Nothing Lax About It: Hanover Graduate Brings Lacrosse to Fla. School

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/26/2018 5:14:48 PM
Modified: 11/26/2018 5:14:51 PM

The sport of lacrosse has grown immensely in the northeastern United States over the last several decades, and has become a staple of spring high school sports throughout the region. It’s caught on slower in other parts of the country, including football hotbeds such as Florida.

Hanover High graduate and current Fort Lauderdale, Fla. resident Matt Salvatoriello said he feels like he’s getting in at the ground level.

Salvatoriello, a 1993 Hanover alumnus and former Marauders attackman, was named program director and boys lacrosse head coach at Fort Lauderdale’s Westminster Academy earlier this month. He is tasked with organizing the school’s first lacrosse program from scratch. He previously worked as a assistant football coach for the school. A chance to build something, though, was too good to pass up.

“It’s a very exciting opportunity, I don’t take it lightly,” Salvatoriello said during a phone interview last week. “I’m honored to have them choose me to be their inaugural coach. I understand there’s a lot of responsibility, a lot of challenges. I’m going to have the opportunity to put my stamp on Westminster lacrosse.”

Salvatoriello, a real estate agent who has lived in Florida for the last four years, played four years of varsity lacrosse at Hanover under former Marauder head coach Herb Hatch. He played a post-graduate year at Phillips Exeter Academy before playing collegiate lacrosse at Colby (Maine) College and Salve Regina (R.I.) University, which had just started its lacrosse program in 1997.

Salvatoriello is second in the Salve Regina record book goals scored in a single game (7) and points in a single game (9) during a March 25, 1998 game against Bridgewater State. He was the Seahawks’ first All-conference lacrosse player.

In his new role, Salvatoriello said he’s adopted a lot of his coaching philosophies from his high school coach.

“I thought he was a fantastic coach,” Salvatoriello said of Hatch. “His discipline of the game, his focus on the fundamentals. More importantly, he preached hard work. … In high school, we were always the hardest working team on the field.”

Westminster Academy, a private college preparatory Christian school that offers classes from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade, was founded in 1971. The school offers 21 sports — football, basketball and baseball. This spring will be its first competing in lacrosse with a boys-only team. Salvatoriello said a girls team, as well as a feeder program foundation for the high school’s varsity teams, already are in the works.

Starting from scratch, Salvatoriello said, presents its own unique challenges — most importantly conducting an assessment of the school’s student body and the kind of lacrosse talent that might already be present. With that, he’ll have to wait and see.

“The number one thing we have to ascertain is what type of lacrosse background and lacrosse skill set out student body has,” he said. “In Florida, lacrosse hasn’t always been as prevalent as some other sports.

“In the Northeast, lacrosse — when I was in high school — was much more prevalent, compared to Florida. As time as gone on, and more so now, there are a lot more club teams, and more teams in the local area. There is a lacrosse background here.”

That also allows Salvatoriello a chance to build something new.

“It’s really exciting to me,” he said. “I have the opportunity to put my stamp and have a hand in growing lacrosse at Westminster. I’m basically going to be the one setting our guiding principles, our core values, our expectations. That’s going to set the tone for Westminster lacrosse.

“We have all the things ahead of us: our first goal, our first game, our first championship. It rests squarely on the shoulders of our student-athletes. I’m excited about great things to come at Westminster Academy.”

Josh Weinreb can be reached at or 603-727-3306.

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