Havelock High’s Anthony LaLima said he was interested in playing a contact sport. A couple of friends suggested lacrosse.
Thanks to that suggestion, as well as LaLima’s hard work, the senior signed his letter to play college lacrosse at St. Andrews University on Friday at Havelock High.
“I just like contact sports,” LaLima said. “I had played football from the time I was 8 until my junior year, and I just didn’t want to play anymore. My friends got me into lacrosse, and I just loved it from the time I started playing it.”
Playing defense and in the midfield, LaLima scored four goals during Havelock High’s first-ever lacrosse season.
“It was cool to be a leader and help develop the sport in the high school, and show (Principal) Mr. (Jeff) Murphy that it’s worth being a varsity sport.”
After losing their first five matches, the Rams got on a winning streak and finished the season 9-8, falling to Jacksonville 16-15 in the third round of the state playoffs.
“We started off slow, but we just started working and clicking as a team and getting used to each other,” he said.
LaLima became one of Havelock’s faceoff specialists during the season, taking 187 of the team’s 297 faceoffs. He won 112 or just about 60 percent.
“You just have to keep fighting,” he said of his faceoff success. “It’s a battle. You have to get low and don’t give up.”
LaLima didn’t pinpoint one game or one match that would stand out to him. Instead, he said he enjoy his entire experience playing lacrosse at Havelock High, especially with friends Richard Fischer and Jason Hollister, who last month signed to play lacrosse at Belmont Abbey.
“I just enjoyed working with my friends, working with Jason and Richard on the field,” LaLima said. “Having that good chemistry with my teammates was cool to have.
“It’s going to be different not playing with them. I’m going to miss it. It’s fun playing with kids you know.”
St. Andrews, an NCAA Division II school for lacrosse, went 7-8 this past season with Joe Wilson in his first year as head coach. The Knights went 3-1 in the Southeast Conference and lost 12-11 to Kennesaw St. University in the conference tournament semifinals.
“Their program’s real good and their coaches, their personalities, they seem nice,” LaLima said. “I think it will be good to work with them and fun to work with them.”
St. Andrews, located in Laurinburg near the South Carolina border, is about 3 1/2 hours from Havelock, which LaLima said was a big factor in picking the college.
“It’s just closer to home,” he said. “I was contacted by two schools in New York, but this is closer to home, so that’s a big plus.”
LaLima said he expected to play midfield for the Knights and he also expected to compete for significant playing time on the field.
“They said I could come up there and probably start my freshman year, have a good season, and I could go up there and play all four years I’m there,” he said.
LaLima said he was uncertain on his collegiate major but that he was looking at business, pre-law or possibly even sports medicine.
“I’m happy to be going to St. Andrews,” he said.