We are back with our second update on everything New Orleans Lacrosse!
The last couple of weeks in Louisiana have been crazy. We have endured flood, tornadoes, and weeks of rain, and a lacrosse season went into overdrive to make up games and get the high school play off picture hashed out. While that was going on ULL and LSU wrapped up the regular season and are getting prepared to play in the LSA d1 and d2 conference tournaments.
The NOLC Men’s club continued to practice in preparation to play a few games against Tallahassee and Baton Rouge mens clubs. The weather can’t stop Louisiana lacrosse however it can cause us to adapt, overcome, and go into warp speed. You might call it a flood of lacrosse?
High School Lacrosse Update
With the regular season wrapped up, the playoff field is set and the first round is already in the books. The second round features many great match ups and could easily see some upsets. This has been one of the best seasons across the board that Louisiana has seen out of high school lacrosse. So many teams have improved and made themselves contenders this year, as well as created a lot of parity throughout the state.
#7 Ocean springs, #10 Cpt. Shreve
#8 Mandeville 13, #9 Catholic BR 9
#1 Jesuit vs #8 Mandeville
#4 St. Thomas More vs St. Paul’s
#3 Brother Martin vs #6 Byrd
#2 Loyola vs #7 Ocean Springs
Along with the end of the regular season comes season district awards. Congratulations to all that earned district Honors.
The 2 Louisiana MCLA teams ULL and LSU have just wrapped up their seasons and they have battled and scraped to earn their wins this season. LSU holds a solid 8-7 record entering the conference tournament at a #3 seed. At the D-2 level ULL holds a nice 10-4 record while going undefeated in conference play and earning a #1 seed with a first round bye.
Prior to the crazy weather these 2 teams clashed in the yearly “State Championship” however I prefer the rival game to be called “The Battle of the Bayou” with LSU setting the Cajuns ablaze 18-9. Despite the loss a few ULL players reached career and program milestones. Congratulations to attackman Tanner Castanga on making 100 career points and being only the 3rd ULL Cajun to do so. Not to be outdone attackman Nick Midboe became the program all time assist leader on the very same pass that set up Castanga for his 100th point. With the LSU Win they move to 6-0 all time against ULL.
New Orleans Lacrosse Club (Mens)
The mens club has been practicing and lining up games to play before they head to the indoors for their annual NOLC Box league. They will be playing Tallahassee and Baton Rouge Mens clubs.
This updates GOTW is a first round playoff match up that saw the Mandeville Skippers hosting the Baton Rouge Catholic Bears.
The game was a slugfest right out of the gate and the two teams would trade scores for the majority of the game. Both goalies played lights out but it was Mandeville’s Sr. goalie Michael Andrepont who was able to come up with a few key saves, as well as some clutch clears, one even went for an assist, to win the goalie battle. BRC fund itself unable to clear the ball for the vast majority of the game, due to excellent rides by the Skippers.
Despite the transition problems the Bears were able to off set that with an impressive performance at the face-off X to keep the game close. Many players stepped up for Mandeville and were able to put enough points on the board as well as shutdown BR Catholic’s offense to put the game just out of reach in the second half. The attack line of Austin Dainelson, Tristan Bellah, and Christian Latino provided 8 goals and 4 assists, While the midfielders Antonio Cacho and Austyn Eckhardt added another 5 goals and 1 assist. The defensive line lead by seniors Fischer Kimbourough and Ryan Rossi, joined by fellow senior Andrew Booth and Sophomore’s Brett Leveille, and John Thompson put the clamps on late in the game to shut down the BRC offense.
Player of the game honors went to Austyn Eckhardt as he stepped up to score 3 goals and deliver his best game when it mattered most. This was a total team effort and win for Mandeville as they got big plays from everyone on the field. This was the third straight trip to the post season and they were able to earn their first playoff win in program history.
Coach Will Callegari had plenty to say about his team after the game. “Phenomenal team effort across the board. Offensively and defensively we played a great game. Catholic is an excellent program, and they battled the entire way. It is extremely difficult to beat any team twice, and they showed that today. I am very proud of our entire team. We really came together and played as a group to get the win.”
Mandeville travels to play top seeded Jesuit next.
Growing The Game
For this edition of growing the game I spoke with Team Louisiana’s new Head Coach Mike Gagliardi. Mike took over the program late in the year in 2015 and has started to make some changes that will allow Team LA to grow as well as begin to grow the sport at the youth levels in south eastern Louisiana. Mike is also the Defensive coordinator and Assistant Head Coach for Mandeville High School lacrosse.
Trey: Tell us about yourself and your lacrosse background.
Mike: My days start early and end late! I am a Vice President with Morgan Stanley in New Orleans/Mandeville, Louisiana. Morgan Stanley, especially the local management team, is very supportive of its employees giving back to the community. So when the opportunity arose for me to get back into coaching lacrosse, I knew I had the support of Morgan Stanley. I am currently the assistant coach and defensive coordinator of the Mandeville High School varsity lacrosse team and co-owner of Team Louisiana Lacrosse.
I grew up in Syracuse, NY and was introduced to the game of lacrosse at an early age but I did not start playing organized lacrosse until I was 13. Lacrosse came easy to me, as a lot of the skills required to play the game are the same as they are with ice hockey, which I started playing not too long after I could walk. I played lacrosse at Jamesville-DeWitt High School in New York my freshman year and then transferred to South Kent Prep School in Connecticut to play lacrosse and ice hockey.
After receiving numerous scholarship offers to play lacrosse in college, I ultimately decided to chase my childhood dream of playing ice hockey in college and enrolled at St. Lawrence University in Northern New York. Once I graduated from college, I started coaching high school lacrosse and ice hockey. I continued coaching both sports until I moved to Louisiana in 2006.
T: What got you involved with Team LA?
M: My partner in Team Louisiana is Austin Speni. He is from New Jersey and we played hockey and lacrosse against each other in prep school and both of us attended St. Lawrence University. We reconnected a few years back when we learned that we were both living in Mandeville. In 2010, Austin started the team when he was the head coach at St. Paul’s High School in Covington. He recently had an opportunity to move to Dallas for work but didn’t want to see Team Louisiana suffer due to his relocation.
We are both passionate about the sport and want nothing more than to see it continue to grow locally in South Louisiana and throughout the whole state. Austin felt that it was crucial to have a local partner running the team. He wanted someone who cares as much about the sport as they do the local community. We are very proud that Team Louisiana is made up of all local coaches and players.
T: What is the vision for the program going forward?
M: Our main goal with Team Louisiana is to give high school players across the state the opportunity to play together in the summer and fall and ultimately put Louisiana Lacrosse on the map. We want to show the rest of the country that we have some great players down here that can compete at a very high level. We hope to prove that this summer when Team Louisiana travels to the Summer Slam in Westchester, PA.
T: How do you feel about Lacrosse in Louisiana as a whole?
M: I honestly like the direction it is moving… I look at what our coaching staff has accomplished at Mandeville High School just this season. We have 60 kids playing on both our varsity and junior varsity teams. Of those 60 kids, more than half of them had never played lacrosse until they picked up a stick in September. Lots of the boys are freshman and sophomores, so it is exciting to see the future of the team. The biggest hurdle locally is a strong youth program.
Youth lacrosse (14 and under) has had a tough time getting off the ground in our area and I am currently working with a number of local coaches to try and change that for the 2017 season. The key for growth in Louisiana is to get sticks in the kids’ hands at an earlier age. We are ready to show everyone that lacrosse is a great alternative to football, baseball and soccer.
T: What is new with Team LA?
M: Other than me… the biggest change is our new logo and colors. The logo was designed by my good friend Vinnie Ricasio at www.theartoflax.com who is an amazing artist. The two of us worked together and I could not be any prouder of the logo we produced.
The kids and parents are going to notice a lot more coaches involved this summer. I have a great group of local coaches which includes a number of former college players. This means more coaching and instruction which ultimately will lead to better stick skills in our players.
T: Why the change in colors from Black and gold to red white and blue?
M: We thought it was time for a change. We want to make a statement this year on the field and I think the new look will accomplish that. Also for anyone that has not been to south Louisiana in the middle of July, black jerseys are not the best choice in the heat.
T: What teams are you looking to field this summer?
M: We are looking to field a varsity team all the way down to U9. Once we have our evaluation day, we will know exactly what players will be where. We have plenty of coaches so we can add teams to accommodate the players.
T: What Tournaments will you be at this summer?
M: We are currently scheduled for the following 5 tournaments:
Texas Trio in Houston, TX – May 28th and 29th
Texas Draw in Dallas, TX – June 4th and 5th
Summer Slam in Westchester, PA – June 18th and 19th
Big Easy Classic in Mandeville, LA – June 25th and 26th
Steele City Showcase in Birmingham, AL – July 9th and July 10th
We intend to return to the Cowboy Cup in Dallas this November. Team Louisiana won this tournament last year and we are looking to repeat again this year. We also hope to add some additional tournaments so that we can continue to compete through the end of the year.
T: Anything else you would like to add?
M: I must thank my wife Mandy for her help and dedication to Team Louisiana. When she is not practicing law at Chaffe McCall in New Orleans, she is happy to field questions from lacrosse moms, organize jersey orders and cheer on the team wherever we travel. For a girl that had never heard of lacrosse before she married me, she is getting up to speed on all the rules and encouraging our children and their friends to play the game. We have two children, Matthew (6) and Madison (4) and both already have their own sticks and a goal in the yard!
Louisiana Lax Original
Another true LLO Tanner Castagna was born and raised in Louisiana. He started playing lacrosse as a freshmen at Archbishop Rummel High School. After graduating in 2013, he went to ULL and has been a contributor to the Ragin’ Cajuns since he arrived on campus and that role has increased every season. He is currently a team captan and starting attack man for the Ragin Cajuns. He is a junior majoring in business management. So I decided to ask him a few questions to try to introduce everyone to the man under the helmet.
Trey: What/who got you involved in lacrosse?
Tanner Castagna: I met Coach Ford through a friend at Rummel. He pretty much convinced me into joining the team.
T: What is your favorite part of the game?
TC: I like the feeling of scoring but my favorite part of the game are goalie saves. Nothing gets you ready for offense like a great save.
T: Who taught you the most about the game?
TC: I would have to say I’ve learned through all my coaches. They all had their own style to the game. Playing a lot of pick up games taught me a lot as well.
T: What is your favorite piece of lacrosse gear ever?
TC: I would have to say the STX k-18 line with the d3o technology.
T: Who is your favorite lacrosse player?
TC: hmmm…. John Grant Jr.
T: What is your favorite lacrosse moment?
TC: Favorite moment was making a btb goal with under 30 seconds to take the lead.
T: Anything else you want to throw in about the game?
TC: All leagues should follow the same rules. I think the rules that are played at the NCAA level are what all high school leagues should use.