CLARK, NJ -  With the goal of improving on its 9-7 record in 2016, the Arthur L. Johnson High School Crusaders varsity lacrosse team hit spring training hard.  Supported by a number of returning players, the team expects to bring serious energy into the 2017 season.

“Offensively we return almost our entire unit,” Head coach Lou Van Bergen said. “We should be stronger than last year. Our goalies will battle for time as they are very even in terms of talent.”

Van Bergen, who is entering his eighth season as lacrosse head coach, took some time to discuss the season ahead:

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The seniors on this year’s team include midfielders Nick Fischetti, Brett Roessle, Jack Lomeli, Joe West and defenders Jon Duffy and Vin Campbell, who will play Division II lacrosse at Mercy College.

Last year, Roessle scored 21 goals and had two assists for 23 points, along with 16 groundballs. Fischetti scored 17 goals and had eight assists, adding up to 25 points, including 42 groundballs in the 2016 season.

Lomeli scored 16 goals to go along with six assists, adding up to 22 points in the 2016 season, along with fielding 26 groundballs.

 “Defensively we have a few very important holes to fill on close defense,” Van Bergen said. 

Lost to graduation were attackman Blake Parenti, face-off specialist Will Horner and defensive standout Kyle Myers.  

The Crusaders fell in the Union County Tournament Quarterfinals on May 3 last year to New Providence High School by a final score of 8-7.

They made the state playoffs, but lost to Glen Ridge High School in the NJSIAA South, Group 1 First Round by a final score of 10-6 on May 18.

They were also co-division champions of the Kimber Division with Morris Knolls High School, but have their eyes set on trying to be the sole winners of their division this season.

Duffy and Campbell were starters throughout their entire high school lacrosse careers, including the 2014 South, Group 1 State Sectional Championship Team.

Duffy recorded one assist last year, while Campbell scored one goal, and the two will be key anchors on the Crusaders defense in the 2017 season.

Juniors on the team this year include midfielder Greg Zukwoski, attackman Mike Bruno and goalie Dylan Bohm.

Bruno scored 19 goals to go along with 11 assists for 30 points last season.

Sophomores on the team are midfielder Brandon Hund, who verbally committed to Air Force Academy in September to play lacrosse, goalie Josh Hill, defender Thomas Bizzoco and attackman Eric Bretz.

Last year, Hund scored 19 goals and had 16 assists for 35 points, while fielding 49 groundballs.

A key newcomer on the team is freshman Evan Parenti, an attackman.

Duffy, Campbell, Roessle and West were named the co-captains of this year’s team.

The 2017 season for the Johnson Crusaders varsity lacrosse team starts Wednesday afternoon on the road at Robbinsville High School at 4:30 p.m.

Their home opener will be Saturday, April 1 against New Providence High School at 11:00 a.m.

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