry Smith.
The request for funding, Washington said, mainly is to get more coaches and to provide equipment.
“Our current players have come so far in two seasons and are ready to move to the next level, which better instruction and attention can do for them,” he said.
“We are asking for equipment so that the costs associated with playing lacrosse do not prohibit those who may not have the means to invest in buying their own stuff. We are hoping to make the “fastest growing sport in America” available to as many Gateway students as possible.”