Holding 13 of its 17 opponents to less than 10 goals, Greenwich’s boys lacrosse team was sparked by its stellar defense this past spring and Chris Cataldo anchored the unit that made it difficult for foes to score.
A 2021 Greenwich graduate, Cataldo was a consistent force on defense for the Cardinals, using sound technique and fundamentals to lead the squad’s defense, which was a significant asset throughout the season.
And his talents certainly didn’t go unnoticed.
Cataldo, a standout defender, was one of 16 Connecticut athletes to be named to the US Lacrosse 2021 All-America Team. He also earned CHSLCA All-State Team and All-FCIAC First Team honors.
“I am very proud and honored to be one of the 16 Connecticut All-Americans,” Cataldo said. “I could not have done it without coach (Bobby) Lutz and (Jeremy) White and all of our team’s coaches. My teammates were also very helpful.”
Also an outstanding ice hockey player for the Cardinals, Cataldo emerged as a premier defender this spring, following a 2020 season that was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic – a source of frustration for all athletes. He trained especially hard with his twin brother, John, in 2020, which saw teams sidelined all year. An attack, John Cataldo was one of Greenwich’s leading goal scorers and playmakers this past season. He received All-FCIAC West Team recognition.
“I knew we couldn’t sit around all the time when we were in quarantine last year,” Chris Cataldo said. “Since he’s an offensive player and I’m a defender, we would do 1-v-1 all the time last year. I went to the gym a lot and throughout the whole offseason I worked toward having a breakout senior year, given that I was not able to have a junior season. I tried to perfect my craft as best as I could and I just wanted to help my team as much as I could and to go as far as I could.”
Despite being chosen as an All-American performer by US Lacrosse, Cataldo was not heavily recruited by colleges, because his junior season was cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis.
“It was really tough for me, with the whole recruiting process becoming a huge speed bump for a lot of athletes such as myself, across the country. It’s something we all had to overcome.”
Cataldo drew looks from some schools during his senior year, but some of them weren’t on the list of schools he was looking into.
“College coaches were not able to watch me play my junior season, which was really frustrating and hit me pretty hard,” he said. “It is what it is, it is something I have had to deal with. In some ways it made me stronger.”
Most colleges already had their list of recruits set by this past spring, including Boston College, one of the schools Cataldo is especially interested in attending. He is currently figuring out what he wants to do in terms of playing lacrosse in college or just focusing on academics at the collegiate level.
“No matter what happens, I will have a great college career,” Cataldo said. “Whether I am playing lacrosse or going to school and not playing lacrosse, I am excited about college either way.”
John Cataldo will soon be heading to Notre Dame, where according to Chris, he may try to walk on to the school’s lacrosse team. Both Cataldo brothers have also excelled in the classroom. Chris said they enjoy mathematics and may purse macroeconomics or business majors in college.
“We are always competing whether it was in the classroom or on the lacrosse field or hockey rink,” Chris Cataldo said. “I wouldn’t be satisfied until I won the last battle and he wouldn’t be satisfied if he won the last battle. We were able to help each other and work on each other’s weaknesses, because we brought different things to the table. He has really helped me with everything.”
The Cataldo brothers were also key players on the Cardinals’ ice hockey teams over the years. Chris received All-FCIAC Division I First Team accolades this past winter.
“We both enjoyed playing ice hockey, the team was such a tight-knit group,” Chris Cataldo said. “The team was good the past four years, we made it to four championships the last four seasons, which created some more memories. It’s nice to play another sport instead of just having the lacrosse season. The skills I learned in hockey helped me in lacrosse as well.”
The 2021 lacrosse season saw Greenwich finish with a record of 11-6, including an 11-4 mark during the regular season – a record that earned them the FCIAC West Division title. In the postseason, the Cardinals dropped an 8-2 decision to Ridgefield in the FCIAC Tournament quarterfinals, then get edged by Fairfield Prep, 10-9, in the opening round of the CIAC Class L Tournament. With the score tied, Fairfield Prep scored the game-winning goal with three seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
“We wish we could get the Fairfield Prep game back,” Cataldo said. “Losing on a last second shot to end our careers was very tough. We knew we could have beaten them and look at how they did the rest of the way (Prep lost to Ridgefield in the Class L final). We knew deep down that we could have beaten anyone in the state if we played a good game. Even in the Fairfield Prep game, we went down three goals, but we came back instead of packing it in. We faced many different obstacles throughout the season.”
Greenwich took the field against Fairfield Prep in the Class L Tournament game with heavy hearts. Chris Andrea, a Greenwich native, who served as one of the team’s assistant coaches, died on May 28 at the age of 33. A graduate of Trinity-Pawling and Fairfield University, Andrea also coached with the Greenwich Youth Lacrosse organization, along with the Greenwich High team. He played lacrosse at both Trinity-Pawling and Fairfield University. He resided in Stamford with his wife Jamie.
“It was really tough losing our coach late in the season,” Cataldo said. “That came as a shock to all of us. He helped me a lot and did so much for our program. It made us realize how fragile life is.”
Greenwich’s season started later than most teams, as it had to go through a two-week COVID-19 quarantine in April, before it even played a game. The Cardinals also played their way through a couple of key injuries during the course of the season.
“The quarantine made us have to play a lot of games in a lot less time than a lot of other teams,” Cataldo said. “This obstacle made for a tougher road for us to go through during the season. But we still went out there and had a successful season.”
Cataldo played house league lacrosse as a second-grader, then began honing his skills with Greenwich Youth Lacrosse when he was in fourth grade – a popular league in town that sparked his enthusiasm for the sport.
“It was fun to get to play with such a good group of guys,” he said. “I learned a lot through all of the coaches that I had and I played on so many talented teams.”
Indeed, learned plenty from competing in athletics at Greenwich.
“Sports taught me time the importance of time management,” he said. “Playing lacrosse and ice hockey also brought me a lot of friends and it taught me how to commit to something. I knew I had to get the job done on the field and in the classroom, because at the end of the day, your grades stick with you forever.”