Anthony Abreu and Mike Cavallo started playing boys’ lacrosse together in fourth grade for a Monroe Township Recreation team.
Abreu played an attack position and Cavallo lined up on defense. It mostly stayed that way for the next three years. Local coaches liked Abreu up front and Cavallo in the back.
But when the teammates entered seventh grade, Mike Ruopoli became their intramural coach. Ruopoli saw in practice that Cavallo had a quick first step, and the coach moved his defender up to an attack position, with Abreu.
In their first season on offense together, Abreu and Cavallo thrived. Since Abreu was a righty and Cavallo a lefty, they were a natural fit. They could always see each other.
“Sometimes we didn’t even have to look,” Cavallo said.
It was only the beginning.
“High school was take off time,” Abreu said.
In 2018, as juniors at Monroe Township High School, Abreu and Cavallo led the Falcons to the best season in program history.
Monroe went 18-2, the most victories in school history, and won its second Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament championship with a 7-6 triumph over East Brunswick High School in the title game.
Monroe also reached the NJSIAA South Jersey, Group 4 sectional tournament semifinals, falling to Lenape High School, 10-1.
This spring, the old friends are back for their senior campaign. They are hoping to win championships, especially the one that eluded them last year.
“A state title would be nice,” Cavallo said.
Monroe will open its 2019 season with a road game at Ridge High School on March 27.
Last season, Abreu registered 42 goals and 15 assists. Cavallo recorded 35 goals and 31 assists.
They are two of only four starters back for the Falcons, so they will have to score at a similar rate for the team to be a contender again. But that shouldn’t be an issue. Abreu and Cavallo have been playing together for nine years, and their chemistry is at its peak.
“We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses so well,” Abreu said. “It’s pretty crazy to be honest.”
Monroe has had two boys’ lacrosse players win the GMC Offensive Player of the Year Award. Matt Siemons won in 2013 and Sean Gillies took home the honor in 2016.
Monroe’s coach, Joe Yannone, thinks Abreu or Cavallo can join this exclusive club. He even believes they can enter it together as co-winners.
With few experienced players across the rest of the field, the Falcons are going to play a ball control offense in 2019. More possession time will mean more scoring opportunities for Monroe’s two big attackers.
“They both can score and distribute, and they will be our engineers on offense,” Yannone said. “So they can really put up numbers.”
This spring could be the culmination of a successful partnership and friendship. But things will change after this year, as they often do after high school.
Starting in 2020, Abreu will play lacrosse at the Sage College of Albany in New York State. Cavallo is committed to play for Stockton University in Galloway Township.
The two expect to remain friends. But this will probably be their last season as teammates.
“It’s going to be different without him,” Cavallo said. “He has always been on the other side.”
“We want to end everything on a high note,” Abreu said.