Written by John D. Kiggins Friday, 21 May 2010 00:00
Winning lacrosse teams in Manhasset are nothing new. But when the team represents St. Mary’s High School, then that’s a little bit of a twist. After Catholic League dominance in the ’70’s and ’80s, the St. Mary’s High School lacrosse program has fallen on harder times. The enrollment shifted away from traditional hotbeds of lacrosse and its competitors got bigger and stronger. Considered a “small school,” St. Mary’s was faced with the daunting task of playing against powerhouses who had more boys trying out than were in an entire class at St. Mary’s.
Here is where the movie treatment begins. In comes an All-American lacrosse player from Johns Hopkins and professional lacrosse player who leaves a big job on Wall Street to teach English at a small Catholic school and coach lacrosse…turns the program around and now has the team 10 – 1, undefeated in league play and poised for the No. 1 seed in the playoffs beginning in two weeks. It has Academy Award written all over it. It also has college coaches noticing as a few players have gotten scholarship offers to play at the collegiate level. The lacrosse buzz has returned to the campus at St. Mary’s.
Coach Matt Panetta and assistants Pat Welsh and Tom Ritterbush have once again put St. Mary’s on the lacrosse map. The Catholic League on the Island combined with Brooklyn, Queens and New York and right-sized schools to expand the reach of lacrosse and make the league more competitive. Competing against schools like St. Dominic, Xaverian, St. Joseph’s by the Sea, St. Raymond’s, and Mt. St. Michaels, among others, allowed for more competitive games and good lacrosse. “I think the new league is good for our school and great for our kids,” stated Panetta, “We are now competing against schools that are similar in size to our school, and this year we have been tremendously successful.” And St. Mary’s has proved just how good the lacrosse is.
Success is not limited to the boys either. The girls’ team, under the leadership of Shannon Farley Tartamella and Jacklyn Bonomo, is playoff-bound, as well with a match next week determining the seeding. Both teams enjoyed victories at the traditional “Night Game” this year and momentum is gaining. The boys JV also enjoyed a winning season and enter the playoffs with a 4th seed and poised to make a run. Panetta commented, “With the support of our school and our lacrosse alumni, we believe the St. Mary’s lacrosse program has a bright future.”
So lacrosse in Manhasset continues to experience winning, on both sides of Northern Boulevard.