Ossining will be playing this season in a newly aligned league that is made up of eight teams from Northern Westchester and Putnam, including Hen Hud.

How does Ossining look as we get set for the official start of varsity practice?

We got the perspectives of junior defenseman Michael Zavarella, who is coming off a productive summer and fall playing for WestRock.

* Player’s perspective archive

* For background info on Mike, click here.

What have you been doing to get ready for the season?
I’ve been working out a lot, trying to get a little bit bigger for the season, and I’ve been running like crazy on the track team. The entire team was working as hard as they could to be as good as possible, and it really pushed me to work extra hard. All the hard work also paid off when our 4×200 relay team won gold at the league meet which was really cool.

Can you talk about some of the key players you lost from last year’s team and how you think you will be able to replace them?
Ryan Schuster was our biggest loss. He was a senior captain and made a huge difference playing close defense and LSM. Ryan Nestor was also a senior defense man that we’re going to miss, he’s a solid defenseman who was great at communicating. Those two working together really solidified the close defense and losing them along with Kennith Freitag almost all of our defense is gone. That means we’re going to have to start almost from scratch to rebuild it. As for replacing them, we have a bunch of defensemen coming up from the JV team. Although they are young they all have the potential to become solid defensmen.

What regular-season games are you most looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to playing Arlington the most. They have a new head coach (Don Connolly)  and are a building program, but most of all my good friend from WestRock, Connor Lindsey, is one of their starting attackmen and playing against him is also a blast. He’s very fast, a great dodger and always keeps me on my toes.

Another game I’m looking forward to is Hackley. Another good friend of mine from WestRock is on the team, Mike D’Alessio. He’s a great goalie who makes some outstanding saves, and I’ve been playing with him for the past two years, I think it’s going to be fun having a chance to play against him and maybe try to find the cage once or twice with him in goal.

What players on your team do you think will surprise some people this season?
I think our entire starting attack line will surprise people: Donny Hooley, Jeff Belitz and Rob Dorgan. Donny and Jeff both played HV Express this summer and improved a lot. Donny is a great feeder, has a good shot, can finish up close, and has a mind for lacrosse. Jeff also has a great shot with his left, is a solid passer, and has improved a lot since last season. Rob is a really quick, nifty attackman from the left side. He is a great finisher and a very strong dodger and isn’t afraid to bang around in close to the goal, he is also the best off-ball attackman I’ve seen. He moves beautifully off the ball to get open. And of course there’s Jamie McCulloch. He’s already committed to F&M and is completely stress free this season. Every time Jamie steps on the field he seems to get better and better and I think that he’s going to do some big things this season.

What do you think the strength of your team will be this year?
I think the team has potential to be very good. As I said before, the loss of our starting defense really hurts us and we’re going to have to start almost completely from scratch on the defensive end. But I think the defense will really come along well, I know the new guys coming in and they are all great guys and really easy to talk to and play alongside. Also our starting offense is very strong, and I believe they will be able to score a lot of goals this season, which will help to take some pressure off of the defense.

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25 Responses to “Player’s perspective: Ossining’s Michael Zavarella, junior defenseman”

  1. mid_county_spectator says:

    Nice breakdown, Zav…not enough space to mention everyone on D, but Coach Hallinan knows defense better than any other I think and he’ll have you guys ready.

    Ossining is always on the cusp of breaking through to the next level, so maybe this your year. O’s out-of-league schedule is actually harder than their league schedule.

    This should be a fun league to watch with a bunch of teams capable of winning it with PutVal as the early favorites.

    Good luck to all !

  2. beardad says:

    They gave us all we could handle last year. Good luck this year.

    Go Bears!

  3. indians_4ever says:

    Not everybody on defense is new – it depends on where guys play.

  4. mhpc_shorty says:

    Jamie’s the one you have to shut down.

    Wassup ESchust!

    See you guys on April 15.

  5. Laximus says:

    So who do we think is the favorite to win Ossining’s league – Hen Hud or Ossining?

  6. HV Lax says:

    Excellent analysis Miket. Good luck this year!

  7. kynglyon says:

    Peekskill is going to win that league!

  8. reader54 says:

    I think the first comment had it right with Putnam Valley as the favorites, right?

    Ossining is scary near the end of the season because they usually get better as the season goes and they came up only one goal short against Somers and JoJo in the playoffs two years ago and a lot of those guys are still on the team. Last year they lost to Fox Lane.

    It’ll be a tight league, but I have to agree with mid-county and go with PV, but wouldn’t be surprised if HenHud or Ossining wins.

    Good luck to all!

  9. Old Rugger says:

    1. PV
    2. HH
    3. Ossining

  10. river_brat88 says:

    I agree with reader54 and Old Rugger, Ossining has to prove they can win tight games before they win a league title.

    Last year their goal differential was -3 in 7 of their losses and they lost two games by one goal; Wappingers 5-4 and nanuet 7-6(ot). But they only got blown out one time. They gave up an average of 5.7 goals per game which was near the top of the section, but against mostly weaker teams. They lose tight games and that’s the difference between being middle of the pack and league champs.

    The thing is they can run like crazy and might be tha fastest team man for man but they don’t have the offensive skills to get those meningful goals late in the game.

    Maybe this year they can break out with their seniors.

  11. HuskyHusker_99 says:

    I have O as a stronger team than they’re getting props for I played against all of them at one point and their starters can play but they drop off on second team.

    Zav is being recruited, Bardwell is one of the best goalies around (where is he going next year), Shuster is a beast and J McCulloch should be all section easy. They are a small program and have not won the big game yet but if they’re ever going to do it this is the year.

    PV canplay, but they’re not great. HenHud isn’t getting much props either. That league is a toss up because Kennedy will beat one of them maybe PV and shake things up as spoilers.

  12. knighttime says:

    Put Valley is easily the best team in this league. When was the last time Ossining beat a good team? and HenHud’s schedule last year was way over their heads.

    Put Valley 18 Ossining 5
    Put Valley 14 HenHud 6

  13. valleyLaxGuy says:

    Ossining should have been put into the League A because they plpay four of the teams in that league

  14. clifflax says:

    Ossining is pretty over rated right now. in my opinion there not that good, and Bardwell carries the whole team on his back. Without him Ossining is nothing. O’s D should thank Bardwell game after game.

  15. clifflax says:

    Ossining is overated. Has never won a big game, and barwell caries the whole team on his back. O’s D should thank him for saving ther asses multiple times

  16. Yo-Yo-Yo-Easy says:

    Greg Bardwell is a terrific goalie, no doubt, but to infer that he saves the D game after game is a bit overstated. He’s a bit streaky and ranges from not-so-good to unbeatable. They’ve played good defense in O and he’s been a part of it. They had a bunch of games last year where the D did a good job of forcing mostly outside shots from the sides and you’re not going to score on Greg from that far away, he eats that stuff up.

    HenHud isn’t going to “walk away” with anything, but I wouldn’t be surprised of they win the league. They can do it, but PV is formidable and Ossining and JFK are trap games for them.

    At this point though, I agree with Old Rugger:
    in that order.

    Good luck to all in practice next week!

  17. rebel_Knutes! says:

    No way O wins they lost there whole defense. Bardwell and Mike are excellent but that doesnt make a whole defense. I’ve never even heard of any of there other dpoles, and Mike will send alot of time up top playing LSM so just get the ball in to the attack and let them work.


  18. tusker_country says:

    Doesn’t HH still have Sincero. He’s an equalizer.

    Ossning’s WR guys are good players, but that’s only about five or six guys. Who else do they have to carry the load?

    Does anyone know where Bardwell is going he’s a sr. isn’t he?

    O has to beat at least two of their out of league teams before they can be champs or else they won’t get past PV or HH. But if they do look out/.

  19. O-Lax says:

    Let’s make some noise Mikey and Ossining!

  20. RideLax says:

    I’ve enjoyed all the player’s perspectives. They provided great previews of the season.

  21. LaxNut92 says:

    Agreed. Good stuff

  22. O-Bro says:

    Ossining vs Fox lane tomorrow 11am

    this a big game for O.

  23. stat_star says:

    Ossining 5 Foxes 4 OT.

    Bardwell is unbelievable in goal for Ossining

  24. RiverLax says:

    Nice win vs Fox Lane to start the season boys!

  25. off on the right foot says:

    well i guess Ossining did everything thats asked of them in the blogs so far, won an out of league game (check), played good defense (check), won a close game (check), beat better competition (check, Fox Lane not great but better than Ardsley or Sleepy Hollow)

    Lacrosse culture is slowly changing in Ossining, hopefully this team can be a boost to the process, lots of talent and athletes, if the staff can find the best way to balance them they can do big things, then there will be no excuses when it comes to putting in the dedication to better the program top to bottom.

    With the athletes Ossining gets imagine what could be done with full programs practicing year round….
    Ossining needs a summer travel team thats ok with taking its lumps against superstar, bombers, renegades and such, instead of just the top kids going their own way…
    Ossining needs middle school winter teams not just high school, gym time so that the young kids can work their stick skills all year.
    75% is a kind number of how much of Ossining Lacrosse is played between March-June, with the only exception im aware of is a high school winter team, and varsity gym workouts preseason

    Fox Lane is a program who has a more of a dedication to lacrosse and Ossining got it done against them, lets use this as motivation

    they’ve added Matt Lacceti one of the best athletes in NY, he has no where to go but up, but where was the staff to get this kid playing in middle school ?? he would have been a 5 goal a game kid easy, a mismatch vs. any team

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