NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The Pioneers’ boys’ lacrosse team has experienced some of the program’s best success in the past two years. High scoring efforts from Jack Harvey, James Burke and Jon Ebert were overshadowed by trips deep in the NJSIAA section tournament.
Two games in to their 2015 campaign and playing without Burke and Ebert, who graduated last June, New Providence still feels destined for big things after beating Pequannock and Warren Hills to open the season.
“Every year we’ve taken a step forward,” head coach Vinny Carangelo said. “Last year we made it further than we ever did. We played Rumson-Fair Haven in the state semifinals and we felt we let it slip a way.”
Should the Pioneers advance as far as they did last year, the squad should be primed for tough competition. Because of high success rates the past few seasons, New Providence moved up to a new division within their conference, one that will provide higher level opponents.
New Providence now faces the challenge of playing Scotch Plains-Fanwood, Oratory Prep, Millburn, Cranford, St. Peter’s Prep and Bernardsville, all local hot shots in the lacrosse world.
“Now the conference is a whole new challenge because we moved up a conference due to our success,” Carangelo said. “We’re really excited to get going with that. We think its extremely challenging but also extremely rewarding.”
The Pioneers lost more than just their offensive threats in Ebert and Burke last year, defensive stars CJ Kleisch and Mimmo Coppola also graduated last spring, leaving pretty huge shoes to fill for Carangelo.
However, with the growing experience of John Slater, Mike Palmieri and Quinn Killeen coupled with Harvey on offense, as well as the addition of Johnny Shahpazian, New Providence isn’t all to worried.
“Every year, every team is different,” Carangelo said. “That's the nature of high school sports. I think other guys are ready to step up. I think Quinn and Palmieri are ready to step up. John Slater wasn’t able to play last year. John Shahpazian is a new comer…It's a lot of new faces and a lot of new guys, but we’re not suffering.”
Junior goalkeeper Garrett Pope also returns for the Pioneers. He recorded 16 wins in his first campaign on the varsity team last year.
Carangelo’s squad sees their first conference test of the year on Thursday, when they visit Scotch Plains-Fanwood. Game time is scheduled for 4 p.m.