Any discussion of the upper echelon teams in the nation’s No. 1 hotbed for lacrosse, the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut tristate region, must include Mountain Lakes.
The Garden State powerhouse is eager to win a Tournament of Champions title in 2013 for what would be the first time since 2008. As you will hear more about, Mountain Lakes has fallen to Glen Ridge in the state tourney in each of the last two seasons.
The Lakers have a returning nucleus that includes junior attackman Christian Cuccinello, who is bound for Villanova University.
The 6-foot, 198-pound righty is strong with either hand and adept at feeding and finishing, as evidenced by his highlight reel.
What have you been doing to get ready for the season?
Between my playing football in the fall and basketball right now, it has definitely been hard to prepare as much as I would like to.
Many of our lacrosse players played football together on a team that went 11-1 this fall and advanced to the state finals. I try to keep my stick in my hands as much as possible in the off season by going to the wall and shooting with my teammates.
Playing in the indoor league once a week with my teammates and competing against other New Jersey teams is another thing that am I doing to get ready for the season.
Our schedule looks challenging as always this season. There are many excellent teams on our schedule that we cannot wait to compete against. Every year our schedule is packed with good teams that put us to the test.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to playing our rival Delbarton.
After splitting with them last year in two exciting games, I am definitely looking forward to seeing them again.
I also am definitely excited to play Glen Ridge, which knocked us out of the state tournament for the second year in a row last year. We also play Ridgewood and Don Bosco Prep, which are always exciting games.
Our scrimmage schedule includes South Jersey powerhouse St. Augustine’s, along with Summit, Hunterdon Central, Bernards and tournaments at Daniel Hand (in Madison, Conn.) and Downingtown (Pa.).
What player or players on your team do you think will surprise some people this season?
I think our senior goalie, Jared Bernstein, will really excel for us this season. He had a great junior season for us last year but still doesn’t really get the respect he deserves from around the state. He will be wearing the honorary No. 44 for us this year and has been working extremely hard this offseason and I can’t wait to see him perform for us. He is a part of a very strong senior class that will lead the way for us this season.
What do you think the strength of your team will be this year?
It’s hard to say what the strength of our team will be this year. I think we are very solid in all aspects of the field. We have guys that have been on the varsity field before at all positions along with some new contributors and young talent that can fill any spots we need them to.
We return a lot of players on defense, but we also have a lot of talent on an offense that will be exciting to watch. This is a very hardworking group that (Head) Coach (Tim) Flynn will have ready to compete come March 1.
How do you view in the race in your league and who do you think some of the contending teams will be?
The Gibbs Division is kind of like the SEC football conference.
There is never a game you can count as any easy win, as we learned last year.
There is never a game that is not competitive in this league.
Don Bosco returns a lot of guys after a great season last year and looks to be a main contender along with us, Ridgewood and Glen Ridge.
Winning the Gibbs is always a huge goal of ours, along with defending our county championship and winning our group in states, and then later the Tournament of Champions.
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