Mike Mazzola had a pretty good idea of who to look up to when he first started playing lacrosse in eighth grade.
Mazzol played baseball in the spring his whole life until he got tired of the sport and decided to give lacrosse a shot. It didn’t hurt that one of his neighbors was Billy Conners. Conners, a two-time U.S. Lacrosse All-American and Under Armour All-American defenseman at Malvern Prep, has a résumé that spoke for itself and he made it easy to be looked up to.
“Billy’s my neighbor and right when I started playing was around the time he went to Duke,” Mazzola said. “I just tried to watch what he did.”
What he did was end up winning a national championship with the Blue Devils this spring at Lincoln Financial Field, but as it turns out, Conners’ pupil isn’t doing so poorly. He recently chose to continue his career at Monmouth University over the likes of Marquette, Robert Morris, Holy Cross, Hartford and Division III powers Salisbury and Stevenson. Mazzola became the 11th public Delco verbal for the class of 2014.
“I kind of fell in love with it from the get go,” said Mazzola, a 6-3, 180-pound defenseman entering his senior year at The Haverford School. “Being near the beach was awesome. Getting the chance to play for a new program and play early was a great opportunity. The coaches are really good guys and the communications program is really good. That’s what I want to major in.”
Mazzola attended West Chester Rustin his freshman year before deciding to really focus on lacrosse, which naturally made him look at the Lancaster Avenue powerhouse. He’s been a quick study and unlike many of the players his age, he hasn’t been hardened by playing too much since he was young.
“I started playing in eighth grade, so I kind of have the love and drive that some kids don’t have at this point because they’re burnt out,” said Mazzola, who plays his club ball for the Duke’s Lacrosse Club.
He plans on playing a lot more this spring for a loaded Haverford team that figures to be among the national elite yet again. He didn’t get a chance to play much this year after dislocating his shoulder multiple times, but admitted that watching the Fords bounce back from a slow start to finish with an Inter-Ac Invitational was fun.
“It was tough being hurt, but watching it was definitely awesome,” Mazzola said.
The Fords have a strong defensive 1-2 punch in 2014 LSM Connor Black and standout 2014 defenseman Connor Keating, but Mazzola could push for one of the vacant starting spots. Either way, he figures to garner heavy minutes and continue progressing at the same rate that’s helped him become a Division I recruit in a matter of a few years. There’s also a ton of optimism for how good the 2014 Fords can be.
“I’m really excited,” said Mazzola, who will skip this year’s football season as he will be recuperating from a scheduled August shoulder surgery. “We have a new attack line with (All-Delco) Gavin McBride and Reilly Hupfeldt gone, but we should be good, especially with (2015) Grant Ament. We’ve got some really good young players, plus we’ll be playing a bunch of great teams as usual and I love going against the tougher teams.”
Will those teams enjoy going up against the Fords this spring? Probably not so much.
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