CRANFORD, NJ - Mark Christiano graduated from Cranford High School last night and although he will leave the physical halls of the school for the last time, his legacy will live on, especially the footprint he has left on Cranford sports.
Christiano was a three sport athlete, participating in soccer, ice hockey and lacrosse, and this year he was most instrumental in bringing Cranford High School its first lacrosse state sectional title, with a group of boys he's played with for most of his life.
Christiano comments on his choice of sports, "Lacrosse has always been my favorite sport with soccer and then hockey following. Also, over time I felt lacrosse gave me the best chance to play at the next level. I like lacrosse better than soccer and hockey because I have the most control of my stick and accuracy on shots and passes, and there are many ways to go about scoring."
The road to capturing the lacrosse state title began a long time ago, as Christiano and his teammates were part of a group that began playing together in third grade. Over the years, playing with the Cranford Lacrosse Club, then turned into playing with other teams and participating in tournaments during the summer months to keep consistency over the year.
That persistence paid off as Christiano lead his team to an early 7-0 record and eventual state title, he comments, "Our group of seniors this year paved the way for our successful season. We also had key underclassmen define there roles and step up in big games. We were more focused on winning each game at a time."
And while the team captured the title, Christiano's coach, Al Reinoso, received the Coach of the Year nod from nj.com. Christiano shared his own thoughts on the coach's success, "Coach Reinoso was named coach of the year for his determination to make us all better. This year was focused and everything was clicking when we worked hard. Each practice and call in a game had a purpose that helped us win big games. I admire his old school attitude and passion for the game."
As Christiano looked forward to playing lacrosse at the next level, he considered different schools both near and far from home. The University of Scranton had been the front runner until recently when he decided to sign on to play at Rutgers University.
Christiano talks about his decision, "I ultimately chose to play at Rutgers because of the Big 10 Conference affiliation and for the highly ranked business school. The business program is state of the art and gives me a great opportunity to land a job out of college. Big 10 sports are competitive and Rutgers gives me the combination of a solid education and top level athletics."
Brian Brecht, Head Lacrosse Coach at Rutgers University, comments on Christiano's talent and what interested them in his play, "We are very excited to have Mark join us here at Rutgers. Watching him this season he certainly showed and demonstrated what a talented athlete and competitor he was to go along with the skill set of being one of the leading scores in the state. Hearing about his excellence in the classroom, we were excited to have him visit our campus and introduce him to what Rutgers could offer him on the field as a Big Ten student-athlete and in the classroom with our School of Business."