Lacrosse coach adheres to Shelton way of competing

Billy Zaccagnini, Jared Sedlock and Reilly Brennan are team captains for coach Matt Read.

Billy Zaccagnini, Jared Sedlock and Reilly Brennan are team captains for coach Matt Read.

Shelton High Athletics / Contributed photo

The yardstick to play Shelton boys’ lacrosse team for coach Matt Read has been handed down from one graduating class to another. Those bequests to new players was interrupted when COVID-19 curtailed the 2020 season.

Team captains Jared Sedlock, Billy Zaccagnini and Reilly Brennan have instilled that standard in this year’s team.

Read, with the program since 2009 and head man since 2011, explained the litmus test.

“When I started at Shelton it was a lot of football players out for the team and physically going after the other team,” Read said. “We’ve gone from that style to finesse. But there is still a lot of physicality in the way we go about playing. We go hard the whole game. We can be effective at what we do.”

Shelton, 3-4 this season, competes in the Southern Connecticut Conference, and in the Class L division in states against some of the best programs around. It is not an easy task.

Read said: “It is hard to play against teams that recruit your kids and then you have to play them. It’s not an ideal situation. But we have Shelton bred kids that will play their hearts out. It is what Shelton is all about.”

Read believes that the work ethic from brothers and cousins, from former teammates, impact his charges.

“Jared Sedlock pound for pound is the best player taking draws I’ve coached at any level ever,” said Read, who coached college lacrosse for three years at Merrimack College. “And remember I coached Tyler Pjatak, who graduated in 2020. He was as tough and talented as they come. Jared plays with that heart as well. You get every ounce of him every game.”

Pjatak is playing at Mercy College. Sedlock is headed to Ithaca College.

“Reilly Brennan, Evan Asary and Jared will rotate in between midfield and attack,” Read said. “Joey Thompson, Gavin Rohlman, Jake Gigliotti, Michael Mourtadh and Ben Hoponick are all contributing. They know their roles and do what is best for the team.”

Read said he found a keeper with Jeff Wojtowicz in goal

“Tim Schiffer started for me as a freshman and graduated in 2017,” Read said. “Jeff is as good. He has great size at 6-foot. He is athletic with a great set of skills. Some guys will block the shot. He is aggressive saver. His reflexes are extremely sound.”

With Billy Zaccagnini, Connor McGuire and Joe Schafenberg, all seniors, Read loves his experience on defense. All came up as freshmen and played varsity, junior varsity or both.

Read said: “Again, these guys are focused. They were taught by guys like Jack Carr (2019 at UMass) and Jake Roberts (2019 at Tampa). They learned to play each game like it is your last.”

Thompson, C.J. Turco, Charlie DiLieto, Brennan and Sedlock rotate in on attack.

Tyler Heltzel, Robbie DelBuono, Enrico Barone and Chris Taylor are learning the game.

Jack DiLieto plays long stick midfield.

“Jack is a ground ball monster,” Read said of the freshman. “He’s not the biggest or strongest guy. But he saved the Guilford game (7-6 win) with a groundball. He got the ball. I called timeout. It gave us possession and we took it down to last couple minutes.”

With six players missing, four because of contract tracing, Read was short rostered for the first week of the season.

“We have some talented and hard-working kids but only have 22 combined for varsity and jayvee,” he said. “That first game (a 10-1 loss to North Haven) we didn’t have the depth we needed. If we had a full team, it would have been a coin flip 8-6 game one way or another.”

Shelton bounced back to stun Notre Dame 8-7 in overtime.

“That game may be the most satisfying win I’ve had as a coach,” Read said. “We were missing those kids and still beat them. It was a total team win. Everyone played to their highest ability.”

Alumni helping the team extends to the coaching staff.

“Jim Castelot and Connor Greene, former captains, are with us as volunteer coaches,” Read said. “Connor was at Eastern. With the COVID thing he transferred to Sacred Heart. He’s going to try out for their team next year. I asked him to come coach with us.

“Chris Buzi been with me six years. He is officially our JV coach this season. Chris is defensive minded and understands game. He came from Masuk and Western New England.”

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354