It was a day Joe Varello and thousands of players from through Long Island had been anxiously awaiting.

And it came today.

Varsity practices and tryouts officially got under way.

For Varello, the 2013 season comes with especially high expectations.

After all, the senior faceoff midfielder plays for Smithtown West, which has emerged into one of the top programs not only on Long Island but in the nation.

Varello, who took faceoffs for the Long Island team at the Under Armour games, committed to the United States Naval Academy this past summer.

Now, here are Joe’s perspectives on the season.11-300x150

What have you been doing to get ready for the season?
I decided to not to play basketball this winter so that I can focus on preparing for the lacrosse season. I’ve spent most of the winter in the weight room working my strength and overall conditioning.

I’ve also been working with my faceoff trainer, Matt Schomburg, every weekend as well as at some clinics. I also traveled to Boston this winter and competed in a national faceoff camp.

I’ve been running almost every day and working on my speed and conditioning.

How does your schedule look, what games are you looking forward to the most, and who are some of your scrimmages against?
Our division has proven to always be competitive and arguably one of the best divisions in the country.  We have to prepare for every game as if we are playing for a county championship.

I’m really looking forward to our first game of the season, home under the lights against Syosset (March 22). This game will give us a chance to see how we stack up with one of the best teams from Nassau.

The two games everyone is looking forward to are West Islip and Ward Melville. Those are always hard-fought games that play a big role in seeding for playoffs.

A game I am also looking forward to is Northport. I feel Northport will be looking for revenge after what we did to them last year, It should be a great game.

This spring we will be hosting another jamboree at Smithtown West. Teams from all over the Northeast come out to play. It’s good for us to see how we do against different types of teams.

What players on your team do you think will surprise some people?
What’s good about our team this year is that we are very well-balanced and have good players at every position.

Going into our season, we have 17 players that are committed to play lacrosse at the D-I level.

At attack, look for Pat O’Brien to have a breakout season. He’s a great feeder and works really well with Ryan Keenan.

At midfield, Brian Masi is going to be a big-time point scorer. He is great between the restraining lines and a great shooter, dodger and feeder. He does it all for us.

In the net, junior Matt Schmidt will anchor our D and look for him to surprise a lot of people. He’s a great goalie who makes big saves in clutch situations.

Frankie Brier will also have a breakout year. He’s a very physical very athletic defensemen. He’s great in transition and helps turn defense into offense.

Also, look for Christian Zawadski and Kyle Mathie, two of our best players, to contribute a lot this year.

What do you think your teams strength will be this year?
Like I said before, this team is extremely balanced. We have solid players at every single position all with a good amount of experience in big games. There are many good players on this team which means a lot of threats to score.

I think it’s going to be hard for teams to match up with us on defense.

Also, we have a rock solid defense who play very well together. There isn’t one guy that you can isolate and go one on one against and beat. They are all big-time defenders.

As a team, we need to focus on our mindset. Coach Molti (Head coach Bob Moltisanti Jr.) has been emphasizing what it takes to win, and I know this team understands what it takes.

We’re focusing on finishing every play and doing the little things correctly. If we keep this mentality, I feel we will have a very successful season.

How do you view the race in your league and who do you think some of the contenders will be?
I still think that it will come down to us, Ward Melville and West Islip. But that doesn’t mean we are taking any team lightly.

The games are played for a reason, you have to give everyone the respect as if you were playing West Islip or Ward Melville.

Suffolk D1 is a very talented division and has a lot of good teams, all with the talent to beat anyone at anytime. As long as our team respects and plays every game like it’s West Islip, we will be successful.

If you’re a player from the NY/NJ/CT tristate region and would like to share your perspectives on the 2012 season, send an email to

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Posted In: Long Island lacrosse, Player's perspective, Section 11

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10 Responses to “Player’s perspective: Joe Varello, Smithtown West (NY) midfielder”

  1. tiredlaxman says:

    Great job Joseph!!! i couldnt have said it better myself!!

  2. wow says:

    Great job for this young man.

    does that seriously say 17 players going d-1 on that west roster? That is great for the players – but I gotta think there will be some college-level busts in there. you can’t tell me that player 4, 5 and 6 off of say, Northport or Sachem North, aren’t way better than player 15, 16 and 17 off of smithtown west. there are only 60+ division 1 schools and there are hundreds or even thousands of high school teams to draw from. if college coaches are just taking any player with a smithtown sticker on their helmet, that smacks of laziness in recruiting to me. 17 players on one roster going D1, while smithtown west as a program, has one section championship (mind you as a combined team with east in 2003) in its history and only one player who has made a big name for himself nationally in the college game in the last 20 years that I can think of (pannell)??? The team has never won a long island championship either. These verbal commitments are out of control and this is a great example of that. 17 DI commitments on one roster? that means that this high school team could beat a good number of college teams…I doubt that though.

  3. IslandLaxpert says:

    Of course 17 is extraordinary. But some HS teams like St. A’s have had that many in routinely year in and year out. Maybe you are a new follower of lax on LI? Keep in mind SW is a large A school and has 30-40 kids capable of starting on most varsity teams.

  4. wow says:

    I am from the island – live here and love it. St. Anthony’s is different because of the private school setting. name another nationally recognized smithtown player on the college level outside of Panell, who did not even grow up in smithtown initially. smithtown has about 1800-2000 in that high school, I believe. About the same number in east. It is a nice sized class A school.

    How many players on Ward Melville and West Islip are going D1 – does anyone know?

    Next we are going to hear that 7 players on the Gelinas middle school team are signed to top 20 schools. This is out of hand and the system is headed for a big fall.

  5. tiredlaxman says:

    Hey “wow”, which must be latin for jerk, take your issues with the recruiting process to the NCAA…as for the purpose of this venue it is for student athletes to give their prospects and opinions on the up coming seasons not for old idiots like you and me to give our opinions…and by the way Smithtown West is that good!!

  6. wow says:

    If you look at any roster on the old “super six” teams you will see in any given year there are about 10 to 20 D1 players. Maybe like 6 or 7 seniors, 6 or 7 juniors and the small handful of sophomores and freshman who make the team. In the past though, these players have not been committed at one time.

    That said – it is a disservice to these young men, their families, their coaches and their school to have sophomores and freshman verbally committing to college programs. Some of these kids have never experienced the rigors of a varsity season. It is a disgrace that college coaches are preying on these young kids. these coaches are vultures. How can Hopkins have a freshman in high school commit to Hopkins if the kid has never taken an AP class? What is the point of a high school team if you can just get plucked up off of some travel team in the summer? Long Island High School Lacrosse is an institution – Texas has football and we have lax. Friday night lights on LI is when West Islip play Smithtown. Verbal commits threaten to undermine the entire game and a culture on long island that has thrived for half a century or more in some places.

    If a sophomore player who has committed to a college decides that he doesn’t like his school coaching staff riding him in practice for be lazy or whatever, what is now stopping the kid from quitting and only playing club/travel?

  7. common sense says:

    Wow – please re-read Tiredlaxman’s comments. This article is a perspective written by a 17 year old boy, who is giving great, positive, well-written comments about his team. It is not the time or the place to debate the issues with recruiting. That debate is being covered by many other blogs and forums. Can we please give some credit where it is deserved without taking away from the current players.

    Yes, SW has 17 D-1 commits – which means that those boys have the potential to be contributing members for those college teams – it doesn’t mean that they will be super-star, nationally recognized players. Last I checked lacrosse is a team support. No team can play the game with only one player, so that one nationally recognized player needs the team behind him. It is disrespectful to forecast “college level bust” here. Is it a bust to be a contributing member of the team?

    Please find the appropriate venue for your argument and not have it here at the expense of the excitement of the upcoming season for a high school player.

  8. LI Guy says:

    Great to see SW in the national rankings. Should be a great year for them.

  9. West is Best says:

    Go get em Joe!

  10. weesBiole says:

    Anyone have info on how SW looked in scrimmage vs Sayville this week?

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