Sparta boys lacrosse was poised for success this spring

Sparta. Head Coach Pat Shea considers what might have been, if the coronavirus had not stopped these talented boys in their tracks. “Our top returning talent would have been our senior class,’’ he said.

Sparta /
02 Jun 2020 | 05:05

Pat Shea, the knowledgeable head coach of the Sparta High School boys lacrosse program, knows what it takes to succeed, even against stiff competition. He had a very good feeling about the prospects of the 2020 Spartans.

“Our top returning talent would have been our senior class,’’ Shea said. “JJ Valentin and Dom Candalaro would have held it down for our defense. Eric Anderson was poised to have an exceptional year in the goal. Aiden Maxwell and Luke Wilson were prepped to add to their stats at attack while Jordan Ouimette and Greg Puzscz would have been a strong midfield duo. Returning juniors Brandon Cina, James Maloney and Colby Plotts were also poised to have a great year.

“Our senior captains Aiden Maxwell, Eric Anderson, Dom Candalaro, JJ Valentin and Greg Puzscz were all exceptional leaders on and off the field for this team, helping lead the team to the Rizk Division championship in 2019 and putting the work in during the off-season.’’

A number of student athletes were poised to make a strong impression at the varsity level for Sparta.

“Some juniors poised to break out were midfielders Jake Christiano, RJ Duthaler and Riley Maldanado,’’ Shea said. “Along with sophomore middies Sam Esposito and Matt Silvey, a very talented freshman class looked to contribute this year as well.’’’

The Spartans tallied an overall record of 14-6 and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the NJSIAA North Group 2 Sectional Tournament last year before they were defeated by West Essex. Sparta toppled Paramus in the opening round of the Group 2 Sectional Tournament.

“We were looking to defend the Rizk Division championship as well as compete for a Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex County Championship and Group 2 State Championship,’’ Shea said. “The Rizk is a tough Division with a lot of competition. Defeating Randolph again is an essential part of another championship.’’

Although the spring high school sports season did not take place in New Jersey due to the deadly coronavirus, the student athletes and coaches who participate in springtime indoor and outdoor athletics deserve recognition.

Coach Shea wants the contributions of the Class of 2020 to be remembered far into the future at Sparta High School.

“This group of seniors worked so hard for this year,’’ Shea said. “We are so appreciative of their effort and the legacy of this program will remember their work even if they didn’t get to compete on the field this spring.’’

“This group of seniors worked so hard for this year. We are so appreciative of their effort and the legacy of this program will remember their work even if they didn’t get to compete on the field this spring.’’ --Head Coach Pat Shea