Rebels’ lacrosse has mix of vets, newcomers

BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer

Howell begins the lacrosse season with a couple of things working for the Rebels.

First, the Rebels return a solid nucleus of experience players to build around, and secondly, three of the key players – Kyle Marlborough, Joe Sabatello and Chris Puglisi – were starters on the football team that won the Central Jersey Group IV state championship back in December. A fourth, Rob Malfara, was a letter-winner on that 11-1 squad.

“We are hoping they are able to draw on that experience during the season,” said Rebel coach Derek Reichenbecher.

Last year was a transition season for a Howell team that had made the postseason a habit. Reichenbecher had a young, inexperienced squad that picked up the required varsity experience and is now looking to regain its winning tradition.

Senior midfielder and captain Marlborough is the player who fuels the Rebels attack. A Shore Coaches All-Star pick last year, Marlborough scored 34 goals and had 21 assists to go along with the 145 ground balls scooped up, which are important to ball possession. He is also the team’s top face-off man.

Also back is Eric Craig, a senior attack player who is one of the team’s tricaptains. He had 19 goals and 12 assists in ’07.

Sean Grimes (attack), Troy Bojavannni (midfield), Nick Caporaso (longstick midfield and face-offs) and Sean Ipppolito (midfield) should help make the Howell attack and productive one this spring.

The spot on the attack line with Craig and Grimes will be filled by committee, Reichenbecher noted. Joe Palmisano, Tom Pepe, Kevin Scott (a frosh) and Ryan VanAlstyne are the players who will fill that position. They each have different strengths, which gives Reichenbecher the ability to be more flexible and throw different looks at teams.

Defensively, captain Sabatello and Chris Mirra are the returning starters in the back.

Letter-winners Joe DiAngelo, Kyle Towlen, Puglisi and Malfara will have increased roles in ’08.

“In all, we have a terrific balance between veterans that really gained experience as varsity players last year and a fresh crop of talented newcomers, including three freshmen,” said Reichenbecher.

The impact freshmen are attacker Kevin Scott, midfielders Rob Hart and Ryan Handy and keeper Joey Goncalves. In his coaching tenure at Howell, Reichenbecher has witnessed the sport’s elevation to the point that the gap has closed between best teams and contenders.

“While there are a few new programs this year, I think what we’re really starting to see in the Shore is parity,” he said. “Three or four years ago there was a huge difference between the established teams and the new programs.

“In the six years I’ve been coaching lacrosse at Howell, I’ve seen the level of play improve tremendously,” he added.

Reichenbecher pointed out that in his first years of coaching, most of his players were picking up a lacrosse stick for the very first time. This spring, all but two freshmen have played the sport before at the traveling or recreation level.With that going for them, the Rebels are one of theA North Division’s biggest contenders.