NEWTOWN – Where defenders rarely earn the headlines, they are essential for a team’s success. Joe Scardino, senior co-captain of the Council Rock North boys lacrosse team, would heartily agree.
Inspired to play lacrosse by his older brother, Joe gravitated to the defensive end of the field. “When I first started in sixth grade, I was a goalie. I kind of found my way to defense because I’m a defensive kind of player. When I played football, I played defense. When I played basketball, I was more defensive than a scorer.”
Being a defender ideally suited Joe’s personality. “I like the physicality of it. I don’t mind getting in peoples’ faces. I don’t shy away from contact. I like to be able to stop someone on a one-on-one and be the better person there.”
Joe admits that the toughest part of adapting to the fast paced sport of lacrosse was learning to handle the ‘crosse’. “The toughest part was being able to use both hands. You learn everything righty and then you have to apply everything to your left hand as well. That includes passing and catching.”
Joe’s adjustment was compounded by the fact that he had to master the art of handling a long pole. Where most field players carry a stick approximately 42 inches long, Joe wields a 72-inch weapon. “They’re a lot heavier than the little stick. When you switch, it takes a while to get used to. When you use it as long as I have, it becomes second nature.
Joe feels his pole does more than help ward off enemy attackers. “It’s certainly helpful when you think that the first person who makes contact wins. Since you have the long pole, you can dictate what direction the play is going in. On ground balls, most of the time you’ll be the first person to reach the ball.”
When playing long pole middie, Joe finds another way to utilize his stick. “Normally on faceoffs, you’re just trying to be quicker than the other person. When you’re using the long pole, you’re basically trying to get the ball out and once it’s a ground ball, the long pole has a better chance of getting it. My job is not to win it straight up but to make a ground ball and win it from there.”
With Joe and goalie Phil Huddy providing senior leadership, this year’s Indian team has already bested last season’s 7-11 mark. North is currently 8-6 overall. More importantly, they are getting hot at the right time. Coach Mike Murray’s battlers have won six of their last eight games and three of their last four league contests.
Joe felt the Indians’ 11-8 win over Central Bucks South followed by a 6-2 conquest of Council Rock South proved crucial. “The CB South game started our win streak. The Council Rock South game was important because they are rivals and we like to beat them. It’s kind of two games for us because it’s so big. We not only like to win but to make them lose.”
Presently, North sports a 4-3 SOL National division record and has a legitimate chance of making the district playoffs. Joe feels that, “The postseason is definitely achievable and not only do we want to make it, we actually want to do something with it.”
Joe knows the Indians will have to continue to play total team lacrosse to reach their goal. “We have four games left. If we win them all, we’ll be guaranteed a spot. If we win three, we should be good. They have to determine the spots by next Saturday so we can’t have any rainouts.”
The Rock took a big first step toward the District playoffs when they beat Archbishop Wood 17-6 on May sixth. Jack Early and Jack Jogerst triggered the attack, scoring five goals apiece.
They close out the regular season with games against Neshaminy, North Penn and Archbishop Ryan. The Indians definitely have the incentive to do well in all three matchups.
TOP PHOTO: Council Rock North’s Jack Early (4) battles Jathan Martinez (14) for possession in recent boys lacrosse matchup between the schools. (John Gleeson – 21st-Century Media)