Weekly Feature

2012-04-04 / Sports

Buffalo Lacrosse Academy alumni succeeding in college

Of all high school sports, boys lacrosse may have the most alumni playing in college.

The Buffalo Lacrosse Academy has 60 members playing at the Division I, II and III levels. Many others play at the club level.

“Hard work and passion have driven many Western New Yorkers to play college lacrosse,” said Michael Wright, co-founder of the Buffalo Lacrosse Academy.

Three years ago, the BLA and South Buffalo Lacrosse merged into the area’s established elite program to help college coaches recruit high school players. These teams attend some of the nation’s top college recruiting tournaments, including its own Lake Erie Showcase and Festival, which attracts over 20 college coaches to WNY.

Players from the Bee coverage from Buffalo Lacrosse Academy who are playing college lacrosse are: Amherst’s Garrett Augustyn (Binghamton), Clifton Jackson (Brockport), Brian Lawson (LeMoyne) and Scott Thielman (Keuka); Clarence’s Jordan Collins-Hartwig (RIT), Nicholas Gay (Oswego) and David DeCirce (Wagner); Iroquois’ Michael Albini (Genesse Community College), Randy Gyergyek (Keuka), Matt Missel (Lake Erie) and Andrew Wagner (Oswego); Lancaster’s Zach Maleski (Brockport); St. Joe’s Brendan Murphy (Canisius); Orchard Park’s Brendan Kane (Hilbert); West Seneca East’s Greg Bensman (Mercyhurst), Ethan Murphy (UMBC) and Tyler Strassburg (Medaille); Williamsville East’s Rashaun Durden, Michael Faltisco and Derek Frost (Potsdam), Michael Joseph (St. John Fisher), Josh Roetzer, Brad Teal and Kyle Wistner (Oswego) and Saxon Weil (Genesee Community College); and Williamsville North’s Pat Stasio (Lenoir-Rhyne) and Luke Wolfe (RIT).

The list is impressive because there are far fewer college lacrosse programs than more recognized sports like soccer, football and baseball.

For example, there are more than 110 Division I-A football programs with massive rosters. In comparison, there are less than 65 Division I men’s lacrosse teams, often with less than 40 players on each roster.

Sixty of the Western New York players who play in college competed for Buffalo Lacrosse Academy. Most of them plan to play in the summer for the Buffalo Cup Championship.

Wright said what has helped each player is the “network effect”, meaning kids from competing towns and high schools came together to gain confidence in their own ability and network with each other in the college decision process. He said many players from the program pick the same school as another alumuns.

An example is Luke Wolfe transferring from Monroe Community College to RIT because his BLA teammate, senior Jordan Collins-Hartwig, attends the school.

As of press time, the following high school players from the Bee coverage area have committed to playing lacrosse in college: Nate Gowen (Amherst, Rutgers), Jeff Wilson (Williamsville East, Canisius) and Austin Goltz (Orchard Park, Providence).

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