Posted: 10/02/2012 | Last updated: October 23, 2012 at 11:09 AM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Lehigh men’s lacrosse team hosted its sixth annual Community Night on Friday, which saw nearly 100 youngsters come out and learn from the defending Patriot League Champion Mountain Hawks. The one-hour clinic has continued to grow, beginning with only 15 attendees six years ago to where it is today, as one of the most highly-anticipated fall events for both the Mountain Hawks and the Lehigh Valley community.
“This was a night for us to welcome the young aspiring lacrosse players in the Lehigh Valley into our program and be part of our team,” said Cassese. “We really enjoyed having them come out and I think they did too. It was a great turnout and a lot of fun.”
“The support we get from the local area is unbelievable,” said senior attackman Dante Fantoni. “The more we win, the more kids come out, which is great. We love seeing support for our team. All these [youngsters] will be future players, maybe even here, so it’s great to see them all out here.”
The night began with a brief talk from Coach Cassese followed by a quick introduction from Lehigh’s entire roster. Local products Ty Souders (Macungie, Pa.), Kurt Kaunas (Schnecksville, Pa.) and Andrew Iacocca (Allentown, Pa.) received especially big cheers as Coach Cassese used them as examples that no matter where you’re from, you can play lacrosse at a high level.
Everyone then hit the field for an hour, splitting into position groups where the youngsters learned from the Lehigh players.
“We focused on small fundamental drills, the basics of our sport… the things we do every day in practice” said Cassese. “These kids need to understand that it’s important for them to do those fundamentals of our sport every single day, just like our guys do.”
Following the clinic, many of the youngsters remained for the Alumni Game as the current Mountain Hawks faced off against a talented group of alums. Returning for the game were recent graduates Cameron and Roman Lao-Gosney, Blaise Fullen and Adam Johnston, among others. All-Patriot League defenseman Richard Bradley also returned for the game while Kevin Donovan Jr. paced the Alumni attack with a hat trick.
“The turnout has been terrific,” said Cassese. “I think it speaks volumes about the growth of the sport in the Lehigh Valley. We’ve tried to do our best to open our doors to the young kids in this area. I’m excited about that. Hopefully we can continue to grow the relationship between those folks and our program.”
Following three quarters against the alumni, the current team split up and played the final quarter against each other. The Mountain Hawks continue hard at work in preparation for the spring season. Next up in the fall is the Nick Colleluori Classic where they’ll face Hofstra and Robert Morris.
“We’re trying to make every connection we can to the young lacrosse players in the Lehigh Valley,” said Cassese. “Having them come out here and get connected to our program, the hope is they come back in the spring. We have a great slate with half of our games at home, including some big ones. Hopefully they come out and support us and we can put a good product out there for them to see.”
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