August 3, 2022

Gaining Confidence in First Season for Williams Men’s Lax, Former PDS Standout Caputo Emerged as Scoring Threat

HIGH CAL: Cal Caputo, right, heads to goal this spring for the Williams College men’s lacrosse team. Former Princeton Day School star attacker Caputo tallied 40 points on 36 goals and four assists in his debut campaign for the Ephs. (Photo provided courtesy of Williams College Athletics)

By Bill Alden

For Cal Caputo, making his debut for the Williams College men’s lacrosse team in early March proved to be worth the wait.

After his senior season for the Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse team in 2020 was canceled due the pandemic and he was at home for his freshman spring semester at Williams studying remotely, Caputo didn’t wait to make an impact as he hit the field against Trinity College on March 5 for his first taste of college game action.

The 5’8, 150-pound sophomore attacker tallied two goals in the first half and ended up with a hat trick as Williams prevailed 9-5.

“It was awesome, I was really nervous,” said Caputo. “It had been two years since I had played a game, it really meant something for me. I was shaking. I think I had to get hit once and settle in and see one go in. I got a few that game which was good. At the end of the day, you can never really complain about a hat trick, but it is one of those games where I could have had another two or three goals.”

Caputo’s performance in the opener proved to be a harbinger of things to come this spring as he ended up tallying 40 points on a team-high 36 goals and four assists.

“I think the speed and physicality stand out to anyone, but I also think the level of how players are scouted and how teams prepare,” said Caputo, reflecting on the transition to college lacrosse.

“In high school, I feel like I could score a million goals with Coby (former PDS teammate and current Christopher Newport star Coby Auslander) dodging and someone sliding off and there being no two slides. But college teams figure out pretty quickly what you are good at on offense. They spend all week preparing on how to shut you down and how to take away your strengths. After that first game, it was pretty obvious that I was a catch and shoot guy in the crease and you have to have a two slide ready to go. There aren’t any easy goals at the college level.”

Displaying his strength, Caputo scored four goals in a 19-10 win over Colby College on March 21 and then tallied four goals again five days later in a 12-7 victory over Connecticut College.

“I came in with the impression that Williams was a powerhouse in the conference,” said Caputo. “But I learned pretty quickly that everyone playing New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) ball is good. There is no easy conference game. Any time you put up numbers against a team in conference, it is huge for the confidence and team morale in general. Those were great to have, and they were both at home, so it always means a little more when parents and friends are there.”

As the season went on, Caputo kept learning and developing.

“I was getting more confident with the ball, getting strong is something I have put a lot of time into,” said Caputo. “Being confident as an assist-maker, not just an off-ball game, is important for me. It is also not being afraid to test my range. I started shooting from a little deeper. I didn’t have a great shooting percentage this year but at the end of the day, I needed to let the ball fly a little more. I am more confident doing everything and more confident in my role on the team. My game definitely grew towards the end of the year; I was less predictable.”

Displaying that growth, Caputo tallied 10 goals and two assists in the final three games of the season, including a five-goal outburst in a 17-13 win over Wesleyan on April 24.

“It is a blend of confidence from solid individual stats where I thought I started playing my best ball at the end of the season,” said Caputo, reflecting on his late surge. “I didn’t feel like the new guy on the block anymore; I was a freshman on the team lacrosse-wise at the beginning. By the end of the year, it goes to show the confidence I gained. It is good that I got hot, I would have liked the games to mean a little more. It is frustrating that it didn’t go the way we wanted as a team.”

With Williams ending the 2022 campaign at 7-9 overall and 5-5 NESCAC, Caputo and his teammates rued what might have been.

“We all know we could have done better,” said Caputo. “We have a ton of talent. It was a bunch of little things that added up this year. We would have liked to keep our season going. Losing a few games at the end adds fuel to the fire for the offseason. It isn’t the worst thing in the world.”

Over the summer, Caputo has been undergoing some rigorous offseason work, concentrating on getting stronger and bigger along with honing his stick skills. 

“I am looking to put on some weight and get a little stronger that will translate big time to shooting and dodging,” said Caputo, who has been doing workouts with former Lawrenceville star Drew Friedman and PDS alum Gibson Linnehan, along with recent Princeton High grad and incoming Williams freshman Will Doran.

“I have put on 10 pounds, which I definitely happy with. It is a lot of protein shakes and a lot of lifting. Drew is at Yale and Gibson is going to Brown this upcoming year and I am doing a lot of dodging work with them. I am also shooting with Will.”

Looking ahead, Caputo believes the offseason fire will result in a big 2023 campaign for Williams.

“We couldn’t be more motivated, you ask around the locker room and we didn’t lose confidence,” said Caputo.

“We know have what it takes. When we put it together, we beat a really good Wesleyan team by four goals on senior day. We beat RPI which was the only team to beat RIT (the two-time NCAA Division III national champions). They were a tournament team as well. We had some quality wins, we just felt like we didn’t consistently put together four good quarters. We are still as confident as we were coming into last year, but we just know that nothing is handed to us. We were good in the past but that doesn’t mean anything now. We just have to be hungry to earn it this year.”