VERONA, NJ - Coming off an improved 6-10 season the Verona boys lacrosse team is setting its sights on making history.
“The seniors have realized we’re the only team in Verona that has never won a division so that’s kind of been a goal for us the last few years and we’re trying to move forward with that goal this year,” said Head Coach Matt Diglio.
Having a roster that boasts a majority of seniors, the Hillbilly squad has much to prove heading into this year.
“This is the first class that I’ve had all four years with me and they have put so much work into the off season that they are really excited for this year,” said Diglio.
Verona will be led in 2019 by their stout defensive unit. Senior captains Matt Aldiero and Brandon Cariani will look to snuff out opposing attackers. Last season the duo combined for 117 ground balls.
“Those two are great leaders and the young ones look up to them on how to play defense, but also how to go about everyday business because they’ve been going for so long,” said Diglio.
The defensive group will be rounded out with three additional players. Senior Jack Gautieri, junior Rich Digeronimo, and sophomore Ethan DiClimente will all factor in for the squad this year.
“It’s a group that has brought a lot, not only in terms of lacrosse, but altogether they’re very close,” said Diglio.
The defense will look to protect the cage which once again will be manned by Harrison Keating. Keating, a senior captain as well, was 10-4 last season as a starter posting 175 saves.
“[Keating] gives up his body everyday to make any kind of save he can and he’s become the focal point of the defense and the heart and soul of the team,” said Diglio.
In the midfield three seniors will help the transition attack. Jeremy Boub, Zach Balogh, and Brendan Irwin will all look to continue to grow in 2019.
Offensively Verona comes in as polished as they have been in previous seasons. Captain Jarrod Keating will lead the way after netting 24 goals and 17 assists last season as a junior. Keating could collect his 100th career point this season for Verona.
“[Keating] is the guy who can score you a goal or be a feeder because he has almost the same amount of goals and assists every year,” said Diglio.
Supplementing the attack for Verona will be junior Jerry Strippoli and sophomore Jack Lonsinger. Last season the duo combined for 46 goals and 35 assists.
“They are a very good group offensively,” said Diglio.
With the season opener less than two weeks away, the squad is working on fundamentals and concepts. In the past the group has been dominant on one side of the ball and Diglio and company hope that changes in 2019.
“We’ve been working on everything, but our focus is to get better as a team not just offense and defense, but connecting the two together as one unit,” said Diglio.
Verona will look to get off to a solid start when they take on Newark Academy on March 29. This game has come to be somewhat of a rivalry over the last several years.
“That’s one of our biggest rivals year in and year out, we’re close in location and that’s always a battle and we’re looking for that again,” said Diglio.
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