We brought you All-America selections for New York’s Section 1 back on May 27.
In addition to those 10 selections, four more Hudson Valley standouts earned All-America honors from the Mid-Hudson region: senior longstick midfielder/faceoff specialist Josh Hernandez of Middletown; sophomore defenseman Connor Filipowski of Warwick Valley; junior attackman Joey Sessa of Minisink Valley; and junior defender Alec Tocco of Rondout Valley.
Though Hernandez is the lone senior in that group, he may also be the least familiar when it comes to name recognition among college coaches.
That’s because Hernandez did not start playing lacrosse until the winter of his sophomore year.
“After getting cut from the JV basketball team in the fall of my sophomore year, my friend and former teammate Suhayl Abdul-Latif gave me his extra defensive stick and began teaching me the fundamentals,” Hernandez said. “I quickly found a love for the sport, and started practicing my game 24/7.”
It didn’t take long for Hernandez, who also skateboarded competitively, to make lacrosse his main focus.
It paid off in the form of an outstanding junior season and dominant senior season in which the athletic, 6-foot-2, 190-pound righty excelled both on defense and in the faceoff X.
Despite picking up the game late, he also demonstrated outstanding stick skills in both takeaway checks and even on offense. With his team a man down, he scored the game-winning goal with 5.5 seconds remaining in regulation in a 6-5 win over Monroe-Woodbury on the Middie Bears’ Senior Night on May 14.
“It was a pretty amazing feeling,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez’s growth as a player helped Middletown grow as a team. The Middie Bears finished 10-6 and won the Division 1 title for the first time.
“I feel my game expanded tremendously since the first time picking up a stick,” he said. “I believe my love for lacrosse, lacrosse IQ growth, constant physical training, stick work and year-round playing experience helped turn me into the player I am today.”
A player who’s earned all-conference and all-section honors twice and who finished with 17 goals, 14 assists and 31 points and 372 groundballs in his two varsity seasons while winning 67 percent of his faceoffs.
“A strength of mine would have to be my versatility,” Hernandez said. “I played LSM, took faceoffs, played on the man-up offense and on the man-down defense.
“My size, stick skills, hustle, and competitive nature are also a big part of my game. I would describe my style of play as tenacious.”
Hernandez’s late start put him behind when it came to gaining collegiate notice.
“By the time I picked up my stick for the first time, kids in my grade were already committing,” Hernandez said.
Though he played travel lacrosse for the Hudson Valley Express during the summer and fall of 2013, he didn’t participate in any individual showcases.
But credit the newly launched Division II program at Lincoln Memorial University, which will field its first time next spring, for finding out about Hernandez and landing a commitment from him. He also considered Limestone, Tampa, Lake Erie, Lees-McRae, Mars Hill and Mount Saint Mary’s.
“The main factors in my decision were LMU’s amazing athletic training program, the beautiful campus, and knowing that we will be making history once we step on campus,” he said. “Coach (Ryan) Kuhn is also doing an amazing job recruiting top talent from all over.”
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