Perennial New Jersey power Summit will be tested right from the start.
The Hilltoppers, who have won 18 or more games each of the last five years (including four seasons of 20-plus wins), play at Delbarton on March 29 in what will be one of the best early season matchups in tristate lacrosse.
Chris Zanelli is getting ready.
The Providence College-bound junior midfielder, who is a three-sport standout, will be one of Summit’s top returnees in 2014.
Now, here are Chris’ perspectives on the upcoming season.
What have you been doing to get ready for the season?
To prepare for the spring, just about everyone has pushed themselves very hard to hit the ground running by the time March comes.
We play in fall and winter leagues to help with the team aspect of the game.
Also, the team is outside almost everyday after school hitting the wall, running, shooting, and going to the weight room so individuals can work on specific areas of their game to help make the team better.
How does your schedule look, what games are you looking forward to most, and who are some of your scrimmages against?
Like every year, we have put together a very challenging schedule. All of the games will be exciting, but the ones I am looking forward to the most are against our rivals Delbarton, Chatham and Westfield.
The team is also excited to continue to build on the new tradition of playing Ridgefield, Conn., every year, as well as playing a new out-of-state opponent in Massachusetts power Lincoln-Sudbury.
To prepare for these games, we scrimmage many very strong teams including Mountain Lakes, Bergen Catholic, Hunterdon Central, Bridgewater-Raritan, as well as La Salle and Ridley from Philadelphia.
What players on your team do you think will surprise some people this season?
There is no telling who could be the surprise player this year. It could really be anyone on any given day. However, one player to keep an eye on and follow throughout the year would be senior goalie Same Bebout. Sam saw some playing time last year and did great. I expect him to to have a great season between the pipes.
What do you think the strength of your team will be this year?
I believe the strength of the team this year will be the defense. We return several key players including (Syracuse University-bound) close defensemen Andrew Helmer, Sean Andrews, Matt Sajer and Matt Muller, longstick midfielders Peter McKinlay and James Tully and Sam Bebout in goal.
Our defense has always been a staple of our program and this year should be no different. Defense wins championships.
How do you view the race in your league and who do you think some of the contending teams will be?
Within our county tournament, Westfield is always a very tough team who we expect to see in the county finals again this year.
Within Group 2, there are many competitive teams but the teams that will be contending with us for a Group 2 championship come May and June will be Chatham and Somerville.
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