Ramapo building a dynasty under Tom Albano by Sean Farrell of The Record
Something was missing when Tom Albano got to Ramapo.
Championship banners adorned the school’s gymnasium.
Good athletes filled the hallways.
The potential was all around for the boys lacrosse dynasty he’s created.
But the team he took over wasn’t quite like the one today.
The Green Raiders had their ups and downs as coaches came and went.
“We were kind of the one sport that wasn’t at that [championship] caliber yet,” Albano said.
“When I took over six years ago, I told our boys that I’m not going anywhere. One of the things that held back Ramapo was I was the 10th head coach in 11 years. Things kept changing. Systems kept changing. Mentalities kept changing. What we’ve done over the last few years hasn’t changed. We’re a gritty team. I’ve tried to instill a blue-collar mentality.”
What Ramapo is doing now is surprising many around the state, along with some inside the program.
The Green Raiders (17-5) are one of the last four teams left in New Jersey, even after being underdogs in their own section.
They will try to win as the dark horse again on Wednesday night in a matchup with Delbarton in the Tournament of Champions semifinal.
If they can shock the defending champions, they would become only the third team ever from Bergen County to reach the state final.
“We’re starting to build the school up like it was 10 years ago,” said senior Andrew Robbins, who noted that more local players are staying home.
“People are starting to respect us as a program because coach [Albano] has done a really great job over his six years to work on the fundamentals.”
Albano brought a wealth of lacrosse experience and expertise when he arrived in Franklin Lakes.
After playing goalie for Ridgewood, he spent four years at Division III Springfield College in Massachusetts and even set a single-season record for goals against average while on the Pride.
At Ramapo, his team has thrived on the defensive end as well.
The Green Raiders have allowed just 5.17 goals per game during the state tournament.
“He knows how to put the right players on the field at the right time,” sophomore Jack Griffin said.
This season is the fourth in a row that Ramapo has won at least 12 games.
It’s even more impressive considering that only three seniors are in its starting lineup.
Whatever happens on Wednesday night, the Green Raiders expect to be strong for years to come.
“More and more kids are buying into the program,” senior Jack Scordato said. “We had a record number of kids come out to try out for varsity. We’re building this up. The more we win, the more people want to come. And the expectation of winning makes people work harder.”
To Albano, it was only a matter time before Ramapo put together the type of season like this one.
“In the back of my mind, did I think we could go far? Yeah. We still had to get the wins and take care of business to get there,” Albano said. “But this is something we’ve been looking for in this program for quite some time and we’ve finally got it.”