CEDAR GROVE, NJ — After just two years as a junior varsity sport, Cedar Grove High School boys lacrosse will make its varsity debut this spring.  With an overall record of 15-3 and a successful 10-2 record during last year's junior varsity season, the Panthers are ready to transition to varsity play.

" We are both excited and nervous about the upcoming season," said head coach David Bucchino.  "It's definitely going to be a challenge for us moving to varsity, but the team has been working hard and is looking forward to competing at the varsity level."

The Panthers lost some talent to graduation, saying goodbye to captains Michael Dougan, Joe DiBari and Gerard Castellano, but many familiar faces are returning and ready to hit the turf again. The team boasts a solid roster of juniors including on offense Alex LoPresti, Nick LoPresti, Joe Amati and Max Devito, and on defense Sean Dougan and Joe Moreno with Andrew Candino in goal.  The lone senior, Eric Kriegsman, is actually new to the sport, but Bucchino said he is one to watch.  

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Though they may face teams with more experience, Bucchino remains optimistic about the upcoming season, confident the program has what it takes to be successful.

"We are a fairly young team with a majority of our bench being composed of juniors, sophomores, and freshmen," Bucchino explained.  "But we do not see that as a weakness, we just need everyone to step up. One of our biggest strengths is our leadership on the team. Our returners have really been mentors to the younger guys."

With snow interfering with scrimmages and practices and the high school field still unfinished, the Panthers are facing some obstacles, but they remain committed to putting the hard work in and are taking things one step at a time.

"Right now we are focusing one game at a time, we don't want to think too far ahead," Bucchino said.

Cedar Grove's first varsity game is scheduled for March 30 at Dwight Englewood High School at 4:30 p.m.  Their first home game is scheduled for April 1 against Newark Academy at 10 a.m.