DeLillo makes noise on big stage
Salisbury sophomore attackman Jake DeLillo was trapped near the end line as two defenders bared down on him midway through the fourth quarter.
He looked up for a second, assessed the situation, and proceeded to roll the ball through one of the defenders legs and by the second one. Bursting past the frozen defenders, DeLillo had a clear angle on the ball, which had rolled into an open gap near the plane of the goal. But he muffed the groundball pick-up, losing possession.
Not a big deal, right? After all, this kind of frontal-lobe explosion of creativity probably took place in a fall ball league — with little to nothing on the line and little to no witnesses present.
It was the Division III NCAA lacrosse championship against SUNY-Cortland at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts and 24,317 fans — only slightly more than the Salisbury’s average attendance of 829 people — were there to watch every move.
Oh, yeah, it was also DeLillo’s first-ever attempt at the move in a live game situation.
“I thought, ‘why not?’” said DeLillo, who is a 2006 Yorktown High School graduate. “I didn’t know where else to go. It was fun.”
The play occurred in the same end zone that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has evaded countless sacks, and then proceeded to heave improbable bombs to a streaking Randy Moss.
In both DeLillo’s and Brady’s cases, the crowd’s reaction was similar: Awe followed by raucous cheers.
Despite it not climaxing with a goal, the spontaneity of the move got one of the loudest crowd reactions during Salisbury’s 19-13 dismantling of Cortland.
“The defender came running at me and I just put it through his legs,” the 5-foot-6, 170 pound attackman said. “I heard the crowd and got a little nervous and I missed the ground ball, but everyone was talking about in the locker room.”
DeLillo, making his way through the tunnel toward the locker room after a victory lap celebration, joked with his teammates that he was trying to get on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays.
Strangely enough, it was actually Salisbury coach Jim Berkman who tipped him off to the move.
For an up-tempo, offensive minded Salisbury lacrosse squad that averaged 17 goals a game this season, the coach’s innovative thinking should come as no surprise.
Salisbury was a program that DeLillo had wanted to be apart of since he was a young kid. Mike D’Andria, his neighbor, and former Yorktown JV coach Brian Smith both starred for the Seagulls in the 90s. They spoke of the lore that surrounded the Maryland-based lax Mecca, which has won five of the past six national titles and eight overall.
“I remember watching them [Salisbury] on TV and I was like, ‘that’s the place I want to go to,’” said DeLillo, who finished the 2008 season with 32 goals and 12 assists.
However, after his SAT scores were incorrectly graded in 2006, which resulted in a firestorm of controversy, he was forced to attend New York Institute of Technology for freshman year.
After totaling 29 points for NYIT last season, DeLillo finally transferred to his dream school.
What followed — playing in front of record crowds and hoisting a national championship — is what dreams are made of.
“It is a feeling I’ll never forget,” he said.
Best friends battle it out
DeLillo faced former Yorktown teammate Tim Kurpis as the Seagulls defeated Gettysburg, 11-10 (2OT), in the semifinals on May 18.
“He’s [Kurpis] my best friend,” DeLillo said. “It was crazy. It was great seeing him and he actually started and we played alongside each other, which was fun.”
Kurpis, a starting defenseman and 2006 Yorktown graduate, played a big role on a formidable Gettysburg squad that finished the season with a 17-3 record. Gettysburg’s Ben Surfin, a Mahopac graduate, also played a gigantic role this year, scoring 34 goals and dishing out 15 assists.
DeLillo got the best of the match-up against Kurpis, scoring two goals.
But there were no hard feelings after the game.
“He wished me the best of luck, just like I would have done if I had lost,” DeLillo said.
Posted by: Isaac Cass