Gateway boys lacrosse team lives up to motto

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Friday, May 24, 2019 | 7:01 PM


“Making History” was established early as the Gateway boys lacrosse team’s motto.

“And they did just that,” first-year coach Dan Alexander said.

Among the Gators’ accomplishments this season en route to a 9-6 record:

• Defeated Greensburg Central Catholic and Indiana for the first time in program history;

• Received the highest seed (No. 7) in program history;

• Hosted a playoff game for the first time;

• Won their first playoff game after three previous postseason appearances;

• Finished undefeated at home for the first time, going 7-0 at Antimarino Stadium.

“The team’s performance was amazing this year,” said Alexander, a varsity assistant for three seasons under John Washington. “They were able to meet every goal we had set for them in the beginning of the year.

“Having a varsity team made up of mostly seniors, they really wanted to leave their mark and play at the top of their game. I truly believe this team has set the bar for future teams to aim for. This group of seniors has been playing together since eighth grade. They have been friends on and off the field for years, so they have an understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. This helped them perform as one unit on the field.”

Of their 22 players, 18 were seniors.

The starting lineup consisted of attackmen Blake Hanisak, Marco Contestabile and Adriazka Pribadi; midfielders Jason Reber, Nevin Matthews, Geno Bellante, Russell Wisniewski, Tyler Stevens and Justin O’Barr; and defenders Nick Alexander, Vincent Merlino and Phil Wise.

Nicolai Mireles was the starting goalie, with Ray Shumaker as the backup.

“I thought we performed really well and played every game at 100 percent at all times,” Hanisak said. “We all fed off of each other, and everyone made each other better throughout the season.

“I feel we could’ve went farther and could have made it to the next round of the playoffs. Through five years of playing together and knowing our strengths and weaknesses, it’s hard to see that it has to come to an end.”

Top reserves included attackman Carmen Hyzy, midfielder Frank Bole, and defensive specialists Christian Fyke, Andy Brandon, Declan Shumaker, Conor Farren and Kadel Fu.

Hanisak, Bellante, Wise and Alexander, the coach’s son, were captains.

The only nonseniors were juniors Brandon, Ray Shumaker and Declan Shumaker, as well as sophomore midfielder Nathan Codeluppi.

Gateway finished third in section play, then beat Sewickley Academy, 11-3, in the first round of the playoffs. Reber scored five goals. Matthews (three), Bellante (two) and Hanisak (one) also scored.

Nicolai and Shumaker shared goaltending duties in the historic victory.

Gateway lost a 17-2 decision to Hampton in the second round.

The team MVPs were Reber and Matthews on offense and Alexander, Merlino and Wise on defense.

“We had a great season,” Nick Alexander said. “I think we really proved that Gateway can compete at any level of lacrosse, especially since the team went 9-6 and we won our first playoff game. Everyone on the team kept competing at a high level.

“This team has put Gateway and Western Pennsylvania on the map for lacrosse. I believe Gateway will be a top contender in future years.”

Reber and Matthews led the Gators in goals with 53 and 52, respectively. Matthews also led in assists with 23.

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