BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Rain pounded down on the turf field at Governor Livingston High School on Saturday afternoon. The weather, however, did not dampen the support that the Highlanders had for the Wounded Warriors Project. This game, the team wore red, white and blue camouflage jerseys in honor of the occasion, donated by the booster club. According to woundedwarriorproject.com, the organization “serves veterans and service members who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound, co-incident to their military service on or after September 11, 2001 and their families.” With this game, the Gov. Livingston Lacrosse team was able to support and honor those veterans.
“I have a very good friend, Matt Hutchinson - who was our honorary captain, and accepted our donation on behalf of the Wounded Warrior Project - who served in two combat tours in Iraq as a United States Marine, and he inspired me to make the Wounded Warrior Project a part of our fundraiser, and to host a game in dedication to the Wounded Warrior Project,” Head Coach Chet Parlavecchio said, as he explained the motive behind the fundraiser.
The Highlanders started the first quarter off strong with seven goals. Two came from Jon Wong, and Matt Richel, Kyle Wahlers, Turner Haddad, Andrew Cahill, and Zach Miller all slammed one past the High Point goaltender. High Point’s Rudy LePera chucked the ball past GL goaltender Marvin Steller, and the first quarter ended 7-1. Gov. Livingston kept possession of the ball for the majority of the first quarter and continued that play into the second quarter.
“The boys maintained their focus and it was very important to them to get out to a fast start and to win to make the day even more memorable. Our seniors really led the way today, they got our team focused and made sure we came out with a win,” added Parlavecchio.
High Point was first to score in the second quarter, a goal from John Morris with 6:40 remaining. In the last five minutes, the GL boys peppered the High Point goal and finally broke through at 3:10 with a goal from Wong. Following Wong’s point, Miller, Will Nicholson, and Richel each upped the score in the last two minutes, the second quarter finishing 11-2.
The third quarter was controlled by the Wildcats and brought four goals from High Point attack Morris. All four goals were scored in under six minutes. Kyle Wahlers and Doug Anderson both added to the GL lead with one goal apiece, the third quarter ending 13-6.
The final quarter began with two early goals from Wong. Cahill sliced the ball past the High Point goalie, as did Nicholson with a man down. High Point’s Morris continued to push the Wildcats forward with two goals, but was unable to close in on the Highlander’s nine-point lead.
The final score was 17-8. Senior Jon Wong finished the game with five goals.
Coach Parlavecchio affirmed, “It was a very special feeling to win on such a great event. It is really a testament to our team and leadership of the team to be able to focus on the task at hand, which was winning a lacrosse game, with such a big event going on, and coming off a very tough loss on Thursday.”
GL Lacrosse honored Wounded Warriors all over the country with their win, as well as within their own families. Throughout the game, often during timeouts, the names of Highlanders were called, followed by a family member(s) that has served or is currently serving in the Armed Forces. Gianluca Baglioni, Greg Biskaduros, Turner Haddad, Andrew Cahill, Tony Pelligrini, Andrew Rittman, Doug Anderson, and Will and Chris Nicholson all played for their grandfathers this game. Jared and Justin VanOostendorp played for both their uncle and their grandfather. Connor Esnes played for his cousin and Jon Wong played for his father.
“Through the team's hard work, we were able to donate $4,000 to the cause,” reported Parlavecchio. “It is such an outstanding cause and it is the least we can do for such courageous people who put their lives on the line on a daily basis.”
At the game, $250 in donations was raised, which will also go to Wounded Warrior Project.
The Governor Livingston Highlanders face the Morris Catholic Crusaders on Thursday, April 27 away at 4:30 p.m.