Giant step for East Meadow


All things considered, while the team finished at .500, the East Meadow boys’ lacrosse team had a pretty good season.

The Jets’ coach, Joe Cataldo, was in his first varsity season with the program. In just one season, he took a team that went 1-14 in 2023 to 8-8 overall and 6-6 in Conference A this spring, without having seniors spread out all over the field.

“It was definitely a positive season, we took a step in the right direction, won a couple more games than last year,” he said. “They understood what I was asking as a new coach this year.”

Culture was a big emphasis in Cataldo’s freshman season at the helm, as well as locking down core basics and skills to make sure everyone was on the same page.

“I think the guys definitely bought into the culture this year, understanding the responsibility of [going] all in, giving maximum effort [and] doing the right thing,” Cataldo said. “Helping these guys understand a little more of the game and how it’s played and the speed that it’s played at. Going back to the concepts of moving the ball, being in the right places, getting yourself available, moving without the ball, constantly being a target for your teammates to look for and not just standing around and watching other guys.”

Cataldo recognizes that he had a very young squad to work with: sophomore defender Ben Barbara, juniors Bryan Tauber and Jack Caracciola, and sophomore Thomas Primrose on the attack team. Similar story with defense: juniors Ryan Michel and Shaun Reilly were the anchors before anything reached the goalie. Sophomore Steven Ricotta was one of the main faceoff guys. Junior Vincent Ronzo scored 10 goals. The common thread here: a lot of underclassmen got their fair share of minutes.

“Next year is a massive year for us,” Cataldo said. “Even with that young team, I feel like this season gave them a sense of pride and confidence moving forward like ‘wow, even thoguth we were a younger squad, we still went .500’ and it was like hope that next year and years to come we could be battling with some of these top teams.”

Cataldo said Tauber had a monster year for the Jets, with his 43 goals and 9 assists. Caracciola led the Jets with 33 assists and added 18 goals. Primrose had 25 goals.

Cataldo also highlighted senior Marchello Romano’s work, evidenced by 26 assists and 7 goals, going to show how much of a facilitator from the midfield position. “[Romano] could do it all, groundball machine and assisting,” he explained.

The highlight of it all, was seeing the growth and progress.

“ I felt like the morale was kind of down [when I started]… so I just feel like the highlights were just them buying into the program overall and showing that they can be a team to be looked at in this conference,” Cataldo said. “The fact that we can play with these teams, we can put numbers against these teams, and we can compete. It’s not just a roll-over, not-compete team. We do belong here, we are a competitive team in this conference.”