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Princeton University

Alexandra Kelly

By Rich Acritelli

In praise of Old Nassau we sing,

Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!

Our hearts will give, while we shall live,

Three cheers for Old Nassau.

These hallowed words represent the proud alma mater of Princeton University, which has gained the academic and athletic talents of current Rocky Point student Alexandra Kelly and 2016 graduate Kyle Strovink. Both individuals will no doubt shine bright at the prestigious university. 

Graduating this year, Kelly is a humble, soft-spoken lady and dynamic soccer forward who helped the Eagles to a distinguished season. This all-county athlete was seen hustling up and down the field for her team, which scored many goals. 

Kyle Strovink

Once soccer ended, Kelly concentrated on her winter track season, where she’s been one of the leading triple jumpers and long jumpers on Long Island and in New York state. She placed fifth as a 10th grader in the state, but was unable to compete during her junior year due to COVID-19.

On March 5, this determined competitor took first place in the triple jump with a leap of 39-06.00 at the 2022 NYSPHSAA Indoor Track and Field Championships held at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex, Staten Island. She continued to do well at the New Balance Nationals, where she placed fifth at this New York City Armory event. 

Though recruited by Dartmouth, the U.S. Naval Academy and Stanford University, Kelly chose to attend Princeton this coming fall. 

Strovink is now in uniform as volunteer assistant baseball coach at Princeton, working with catchers and hitters. A graduate of Limestone University in South Carolina, this All-American high school baseball player and college standout now has the experience of working with ex-New York Yankee Scott Bradley. The former Major League ballplayer has been instrumental in mentoring the Rocky Point native who has coached his team in games against strong southern colleges.  

Strovink comes from a prominent North Shore athletic family. Older brother Brennan was an excellent athlete who now teaches physical education and is coaching baseball and wrestling at Patchogue-Medford High School. Father Eric was a baseball phenom at Shoreham-Wading River High School. This feared hitter played at Louisiana State University, C.W. Post and briefly for the Texas Rangers.  

Like his family, Kyle is interested in coaching baseball at the college level and making it his career. He has been connecting well with Ivy League ballplayers who have seen little time on the field over the last two years due to the pandemic. And while his team has a losing record this season, 2-13, the Tigers recently won a doubleheader against Towson, scoring 39 runs.

Strovink is looking forward to opening his team’s conference play against rivals such as Brown, Cornell, Columbia, Dartmouth, Harvard and Yale. 

The sky is the limit for these former Rocky Point Eagles who are now proud Princeton Tigers.

Author Rich Acritelli is a history teacher at Rocky Point High School and adjunct professor at Suffolk County Community College.

Kerrin Maurer reflects on time playing for team Italy in World Cup

Kerrin Maurer competes in the World Cup for team Italy. Photo from Kerrin Maurer

A Setauket native is spreading her love of lacrosse across the globe.

Kerrin Maurer, a St. Anthony’s High School and Duke University graduate, arrived home from Guilford, England with a revived passion for her favorite pastime after playing for team Italy in its first Federation of International Lacrosse Rathbones World Cup appearance. Despite her competitive nature, she said she enjoyed her time teaching Italian children about the game more so than the actual tournament.

“Being able to play the sport I love while traveling and helping to grow the game was a unique opportunity,” she said. “We want to help Italy sustain the sport in the country for as long as possible.”

Kerrin Maurer earned a most valuable player nod following one of team Italy’s wins. Photo from Kerrin Maurer

When she did step onto the field, Maurer shined.

The midfielder earned Most Valuable Player honors twice during pool play, and concluded the World Cup tournament with 61 draw controls. The former Duke All-American tallied 21 goals and 20 assists for the second-most points in the tournament. In the eight games played, she caused three turnovers.

“She killed the draw,” team Italy head coach and University of Massachusetts women’s lacrosse head coach Angela McMahon said. “She was scoring a ton, setting up her teammates, communicating and being a leader. We don’t get a lot of practices so it was a work in progress and she helped the whole team improve. She really stepped up.”

Maurer performed especially well in an 18-17 win over Haudenosaunee. The teams battled back and forth, entering halftime tied 10-10, but Italy pulled through with an 18-17 victory. Maurer turned in three goals, four assists and eight draw controls to help spearhead the attack.

“I haven’t got to play in a while, so just playing again was a ton of fun,” Maurer said. “Every game was super competitive, which was awesome.”

The two-time All-American graduated from Duke in 2014 as the program’s leader in assists with 119. A three-time Tewaaraton Award nominee, an award given to the best collegiate player, Maurer graduated second in Duke history in career points with 280 and tied for fourth in career goals with 161, while finishing on a 47-game point scoring streak. She helped the Blue Devils to four NCAA quarterfinal appearances, and reached the semifinals in 2015 after topping Princeton University in the quarterfinals.

Since graduating with a degree in political science, she was named an assistant coach at Division I Mount Saint Mary’s University in Maryland, and this month, will begin a new venture as an assistant at Princeton. Maurer is currently completing her master’s degree in sports management, and said she was excited to also be able to hone her coaching skills during the FIL tournament.

“Learning the proper technique from successful coaches has helped me grow my love for the game and want to teach others the way I’ve been taught.”

—Kerrin Maurer

“I think seeing the game on an international level, seeing what everyone else is doing and the different systems is helpful,” she said. “You see these different strategies and plays and it’s good to learn and study.”

Her teammate Gabby Capuzzi from Pennsylvania, who is currently a coach at the United States Naval Academy, thought the team benefited from having coaches on its roster. She first met her Setauket friend during tryouts in Italy when she let her borrow a pair of her gloves.

“She’s a tough, hard-nosed Long Island player,” Capuzzi said. “She’s not selfish, she fed me most of my goals and she’s a team player, but she’ll take her looks. She’s a good heads-up player.”

Maurer said she’s thankful for her time spent playing lacrosse in Setauket at an early age. Because of the coaching and guidance she received, Maurer said she felt like she was able to bring a lot of skill over to Italy and the team.

“I think I’m really fortunate that Setauket is such a hotbed for lacrosse,” she said. “Feeding off a ton of knowledge within the area about lacrosse and the excitement around the game has helped fuel my passion along the way. Learning the proper technique from successful coaches has helped me grow my love for the game and want to teach others the way I’ve been taught.”

Team Italy wasn’t sure if it would even be able to compete in the FIL. There were concerns as to whether Italian Americans would be allowed to play for the team, and when the news broke they would be allowed, the midfielder couldn’t be happier.

“It was surreal,” she said of being a small-town girl playing on such a big stage. “When they did make the decision and I was chosen to play, it was a dream come true. It’s the highest level you can play at.”

Kerrin Maurer teaches native Italians in Italy. Photo from Kerrin Maurer

Italy finished 11th out of 25 teams. It was the only country making its first appearance to finish in the top half of the list, with other first-timers like Switzerland (19), Mexico (20), Sweden (21), China (22), Spain (23), Columbia (24) and Belgium (25) also making inaugural entrances.

“Coming in 11th, even though it may not sound like a big deal, was huge for us,” Maurer said. “We finished the highest out of any team making its debut ever in the tournament’s history. I think that in itself, and seeing the Italian citizens improve over the course of this process, that’s what it’s about for us.”

Her teammate agreed, adding that the changing atmosphere is current exciting for lacrosse.

“The most rewarding part of all of this is growing our sport to hopefully make a push for the Olympics in a few years,” Capuzzi said. “In January 2013 we were teaching 20-year-olds how to catch and throw who had never picked up a stick before. We’re usually working with youth at camps here in America and it’s exciting to get youth and club programs up and running in Italy. I think we sparked that.”

For now, Maurer is just focused on continuing to spread the love.

“We’re trying to keep it fresh,” she said. “We’re trying to get viewership up and spread it around the world. Everyone’s excited to learn the sport and it brings a renewed energy when I step out onto the field with them — remembering why you play the game.”

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Port Jefferson wrestler Matteo DeVincenzo has committed to Princeton University. Photo from Port Jefferson school district

Port Jefferson senior and wrestling champion Matteo DeVincenzo has committed to attend Princeton University and join the school’s athletic program next fall.

“I found the school’s wrestling and strong academic offering to be a good fit for me,” he said. “University representatives were very welcoming to me during my visits and I am looking forward to working with the coach.”

DeVincenzo said he intends to study business and finance while also wrestling for the Tigers. As a junior, DeVincenzo earned the Eastern States Crown before moving onto the state tournament, where he took the bronze.

Port Jefferson school district extended its congratulations to DeVincenzo. The school is confident he will continue to bring the Royals pride through his future achievements.