Gateway boys lacrosse developing young roster

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Sunday, April 11, 2021 | 11:01 AM


With 19 seniors and a high level of experience up and down the lineup, the 2019 Gateway boys lacrosse team made history.

With the highest-ever playoff seed (No. 7), the Gators hosted a playoff game for the first time and rolled past Sewickley Academy before falling to No. 2 Hampton in the quarterfinals.

The win over Sewickley Academy was the first in the playoffs in program history.

Gateway hoped for more good things last year, but growing covid concerns caused the PIAA to cancel the 2020 spring season before it could get started.

Now, the Gators are back on the field, and with only two seniors — offensive middie Nathan Codeluppi and defender Patrick Baumann — and more than half of the team — 11 of the 21 on the roster — being sophomores and freshmen, there is a mix of both patience and optimism for what this team can become.

“We are a very young team with a number of freshmen, and our second-year guys (sophomores) didn’t get any playing experience last year, so basically, they’re new also to actually playing the game,” coach Dan Alexander said.

“But there is a lot of talent. Once they get more of that lacrosse IQ established and more experience, we’re definitely going to be a team to be reckoned with.”

The team is buoyed by the captainship of Codeluppi and junior defender Chris Horton.

“Nate has really stepped up with the offense and the team in general. He basically is taking command in practices, helping my offensive coach out and getting the kids motivated,” Alexander said.

“He was that way even before the team selected the captains. Chris is the same way. He makes sure the defense is running as smooth as possible and making sure the whole team is motivated and engaged. The kids really respect both of them and their leadership abilities.”

Codeluppi and Horton were the only two on the current team who got a decent amount of varsity reps in 2019 among the large group of seniors.

“With only 21 players, everyone already had kind of a feel for their positions on the field and where they wanted to be,” Alexander said. “They are all seeing the field varsity-wise. We have our core group, but everyone is getting in there. The offense is getting experience with the defense so everyone is getting to know multiple positions in case they need to fill in elsewhere.”

Alexander said freshman goalie Nicholas Newhouse is hoping to grow and make an impact with his first taste of varsity action.

“He’s new and has never played goalie before, but he wanted to be in that spot as soon as he walked on the field,” Alexander said. “You can tell he’s improving and getting more confident each time we put him in net.”

With postponements and cancellations, Gateway had played just one game through April 8. Gateway suffered a 13-1 loss to North Hills in a nonsection game April 1. Junior attacker Matt Alexander scored the Gators’ lone goal.

“The team played fairly well, but there were things on the film that we needed to go over,” said coach Alexander, who is assisted this year by 2019 Gateway lacrosse graduates Azka Pribadi and Nick Alexander.

“Again, that was just some experience issues. But it was certainly beneficial for the guys to get out there and play against good competition. We had also played a scrimmage against Plum, and we could see an improvement from that scrimmage to the North Hills game.”

Gateway was to host Knoch in nonsection play Friday, visit Section 1-AA foe Quaker Valley on Monday and host nonsection Hampton on Tuesday. All three matchups were to be contested past the deadline for this week’s edition.

The Gators are slated to travel to Greensburg Central Catholic on Thursday for a section contest at 6 p.m. Gateway also will play section matches this spring against Chartiers Valley, Franklin Regional, Seton LaSalle, Sewickley Academy, South Fayette, Trinity and Winchester Thurston.

“We’re hearing things from other coaches and players that a lot of the teams are in the same boat we are with not having a season last year and graduating seniors from the past two years,” coach Alexander said.

“Maybe not as severe as us, but everyone seems to have a decent amount of young players who have never played before trying to play a varsity game. We will learn a lot about these teams and about ourselves, too, as the season progresses.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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