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Council Rock North athletes get set to jump to the next level

Fourteen athletes committed to collegiate sports Thursday at Council Rock North, Pictured in the front row, from left, Julianne Mangano, Sabrina Crane, Anna Lehman, Katie Lustig, Claire Jarema and Kayla Robinson. Second row: Isabella Zuzulo, Taylor Amazeen, Cameron Allen, Aidan Burke, Kevin Brandbergh and Anthony Caruso. Missing: Pat Bartlett and Joe Preciado.           (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)

NEWTOWN – While 14 Council Rock North student-athletes today announced their commitment to take their games to the next level, some made the decision as to exactly where that might be quite a while ago.

Field hockey midfielder Julianne Mangano had expressed interest in attending either Penn or Lafayette but Ivy League rival Cornell came calling last March so she decided to go with the Big Red.

“Cornell was the first school that offered and I knew I wanted to go there right away,”

With an older sister that went to Cornell, Mangano had a previous attachment to the school.

“I’ve been visiting the campus since second grade,” said Mangano. “For me, I always pictured that as the college I would go to.”

A quick glance at her stats – 46 points including 32 assists, as a junior – and it looks like the Big Red is getting a pretty solid midfielder in Mangano, a two-time Suburban One League (SOL) National Conference first team selection and two-time Pennsylvania High School Field Hockey Coaches Association second team all-state pick.

Equally, Mangano is pretty stoked about her college choice.

“I really love the people and the coaches; the players were really nice,” said Julianne.

“They’re really accommodating for balancing your schoolwork and the sport, whereas a lot of other schools aren’t.”

CR North girls soccer player Kayla Robinson also decided early, making a verbal commitment to Charleston Southern way back in November 2015.

Robinson had scholarship offers from Atlantic 10 rival St. Joseph’s and had expressed interest in James Madison and Marist. In the end, the Holy City seemed to beckon her name.

“I fell in love with the city,” said Robinson. “I feel like it’s a beautiful place for me to grow as a person and as a soccer player.

“It’s a great fit for me.”

Kayla expressed gratitude to former Lady Indians coach Wendell Beres, who moved her from center-back to forward as a sophomore. The move paid great dividends to both player and coach as Robinson put 52 balls in the back of the net during her time at the Rock.

She thinks she can make an impact on the Buccaneers’ offense at CSU.

“I’m really excited,” she said. “I feel like I definitely have the potential to be a great forward in college.”

Anthony Caruso is another soccer player for Rock North who is moving on, though his job both in high school and at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), where he’ll play collegiately, is to keep the ball out of the net.

While Caruso is encouraged by the fact that the Highlanders are graduating three senior goalkeepers, he’ll have to battle current freshman Victor Pujades, a 6-foot, 160-pound netminder from Spain who, last fall, broke the NJIT record for shutouts with seven.

As a high school senior, Caruso notched nine shutouts of his own and a 0.89 goals-against average, helping the Indians to their first state playoff berth in five seasons.

Anthony is quite familiar with waiting his turn to play, however. After seeing some time in net as a sophomore, he had to sit as a junior with Billy Storm in the net for North.

“Freshman year is going to be a building year for me – getting into the new workout schedules,” he said. “I think that’s going to be a good year for me and I think sophomore year I can start competing for a spot.”

Catcher Taylor Amazeen had the opposite experience playing high school softball; she suited up right away behind the plate for the Lady Indians. She says that helped her grow into the player she is today, one that’s headed to Boston University.

“I have learned so much from the older kids here,” said Amazeen. “I always played with kids my own age on my travel teams. Coming into high school, I was this young freshman and all these seniors were going to these great schools.

“They were so talented that I learned so much from them – not so much learning how to be a better player but more about how to be a better person and a better teammate.”

While Amazeen has been a steady force behind the plate for pitchers Hannah Mumber (Class of 2015), Elyse McMenamin, Amanda Camp (2016) and Jenna Khantzian, she and her cohorts have had to endure changes at the top that have seen three coaches in three seasons.

Still, the Rock North ladies managed to win 16 games and make it into the second round of districts last spring. A Second Team All-SOL selection as a junior, Amazeen is hoping to lead the team to states before she heads off to Bean Town.

Another Lady Indian with plans to play collegiate softball is centerfielder Sabrina Crane, who is taking her skills to Bryant University, in Rhode Island. Crane also expressed interest in playing for Iona, St. Joe’s and Bucknell but one visit to the campus in Smithfield changed all that.

“I just fell in love with the campus and all the coaches and players were amazing,” said Crane. “I couldn’t see myself playing anywhere else.”

The Bryant Bulldogs had a rough start last year but bounced back to finish 9-7 in the Northeast Conference (NEC). The team is led by 2014 NEC Coach of the Year Shayne Lotito, who guided Bryant to a 32-22 record an NEC regular season and NEC Tournament championship three years ago.

With Crane, a first team All-SOL National and second team All-Pennsylvania selection in 2016, the Bulldogs could reach those heights again.

Sabrina says she’s grown a lot at North.

“I’ve learned something from each of the seniors that have graduated,” said Crane. “Each of them taught me something new about playing the game. Council Rock softball is an awesome program – we’re a really tight-knit team.”

“Last year was definitely the most fun I’ve ever had playing softball. We really came together as a team.

The other athletes at Rock North moving on to the next level include Pat Bartlett (Georgia State football), Aidan Burke (Mercyhurst/Wrestling), Joe Preciado (Quinnipiac/Baseball), Claire Jarema (Bryant/Lacrosse), Anna Lehman (Lehigh/Lacrosse), Kevin Brandbergh (Fairfield/Swimming), Katherine Lustig (Duke/Rowing), Isabella Zuzulo (Penn State/Fencing) and Cameron Allen (Yale/Fencing).

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