Former GCS lacrosse players together again

It is a small world, after all.

Aaron Cahill, Eugene Sellie, and Danny Santandrea are far removed from their days as Guilderland lacrosse players, but all three of them were on the field for the Division II Championship game last month in Philadelphia. Cahill and Santandrea were teammates for LeMoyne College, and they went up against Sellie, who will be a senior at Mercyhurst College next fall.

When athletes leave high school, they go in all different directions, but somehow Santandrea, who was in eighth grade when Cahill graduated from Guilderland, ended up at LeMoyne with Cahill, a graduate student. Sellie was a sophomore at Guilderland when Cahill was a senior, and spent one season as his Dutch teammate.

“It was funny to be going against him, and kind of ironic,” Sellie said of Cahill, who scored 12 seconds into the Division II title game. LeMoyne won, 11 to 10. “We’re both midfielders, but I didn’t really guard him much,” Sellie said. “He was facing me on one clear, and I looked over and knew exactly who he was.”

The evening before the game, the three Guilderland alumni talked during the NCAA banquet. They spoke about lacrosse, and wished each other good luck.

“Eugene had this Mohawk haircut, and I had this huge beard,” said Cahill. “We all laughed. I don’t know how all three of us ended up there, but it was cool.”

Cahill and Sellie had a lot of playing time during the championship game, but Santandrea, a freshman, didn’t get into the game. He played in eight regular-season games for the Dolphins.

“Granted, I haven’t played a lot, but I went nuts when we won the national title,” Santandrea said. “I’m still a champion, and I’m going to try and get better. It’s not bad to have dreams.”

Prior to LeMoyne, Santandrea knew Cahill’s name, but didn’t know him personally. Santandrea said he was “tripping over himself” during the Dolphins’ first practice of the 2013 season. Since there was a Guilderland bond, Cahill tried to help.

“I had no idea what I was doing, so Aaron took me under his wing during my low points,” said Santandrea. “LeMoyne has this classic phrase, ‘Figure it out,’ and that’s what Aaron told me to do. I think I did.”

Cahill told The Enterprise that the “Figure it out” phrase is kind of a joke. “I gave Danny a little crap at first, but then I showed him the ropes,” he said. “We’re a close-knit team, and we do help our teammates, but we’re not going to hold your hand.”

Sellie more or less emulated Cahill when they played together at Guilderland. Sellie followed Cahill’s footsteps to Onondaga Community College, but Cahill had already moved on to LeMoyne.

“I tried to teach Eugene the ropes when we played in high school,” Cahill said, “and then I suggested that he go to Onondaga.”

Everything came to a full circle two weeks ago in Philadelphia. Sellie already knew Santandrea because his younger brother played football with Santandrea.

“We all came from a strong school,” Sellie said. “It was nice to think about Guilderland because I always looked up to the older kids.”

Still, Sellie was bitter about losing a Division II championship. Mercyhurst was down, 10 to 5, in the third quarter, but then made a fierce comeback. LeMoyne gave Mercyhurst its only loss of the 2013 season.

“I was caught between a rock and a hard place because, yes, people that I knew from my hometown succeeded, but, also, in my own selfishness, I’m mad that I didn’t win,” said Sellie. “We hit three pipes towards the end of the game.”

Cahill is finished playing lacrosse for LeMoyne, ending his career as a national champion. He’s second-generation Irish, and got invited to play for Team Ireland during the World Games in Denver next year. He had eight goals, one assist, and 60 ground balls for the Dolphins this season.

“We’re the best team, and we can re-live this whenever we want,” Cahill said of LeMoyne. “It’s a huge feeling of accomplishment.”

 

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