Pictured during his senior season at Needham High in 2017, Sam Eisenstadt (25) has joined up with former Needham teammates Mike Elcock and Joe Bruno out at UMass, where he has emerged as one of the Minutemen’s top defensive poles after starting three games as a freshman last season and appearing in all 17.
By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Needham has become a hotbed for Division I lacrosse talent, much thanks to the strength of the town’s youth program, as well as the success of the boys varsity program at Needham High.
With the sport growing by the day and Needham’s youth and high school programs flourishing, many Division I schools around the Northeast have started to make Needham one of their main recruiting grounds. No other school, however, has had as big of a recruiting presence in Needham, it seems, than UMass. Three Needham High grads are currently rostered for the 2019 season: redshirt senior LSM/close D Mike Elcock, sophomore close D Sam Eisenstadt, and Endicott transfer and face-off specialist/midfielder Joe Bruno.
Along with strong work ethics and intense amounts of love for the game, Elcock says that the Needham youth program played a massive role in he and his two fellow Needham-raised teammates getting the opportunity to play Division I college lacrosse.
“I would say our lacrosse IQ and our stick skills,” said Elcock when asked about what he’s been able to take with him from his days in youth and high school to UMass. “Since we were able to grow up with such a great youth program, we were able to practice at high levels every day. Being surrounded by coaches and teammates, we were able to grow our knowledge of the game, as well as our skills.”
As for playing at a school like UMass, where 16 of the 43 players rostered hail from Massachusetts and 23 of the 43 grew up in New England, Elcock says that he and his teammates embrace the fact that roughly half of them grew up playing with or against one another.
“It is a great experience being able to play with guys who were, at one point, on an opposing team,” said Elcock. “We always joke about whose team beat whose, or what team was better in high school. But once we start playing with each other, all we care about is being able to represent Massachusetts lacrosse and work towards our team’s common goal.”
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0.