River Dell varsity boys lacrosse team discovers winning formula as the 2022 season winds down


The River Dell varsity boys lacrosse team(4-9, 3-3 NJILL) endured growing pains at the beginning of the 2022 season, dropping their first eight games.

However, the Golden Hawks have righted the ship since April, winning four out of their last five games. The offense has been on fire, tallying 30 goals in the past two games.

River Dell's roster consists of twelve freshmen, eight sophomores, six juniors, and seven seniors. The future sets up brightly for the team.

For first-year head coach Joe Haemmerle a significant injury in the pre-season combined with the team's youth is some of the issues he's dealt with this season.

"We had a pretty good pre-season, I'm just getting to know these guys, and we played some adamant schools," Head Coach Jon Haemmerle explained. "Our goalie was sick in the first game, so that he couldn't play." It was just a comedy of errors, and I asked myself, what the heck did I get myself into."

"We lost John Magliula, the poor guy has been snake bitten and he was one of the fastest guys in the program." "Losing him really hurt and was a major loss."

"Everyone we were playing was putting it out as their senior day." "We played Pequannock and we fought them tooth and nail and it was 7-6 game, but we played really hard." "We've had our ups and downs, right now the program has about 31 kids and about 15 freshmen play on the varsity level."

"We've won three of our last four and we're playing our best lacrosse right now and all you can hope for." "We feel like we are getting better, and the results obviously bear than and we're playing more competitively."

Joe Haemmerle has relied on the upperclassmen, especially the senior class, to guide the team through these rough times. Several seniors have played either on the football or basketball teams, which has resulted in success on the field.

"We have great captains; Will Fletcher leads our team in assists and points and moves him from midfield to attack and taken a little bit of the season to acclimate to that role, but he's playing stronger." "I have Matt Brunner, another team captain, and I was on the basketball team in the winter, and he plays midfield for us." He's very reliable on face-offs and leads our team in ground balls, so he has a short stick leader, and he has done an excellent job on defense.

"Joe Boyle, another football guy, team captain, scored our first goal as a defenseman and one of those catalysts that spur emotions and get everyone excited." "He scored against Mahwah; that was his first career goal and got everyone going." We made one heck of a comeback in that game and came up a little short."

"Mike Crismale is also a captain, a serious guy and going on to play at Kean University next year and we're proud of him and excited that he got the opportunity to play for a fine program here in the state of New Jersey." "Curtis Reese plays on defense, he is a big boy and a vocal leader on the defensive end and terrific ballplayer."

"Cavan Hughes, I have known Cavan forever and he and his brother played in some of my programs over the years." "I love Cavan, you won't find a bigger heart than that guy and more sincere and caring and he's got a heart of gold." "I love my seniors, the whole team and we together and tell each other we appreciate each other and had some really good conversations with one another."

Before taking over as head coach of the River Dell varsity boys lacrosse team, Joe Haemmerle was an assistant coach/defensive coordinator on the varsity lacrosse team at Ramapo High School. For 24 years, Haemmerle was the lacrosse team's head coach at Bergen Catholic High School.

"Professionally I'm a teacher and when I was hired I remember the principal said to me I'm hiring you to teach young men not history and I've always thought about that and try to take that into my coaching life as well," Head Coach Joe Haemmerle noted. "Just having an opportunity to be out on the field and working with kids is an absolute joy to me and I think about how fortunate I am every day."

"We have a tremendous principal and AD at River Dell and I'm thankful for the principal at Bergen Catholic for allowing me to do this job too because I still teach at Bergen Catholic and I love the community over there."

After being hired last summer, Hammerle made it a point to establish a connection with all of the athletic programs, especially with the varsity football program and head coach DJ Nimphius.

"When I was hired in August(2021), the first thing I did was in the last week of July I went over to the football program at six o'clock in the morning, and I spoke with Coach Nimphius, Head Coach Joe Haemmerle described. "The first thing he did was stopped the entire program and allow me to introduce myself to the entire program and thought, boy, what a class act to do."

"To allow me to say hello to these guys and become a part of the community. We are working together with all of the sports here at River Dell to support our guys being coached and playing competitively, raising their skill levels in various ways, and generating excellent results.

"I worked closely with Coach Nimphius pretty much the whole winter with him in the weight room and the whole football team." "It's been great in terms of developing leadership, flexibility, strength and explosiveness among our student-athletes." "We have a tremendous culture where the entire programs involved and going to see that yield results."

"We're just in our first year of doing it with some young guys, committing to improving everybody not just as a lacrosse player but as an athlete." "We're encouraging guys not just to play lacrosse but play football, basketball, and hockey." These football guys are very accustomed to hand-to-hand combat, especially in the trenches, making for excellent guys on defense."

"You slide in the basketball point guards that have great vision, and the wrestler guys can change their levels in the face-off." "All the different sports you have different talents and we're hoping to glean some of those benefits from each of them."

Even when River Dell varsity boys lacrosse team 2022 concludes, there will be no rest for Joe Haemmerle as he will be busy conducting a summer camp.

"I spent the entire fall volunteering a couple of hours every Sunday throughout the fall for our junior program," Joe Haemmerle stated. "We were in clinics every Sunday for the boys then we ran the clinics again in the wintertime and we're running a camp coming up this summer." We want to continue to build that culture of lacrosse kids and develop great confidence in what they're doing with the game.

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