Pontrello is the complete package

The St. Augustine midfielder put up 50 goals and 37 assists playing a brutal schedule.

Posted: June 16, 2012

On July 11, Steve Pontrello will be off to Finland for the men's lacrosse under-19 world championships. He's one of just four high school players on the U.S. U-19 national team.

On Thursday, he was traveling to C.W. Post in New York for a minicamp with the team.

Pontrello's senior season with St. Augustine segued directly into his time with the national team, which will segue right into training for his freshman season at North Carolina.

Some kids can't wait to talk about how hard they work for a sport, how dedicated they are to it. For others, such as Pontrello, the dedication is so obvious that, when asked, they find themselves on the other end of the spectrum.

It's a tough assertion to make, but Pontrello insists: There is, in fact, more to Steve Pontrello than just lacrosse.

"I love the sport. I always work hard for it," said Pontrello, The Inquirer's South Jersey Player of the Year in boys' lacrosse. "But trust me, I do like to have some balance. It's not all lacrosse, 24-7."

On the field, Pontrello kept that fact well-hidden this season.

The 5-foot-9 midfielder has long been known as one of the most athletic, shiftiest high school midfielders in the country. But more impressive this season was how he markedly developed other aspects of his game to complement his lethal scoring ability.

"I think this year, more so than any other, Steve really proved what he was capable of," Hermits coach J.C. Valore said. "We had a very difficult schedule, an enjoyable schedule for the team, but Steve had his best year in terms of total output.

"And the way in which he got his points, 37 of them through assists, was huge for our team. And that's owed to all the work and all the time he puts in."

Valore said he talked with Pontrello before this season about rounding out his game, building his already-stellar lacrosse IQ, and becoming a more complete player. It was particularly important, Valore said, considering the Hermits had broken off from the Cape-Atlantic League before this season in favor of a grueling independent schedule.

"This new regular-season schedule was great for our program," Pontrello said. "It forced us to be more focused and work harder. It makes you better.

"I tried to concentrate on things like keeping my head up when I dodge, making sure there's a lot of talk on offense, and just listening to my coaches. You have to develop a good feel for when to feed and when to go.

"And I have to give a lot of credit to my coaching staff. J.C. Valore did a great job of getting me to where I'm at now."

Pontrello finished this season with 50 goals and 37 assists. He led the Hermits to a 13-6 record against some of the region's top teams. His 296 career points are a St. Augustine record - which is saying something, considering the Hermits have been churning out some of the state's top high school players since they started playing varsity lacrosse in 2003.

"We have had some incredible players," Valore said. "And they all had their assets, whether it was size, strength, speed, or skill. But Steve had an amazing combination of all of that. And his ability to really not have a weak hand was a true asset.

"On top of that, his knowledge of the game has been at a very high level since he stepped in as a freshman. So I think he ended up being the most well-refined player we've had."

Contact Chris Melchiorre

at rallysports@phillynews.com.

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