HomeNewsJudge sophomore happy he tried lacrosse

Judge sophomore happy he tried lacrosse

Ralph Israel started playing lacrosse freshman year at Father Judge. Now he loves it nearly as much as soccer. Photo: Dave Picariello

Ralph Israel is willing to do whatever it takes to improve.

The Father Judge High School sophomore is a soccer player by trade. He’s been playing the sport since he was 3 years old, and ever since the day he started playing at his home, he’s loved it.

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“I had a ball at my house and I would just kick it around,” said Israel, a Mayfair resident who grew up in Oxford Circle. “My dad signed me up for soccer, and I started playing. I did love it right away. I was playing, and I started taking it more seriously as I went on.”

He took it seriously when he was 3, but that passion has just grown since he was a little kid kicking the ball around.

But he was also looking to play another sport when he got to Judge. There were a lot of options, and he had experience in some sports.

Instead, he opted for something else.

“Soccer is always my main sport,” Israel said. “When I got to high school, I wanted to play another sport. I played baseball growing up, played it my whole life, but I didn’t like it. Too much waiting around, I guess. I like contact sports and I just wanted to try something new.”

That’s when he found lacrosse.

And since signing up, he’s picked the game up very quickly.

“Lacrosse is good because it helps me a lot with soccer skills,” said Israel, who mainly plays defense in soccer but moves around a bit more in lacrosse. “It’s definitely helped me stamina wise because you’re always running. It’s helped my hand-eye coordination a lot, too, which I guess you don’t use a lot during soccer, but it’s also helped my footwork.

“When lacrosse season is over, I’m in great shape. It helps so much to go right into soccer because I’m ready. I’m in shape, I just need to get in soccer condition.”

When Israel started playing lacrosse, he did so to have fun and he did it to make soccer a little easier.

But ever since picking up the spring sport, he’s started to improve, which made him take it more seriously.

Now, it hasn’t overtaken his love of soccer, but it’s right there.

A lot of that is because of how well he’s playing.

Though just a sophomore, he’s now on varsity and is contributing. He knows it’s going to take some time to become a solid starter on the lacrosse team, but he’s doing everything he can to put himself in position to help the Crusaders, who finished 4-9 in Catholic League play, but this was after starting 0-4 in PCL play.

Judge showed improvement over the course of the second half of the season, including a three-game winning streak it enjoyed with triumphs over Cardinal O’Hara, Bonner-Prendergast and Archbishop Carroll. .

Israel did whatever he could to get on the field, first at the junior varsity level as a freshman and this year on the varsity squad.

“I worked really hard on faceoffs, I wanted to become a faceoff guy and I worked really hard at those,” said Israel, who acknowledges he still misses baseball at times, but is happy he made the switch. “The biggest difference (from JV to varsity) was the speed. And the size. It’s way faster, and when you get hit, the contact is way harder. It’s a huge jump from one to the other, so it took me a little time to get used to it, but I’m good now.

“My role is to take faceoffs. Last year I was captain of the JV, this year I’m just doing faceoffs. It meant a lot to me. First time ever playing and they trusted me to lead the JV squad into getting wins. That was fun, and I think it helped me a lot in all sports.”

Now that lacrosse is over, Israel is starting to prepare for summer, which will include a lot of work to get ready for soccer.

He’ll also spend time working at Springfield Country Club, where he works as a busboy. He also started his own business that will only help him stay in shape. 

“I’ve started cutting grass and doing lawn care,” Israel said. “My mom had me do her lawn and I enjoyed it, so she bought me a lawnmower. It’s just Ralph’s Lawncare. 

“I love it, it’s a break from everything. I can work on my own time and I enjoy it. I love working by myself. It’s good work, too, I’m in the sun, so I get used to weather and I’m going up hills most of the time, so it keeps you in shape.”

He still has the rest of the school year to finish out, but he is getting excited about junior year, especially in soccer.

“I want to try my best to get All-Catholic,” Israel said. “I’m working hard for soccer season already. I work on that all the time. I really want to be All-Catholic in both sports in the rest of my seasons. And keep getting honors, and eventually get into the National Honor Society.”

But his ultimate goal? That’s to bring a trophy to Judge.

“A championship would mean everything,” he said. “I suited up for the varsity championship in soccer. I didn’t play, I was on the sidelines and I saw everyone’s faces. I felt so bad for the seniors. I learned a lot, how much communication means. And pick up your teammates even if they’re not doing their best. I want to win a championship at Judge. That’s my biggest goal, that’s what I really want to do.”

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