Lawrence celebrates nice season

Lawrence boys soccer

By: Jim Green
   The key to any strong program is a family-like atmosphere, and that is exactly what was on display Sunday, as the Lawrence High School boys soccer team held its end-of-season banquet at the RWJ Hamilton Center for Health & Wellness.
   Players and parents from the varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams packed the conference room at the Center, with varsity head coach Keith Fithen serving as master of ceremonies and former LHS star Pat Haggerty the guest of honor. Players received awards and were recognized for their achievements this season, as Fithen made clear how pleased he was with his team despite its 7-11-1 varsity record in 2005.
   "The boys played their best, and they played great," Fithen said. "I was very proud of them. It definitely was a great season in terms of the performance of the players. They did their best as a team."
   The banquet, which was held at the behest of Lawrence athletic director Ken Mason, began with the playing of video taken by photographer Dennis Symons at the Lawrence varsity games this past season. After dinner was served, the awards ceremony began, with varsity seniors Federico Cicchino, Bryan Eveland, Joda Hankins, Danilo Giaquinto and Zack Robert receiving certificates for themselves and medals for their parents, in honor of their commitment and support for the team over the last four years.
   Next up was Haggerty, a great player during his career with the Cardinals — he had 16 goals and eight assists as a senior to lead Lawrence to the Group III semifinals — before going on to become an All-Big East First Team player during four years as a starting center back for Boston College.
   "He was an unbelievable player," Fithen said in his introduction of Haggerty. "He was a stellar player for Boston College. He had a very good taste of what it’s like to be at the top."
   Haggerty used his speech as an opportunity to deliver advice and motivation to the younger Cardinals who are following in his rather large footsteps.
   "I had great times at LHS," he said. "It was a pleasure to play for Coach (Fithen). Any time BC was in town, Coach came and watched me play. He’s really a good guy and a good coach. You guys should listen to what he has to say and appreciate what he has to say, because he has your best interests right here. Also, cherish your friendships. Appreciate your friendships, continue to allow them to develop and keep in touch."
   After describing to the audience the differences between the high school and college games, he delved into his five keys to success in soccer and in life. They included working hard, being a team player, being aware of your weaknesses and capitalizing on your strengths, making the most of opportunities, being a good person, and being confident but not overconfident.
   Freshman coach Mike Underwood, junior varsity coach Brian Rostron and Fithen then acknowledged their respective teams, with each player in attendance receiving a free 1-day pass to the weight room at the Center. The varsity players received certificates and their varsity letters.
   Finally, the season awards, which were voted on by the players, were handed out. The varsity winners included Joey Mitchell as MVP and Defender of the Year, Joda Hankins as Forward of the Year, Andrew Santora as Most Improved Player, Dan Macziewski as Rookie of the Year, Stephen Sikora with the Goal of the Year and Artem Kukushkin with the Funniest Moment of the Year. The pleasant evening ended with a 50/50 and raffle for prizes, including Lawrence High, Adidas and Nike soccer gear, as well as 1-month free passes to the Center’s gym.