WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – First-year Monmouth University men’s lacrosse head coach Brian Fisher announced the incoming defensemen student-athletes, who will attend Monmouth and compete for the Hawks in 2014. Fisher and assistant coach Andrew Geison have received commitments from Ryan Atkinson (Sherwood Forest, Md./Indian Creek Upper School), Dylan Curry (Wilmette, Ill./New Trier), Andrew Grajewski (Collegeville, Pa./La Salle College High School), Brian Mangion (Basking Ridge, N.J./Ridge), Ryan Stevens (New Vernon, N.J./Madison), and brothers Austin and Reed Zak (Oakland, N.J./Indian Hills).
“Announcing our first ever group of student-athletes for a new program is one of those milestones along the way as we prepare for our first year in the fall of 2013” stated Fisher. “This will be the first lacrosse class that the Monmouth community will get to meet and I could not be more pleased with the character of these young men and the athletic ability they will bring to Monmouth.”
“As we continue to add players and build our first roster, I am pleased to announce our defensive core that will arrive on campus in September,” added Fisher. “We have a number of captains and multi-sport athletes in this group that will provide leadership and give us a strong foundation on the defensive end of the field.”
A varsity letterwinner in both lacrosse and soccer, Atkinson is a two-time team captain for the Eagles in lacrosse, who has registered a 112 ground balls and three goals in three seasons. A 2012 MIAA All-Conference selection, Atkinson also earned Indian Creek’s Unsung Hero Award as a junior. A Rising Senior Top 205 All-Star in 2012, he was also named an East Coast Lacrosse Camp All-Star as well, and was a member of the Gait Cup Session II Championship team. Also during his junior year, Atkinson was named the soccer team’s Defensive MVP.
“Ryan comes from a young program in Indian Creek and has a great work ethic, good stick and excellent defensive instincts. He is another multiple sport athlete who was named the MVP of his soccer team in addition to being named captain of his lacrosse team the past two years.”
A member of two Central Suburban League lacrosse championship teams at New Trier High School, Curry has been named a 2013 team captain for the Trevians. Curry, who was a 2012 first team all-conference performer, was named the New Trier Defensive MVP and has recorded 63 ground balls and a goal in his two seasons of varsity. Curry, a two-time CSL JV wrestling champion at 170-pounds and a freshman CSL wrestling champion, was a Notre Dame Team Camp All-Star participant and a Great Lakes All-Star participant.
“Dylan comes from one of better programs in the Midwest at New Trier. He is a diligent and versatile defender who can play close or at the LSM position. He is a hard-nosed competitor and another one of those two sport athletes (wrestler) with a great work ethic.”
A second team All-Philadelphia Catholic League performer in lacrosse last season, Grajewski is a two-sport standout at La Salle College High School. In his first three seasons with the Explorers, Grajewski helped lead the squad to a 51-9 record, while La Salle won the league championship in 2009 and 2011 and finished as the runner-up in 2010. The Explorers, who are ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation in preseason 2013, lost in the state title game in 2011. Also an ice hockey player, Grajewski’s team won the Flyers Cup three straight years and won the state championship last season, where he scored two goals. Grajewski also plays club lacrosse for Headstrong.
“Andrew is one of our multi-sport athletes who hails from a great program in the Philadelphia area,” added Fisher. “Andrew is an athletic defender with size and a very good lacrosse IQ. He moves well, excels getting the ball off the ground and is also a standout hockey player for the Crusaders.”
Mangion is a three-year letterwinner at Ridge High School in New Jersey, where the Red Devils won the 2012 Group III State Championship, and advanced to the 2011 Group III State title game. In 2012, with a record of 17-4, Ridge was a Somerset County finalist and advanced to the Group IV State Semifinals. Also, a football player for two seasons at Ridge, Mangion was the freshman football defensive MVP, and posted 22 ground balls and an assist in 2012 in lacrosse.
“Brian is one of those New Jersey guys who from our first meeting you could tell loved everything about Monmouth,” noted Fisher. “He is a tough, athletic and strong defender who plays with an unmatched passion every time he is on the field.”
Stevens, who has earned two varsity letters in both lacrosse and soccer so far at Madison High School, is a two-year starter on defense for the Dodgers and was named a 2013 team captain. Following a junior year where he notched 46 ground balls, Stevens attended the Top 205 Champ Camp Tristate National.
“Ryan is another athletic defender who has solid fundamentals and an understanding of how to play the game. He is a also a vocal leader and captain this spring on the lacrosse field and was the last line of defense as a goalkeeper on his soccer team.”
Austin Zak has started each of his 52 games played of his high school lacrosse career so far at Indian Hills High School, while also earning three varsity letters as a member of the basketball team. Austin, who was selected for the Garden State Challenge in 2011, has registered 113 ground balls, 11 assists and three goals in his first three years on the lacrosse squad.
“Austin, like his brother Reed, played basketball and lacrosse for Indian Hills. Austin is an athletic and rangy defender with good size. He has a very good stick, is solid off the ball, excellent at playing passing lanes, anticipating and picking off passes.”
Reed Zak, Austin’s twin brother, also a three-year starter at Indian Hills, has recorded 243 ground balls, 75 assists and 18 goals in his first three seasons with the Braves, including a school-record 54 assists as a sophomore. As a second-year player, Reed tallied 87 ground balls, 54 assists and 15 goals to lead Bergen County in assists. As a junior, Reed was named team captain and was tabbed First Team All-Big North, Second Team All-Suburban Boys Lacrosse and third team all-county after notching 78 ground balls, 13 assists and two goals.
“Reed is a dynamic and athletic Long Stick Midfielder who comes to Monmouth along with his brother Austin from Indian Hills High school. He has a good stick and excellent vision as a LSM with a knack for making plays between the lines.”
Monmouth, which will start Division I men’s lacrosse action in 2014, is a private, mid-sized, coeducational, comprehensive University founded in 1933. It serves residential and commuter students in eight schools and is less than a mile from the Atlantic Ocean on the Jersey Shore in West Long Branch, New Jersey. The 156-acre campus features 54 buildings, including historic landmarks and state-of-the-art facilities.
On December 14, 2013, Monmouth University announced its acceptance of the invitation of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) to join the conference, effective July 1, 2013. Monmouth, which fields 21 NCAA Division I athletic teams, will begin competition in the MAAC during the 2013-14 academic year.
Stay tuned to GoMUHawks.com as the Men’s Lacrosse program will introduce the remaining members of the incoming class, by position, over the coming weeks.
This group of defenders joins goalkeepers Brian Bedell (Manlius, N.Y./Fayetteville-Manlius) and Nick Hreshko (Warrington, Pa./La Salle College High School) as members of Monmouth’s first Men’s Lacrosse roster.