Nutley boys lacrosse continues hot start with comeback win at Dayton

All season the Nutley boys lacrosse team has set out to prove that last year’s 3-13 record was an aberration and in no way indicative of what they are capable of. These first two weeks have shown just that.

Thanks to a balanced approach on offense and a flair for late-game dramatics, the Maroon Raiders have already eclipsed last year’s win total with a 5-1 start to the season. The most recent of those victories, a stunning, 8-7 overtime win over Dayton on Saturday in which it overcame a 7-1 third period deficit.

The victory was the Raiders’ first in the NJILL Klank Division in two years.

“Coming into the year (winning more games than last) was one of our goals,” head coach Michael Salvatelli said. “We’re not satisfied with three wins. Obviously 3-13 is not something we accept as anywhere near good. It just left a taste in our mouth and we didn’t want that to happen again.”

Nutley opened the season with four consecutive victories, its longest winning streak in a decade before Thursday’s loss at Verona.

A year earlier, Nutley lost 14-7 to Dayton. Saturday’s showdown in Springfield seemed destined for a similar outcome before scoring six unanswered goals in regulation to force overtime. Then, in the extra period, junior midfielder Nick Wilson scored the game-winner, capping off perhaps the greatest comeback in program history.

“I told them after the game that it was a huge win for us, an unbelievable accomplishment to be down that much in the second half and win,” said Salvatelli. “It’s definitely the biggest comeback we’ve ever had.”

Wilson, who had three goals and an assist in the win, is part of the Raiders’ three-headed monster on offense, alongside senior David Adams (two goals, three assists) and sophomore Angelo Albanesse (two goals, two assists).

For the season, Adams, who is in his second year as an attacking player after starting his high school career as a goalie at Seton Hall Prep, has a team-high 18 goals to go with nine assists. Five of those goals came in a come-from-behind 9-8 win over Old Tappan on April 1.

“Last year he did a great job for us, but he’s just a lot more comfortable this year as a senior,” Salvatelli said. “He’s really controlling our offense. He knows how to set the pace, he knows when to attack, he knows when he’s got to move the ball. He’s probably improved the most on offense.”

Albanese, the other attacker alongside Adams, has 11 goals and 11 assists, already eclipsing last year’s point total.

Wilson (11 goals, six assists) headlines the attacking midfield group with juniors Kyle Algieri and Tyler Hsiao. Senior Tommy Devlin (six goals, three assists) and freshman Val Delaney (five goals) have further bolstered Nutley’s offense.

Freshman AJ Del Greco is the long-stick midfielder with fellow freshman Riley Garofalo and senior Nate Arroyo serving as the short-stick midfielders on defense.

Sophomore Jacob Harlow anchors the defense along with Darien Valdez and Otto Fabianich in front of goalie Michael Koster.

Koster, a sophomore, has made significant strides in his second season as the starter in net.

“Mike’s continuously having double-digit saves in every game we’re playing and bailing us out in a lot of situations where we make a mistake defensively,” said Salvatelli. “He just makes an incredible save and just saves goal after goal and gets a sound transition and really starts kick-starting our offense.”

Nutley, which hasn’t had a winning season in 10 years, looks to continue its winning ways on Tuesday when it hosts Morris Catholic before traveling to Clifton the next day.

“The fun part is with each win we’ve had, it seems like they’re coming into the next practice and the next game just that much more confident in what we can do as a team,” Salvatelli said. “You hear them being louder on defense, just moving the ball more comfortably on offense.”

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Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer

Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)