CEDAR GROVE, NJ - After missing his junior year due to injury, Joe Amati is happy to be back on the field and contributing to the Cedar Grove boys lacrosse team's current 7-1 record.  With 14 goals, 13 assists and 42 ground balls so far this season, the senior midfielder is a presence on both offense and defense, making him this week's Allstate Cedar Grove Athlete of the Week.  The Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Shelby Mobley, Allstate Insurance Agent, 471 Pompton Ave., Cedar Grove. 

"Joe has been playing really well this season," said Head Coach David Bucchino.  "His contributions go beyond scoring goals, he's delivering on assists and ground balls too."

"The season is really coming together.  We're off to a great start at 7-1," Amati said.  "We're working hard an winning games."

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For Amati, the team's bond and work ethic have been its biggest strengths this season, noting the team does not quit.  Last week, down 4-0 against Nutley, the Panthers battled back to win 6-5 in double overtime with Amati tallying two goals and an assist in the win.

"The way we are meshing together has been great.  We're really growing together and its a great team to be part of," Amati said.  "I think our biggest strength is the determination and grit that we bring to the field and the physicality of our game.  We really want ot win and I think we are surprising some teams."

As for challenges, Amati said the biggest one is being known as a new program and perhaps not getting the respect the team feels it deserves.  Cedar Grove High School's lacrosse program is only in its second varsity year.  

"Being known as a new program is tough with some teams thinking we are a joke and not as good as other teams," Amati explained. "But I think we're proving them wrong."

Indeed Cedar Grove currently sits at the top of its conference, but there are still tough games ahead and Amati has realistic goals for both himself and his team.  

"My personal goal is to be the best I can be both as a player and as a captain and to keep working with the younger players and helping them adjust to the high school game," he said.  "As for the team we want to keep winning games -- to win as many as we can and to go as far in the states as we can."

On being named Athlete of the Week, Amati is practical as well.  "It feels great to be recognized and to know my hard work is being noticed and it just makes me want to work even harder," he said.  

The Cedar Grove Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Shelby Mobley Allstate, 471 Pompton Avenue, Cedar Grove. 

TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove  is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.

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