SPRINGFIELD, NJ - Youth Lacrosse President and Founder, Jeff Kaesshaefer, finally saw his dreams come true after four long years of building a program that has quickly grown from 18 kids to over 141. His dream was to see a high school lacrosse team with "Dayton" on its jersey.
On April 11, 2017, led by only a few of Jeff's former youth players: Robert Spagnola, Jack Pleva, Evan Berkowitz, Nathan Calling, Arshad Lasitor, Jordan Lavine, Adam Weinstein, and his son Jake Kaesshaefer, Dayton made school history as they took the field against Scotch Plains in a modified JV game.
A sport which had always given the image of a privileged or an elitist game as nearly all the early teams came from private or prep schools, lacrosse had about 100 high school teams in the 1990's grow to 184 in 2003. Then it grew to over 330 teams in 2017. That is tremendous growth and that growth has now hit the Township of Springfield and Jonathan Dayton High School.
Jeff Kaesshaefer and his coaches, Robert Spinner, Chris Stebbings, Chad Rubin, Phil Turnbull, Brady Hendrickson, and Dermot McLeer all helped achieved this beginnig. One other achievement was the addition of Coach Lynn Stebbings. She is a former College player, who helped not only with our second and third grade boys, but more importantly with the growth of the Springfield girls lacrosse teams. From a standing start that effort has grown from ten girls two years ago to two teams with over 30 girls participating now.
Although the numbers and experience aren't quite there yet for our first high school season, the promising youth teams coming to Dayton over the next few seasons provide hope that should change quickly.
The Springfield Boys eighth grade team, the programs first group that started in fourth grade, currently has the most experience and the most Summer Club players. This group, coached by Brady Hendrickson, which only won 2 games over a two year period finished at 9-9 last season as seventh graders. This year they are currently 7-1 and have won 13 of their last 15 games. What is even more impressive is that many of these victories are against A and AA Teams Springfield is a B team.
This season looks very promising as these boys begin their quest for a State Championship The NJJLL uses a State Tournament format with over 70 eighth grade teams participating and four State Champions crowned).
This team gives promise to the future of Dayton Lacrosse and to Lacrosse in the Township of Springfield. It starts with a stingy Defense led by goalie Nick Stampolous (Force Summer Club), Cole Kebea (Force Summer Club), Anthony Apicella (Force Summer Club), Anthony Corigliano (Emeralds Summer Club), Sam Roth (Force Summer Club), Daniel Munoz, and second year player David Greenman. It continues with a more patient offense lead by Gavin Dzikowski (14 goals, 3 Assists) (2Knights Summer Club), Mike Kanarek (5 Goals, 2 Assists) (Emeralds Summer Club), Elijah White (5 Goals)(Emeralds Summer Club), Ethan Coelho (4 Goals, 1 Assist)(Force Summer Club) and David Ares (4 Assists)(Force Summer Club). Then there are the experienced returning players Alex Gary (2 Goals, 1 Assist), Jordan Berkowitz (1 Goal, 2 Assists), Gary Mignon (3 Goals, 1 Assist), Ryan Sickinger (2 Goals), Jordi Frei (1 Assist)