May 17, 2023

With Post-Grad Star Demato Triggering Attack, Hun Boys’ Lacrosse Clicking Down the Stretch

ON THE RISE: Hun School boys’ lacrosse player Ryan Demato leaps to fire a shot in a game earlier this spring. Last Saturday, Demato scored four goals to help Hun defeat Lenape High 13-1 and post its fifth straight win. The Raiders, who improved to 9-4 with the victory, will be continuing play in the Mercer County Tournament this week. Top-seeded Hun, the defending county champion, was slated to face fifth-seeded Princeton High in the MCT semis on May 16 with the victor advancing to the final on May 18 at Hopewell Valley High. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Last spring, Ryan Demato enjoyed a superb senior campaign for the St. Augustine boys’ lacrosse program.

Demato led the squad in scoring with 62 points on 35 goals and 27 assists and helped the Hermits go 16-2 and win the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public Group A title.

But deciding that he needed to grow on and off the field, Demato opted to do a post-graduate year at the Hun School and play another high school season.

“I just wanted an extra year for recruiting, getting bigger, stronger, faster, and challenging myself with Hun’s curriculum,” said Demato. “It is definitely a difficult school. I think it will prepare me well for college.”

Last Saturday, Demato had a strong effort, scoring four goals as Hun jumped out to a 6-0 halftime lead over Lenape High on the way to a 13-1 victory as it improved to 9-4 and posted its fifth straight win.

“I felt like my shot was hitting so it felt good,” said Demato who scored two goals in the first quarter and had a hat trick by halftime. “Getting off to a fast start is huge in any game. Today with an athletic team like Lenape and us a little banged up team from yesterday like us (after topping Pennington 12-3 in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals), that was a huge part of why we were able to keep it rolling into the rest of the game.”

Demato’s connection with junior attacker Danny Cano has helped the Raiders get rolling down the stretch.

“It is awesome, meeting him this year and getting to play with him has been great,” said Demato of Cano, who also had four goals against Lenape. “He is a talented lefty, I like playing with lefties.”

Getting to play with a different squad has been awesome for Demato.

“It is always good to switch up the kids you are playing with,” said Demato, who has committed to attend University of Maryland, Baltimore County and play for its Division I men’s lax program. “Getting to know new faces and play with different types of games is really beneficial. Being able to do it with coach [Jim] Stagnitta is great, he knows what he is doing.”

While Demato is ineligible for the MCT as a postgraduate, he is looking forward to seeing Hun go after a second straight county crown. Top-seeded Hun faces fifth-seeded Princeton High in the MCT semis on May 16 with the victor advancing to the final on May 18 at Hopewell Valley High.

“I am super excited to watch those guys,” said Demato. “I am sure they will do great, it is a talented group of kids out there.”
Hun head coach Jim Stagnitta was excited about his squad performing at both ends of the field in the win over Lenape.

“We played great today, it was our third game in the last three days,” said Stagnitta, whose team had defeated Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) 18-9 on Thursday. “It is the first full game we have played all year. We really played well offensively. We shared the ball, we created opportunities. This was our best effort on both ends of the field.”

The pair of Demato and Cano had been creating a lot of scoring opportunities for the Raiders.

“Ryan continues to get better, he is figuring somethings out; I am asking him to do some things he is not used to doing but it is stuff that he is going to need to do at the next level,” said Stagnitta. “Danny Cano is starting to play the way he is capable of playing. He was terrific.”

Stagnitta got terrific effort from his back line unit against Lenape as Hun didn’t give up a goal until early in the fourth quarter.
“Our defense has been good all year; when we are dialed in, our defense has been good and they have been consistent,” said Stagnitta. “[Charles] Guida has played well [Ryan] Donahue and [Cameron] Donovan have been good since the beginning of the year, Donovan has gotten better and better.”

Looking ahead to the MCT semis, Stagnitta believes his squad has what it takes to win a second straight county crown.
“It is going to be challenging,” said Stagnitta. “We have played a lot of games in a row and we are going to need some young guys to step up. I think we can compete here.”

Demato, for his part, likes the way the Raiders have been competing down the stretch.

“When you bring in a PG group of four or five kids, it is hard to bring them straight into the mix of things,”said Demato. “Towards the end of the year we are starting to click really well.”