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.
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.
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