By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 7/6/09
Conestoga rising senior defenseman Casey Ikeda has made a verbal to commitment to play for the University of Maryland in 2010-11.
“When I first went down there I really liked the players, and the coaching staff is great,” Ikeda said. “I mean it’s all you’re really looking for.
“It’s probably one of the best lacrosse schools in the country. I really have got to thank all my coaches.”
Ikeda, who is undecided on a major, is also happy he will now play with La Salle’s Nikoa Amato, the goalie who helped the Explorers defeat Conestoga for the PIAA crown. Amato, a two-time All-American, signed with Maryland and begins playing there in the fall.
”He’s a great goalie,” said Ikeda. “At least I’ll get to play with him now, instead of going against him.”
Ikeda said the 2009 season was a special one for Conestoga. The Pioneers went 24-2, went undefeated in the Central League and downed Downingtown East, 7-4, for the first District 1 crown. He credited fellow defenseman Mike Bronzino and Phil Cuddeback for their leadership on the backline.
“I think we really had good senior leadership and that gave us an edge over a lot of teams,” Ikeda said. “Being abler to play defense with those guys made it so much easier. I am still learning, it was my first year playing close defense and being with those guys gave me an advantage.”
Ikeda said playing defense was fun because he got to watch the Pioneers’ offense execute one of the top fast break games anywhere.
“The offense is so exciting to watch,” he said. “There would be games we’d be sitting back on defense with complete amazement on how the offense moved the ball and how often they scored.”
Although several key seniors have graduated, Conestoga figured to be a favorite next year. Already, Austin Rogusky (Loyola), Matt Smith (Lehigh) and Ryan Buttenbaum (Lehigh) have committed to Division I schools and several others are close to making commitments.
Ikeda expects that many of t6hese players will fill the roles of team leaders in 2010.
“I feel it’s something I’ll grow into,” he said. “Not all of us have to take the lead role. We’ll have many seniors that can lead in their own specific way. It will be a challenge we all will look forward to.”