Wilbur Cross’ Alex Trasacco is a coach who has never concerned himself with wins and losses in a program which typically sees low numbers and fields inexperienced players.
Development and improvement have always been the focus. But this season, as a co-op team with the addition of players from Career, Hillhouse, the Sound School and New Haven Academy, Trasacco has more depth and talent than in any of his prior five seasons as head coach.
As a result, the Governors find themselves in unchartered waters — over .500 (3-2) after the first five games.
“This is the best start we have had in my tenure as head coach at Wilbur Cross,” Trasacco said. “Our team is showing flashes of very good lacrosse, but we are also making mistakes — when it comes to the basics — at the wrong times. I think our success is a result of the hard work we have put in and the players understanding what we need to do when a situation presents itself.
“I am very pleased with how we are playing right now. We are playing with heart and hustle and are getting better as a whole unit. We have a lot of players that can get into game situations this year, which is helping out quite a bit.”
Trasacco also credits the addition of a new assistant coach for the Governors’ success — his son, former player and 2010 Wilbur Cross graduate Casey Trasacco.
“My longtime assistant, John Loricco, had an opportunity to coach at Southern Connecticut State with his brother, Anthony Loricco (Owls men’s head coach, a club team),” Trasacco said. “I was lucky enough to pick up Casey. I have been very lucky to go from one assistant coach who had the same ideas and thoughts as me to another with the same chemistry. An easy transition like that is important.”
Among the top players for the Governors have been senior attackmen Cody Wright (Cross) and Harrison Mass (Sound). At midfield the team has had solid contributions from junior Conor Pickering (Sound), freshman Zion Setals (Academy), junior Cameron Schmitz (Cross) and freshman Harry Zehner (Cross).
The defense has played very well as a unit, led by junior Sammy Rosofsky (Cross), and sophomores Steve Graf (Hillhouse) and Alex Mass (Sound). They have been backed up by newcomers Chris Edwards (Cross), a sophomore, and senior Mark Vuolo (Sound).
“I think our biggest improvements, in addition to our offense, has been the play of our long stick middie, Lewie Nelken (sophomore), and our goalie, Gabe Stiles (sophomore), both from Wilbur Cross,” Trasacco said. “They have both improved dramatically over last year and are far ahead of being second-year players.”
Leading the team’s offense is Wright (16 goals) and Mass (nine goals). The defensive leaders are Nelken (17 ground balls) and Stiles (67 saves).
“We have a great mix of players with experience and those who are new to the sport,” Trasacco said. “The biggest advantage this gives us is that the experienced players help the newer players out in practice, which contributes to the family atmosphere we have created during my tenure at Wilbur Cross. We call it ‘laxfam’ on this team.”
North Haven Rolling
North Haven coach Eric Bailey admits his team has come a long way since its first varsity season two years ago. But despite a 4-1 start, he’s also a realist.
“It’s a long season filled with highs, lows and its share of adversity,” Bailey said. “Saturday was our first gut check and, although we lost the game, the silver lining is the kids hung together, never quit and believed until the final whistle they had a shot to win. The program has come pretty far over the last two years.”
North Haven started 4-0 by beating Shelton, Notre Dame-West Haven, Branford and Hand — all teams which beat the Indians last season.
Among the top players are junior attackmen Cole Pecora, Colin Uyeki and Chris Broadbent and senior midfielders Ethan Suraci and Mike Halloran. Suraci, who takes the majority of faceoffs, has assumed more of the scoring responsibility in recent games.
Sophomores Jake Kastenhuber, Conner Suraci, Pat McKenna, Nick Campanelli and freshman Bowen Brennan fill in the remaining four midfield spots. Defensively, the top players include sophomore goalie Josh Back and defenders Jeremy Imperati, a sophomore, freshman Max Sullivan and juniors Jordan Fredericks, Zach Kastenhuber and Aric Merly.
“The future is certainly bright for our young motivated team,” Bailey said.