Those who knew Joe Ferriso best say the Hofstra University lacrosse player welcomed a challenge as much as he embraced life.
Early on, the unbending will of the 19-year-old from Copiague was apparent. He earned Eagle Scout honors, according to LaxLessons.com, a website covering youth lacrosse in the tri-state area.
At Kellenberg High School, he played on the soccer and lacrosse teams.
The Hofstra sophomore's life -- overflowing with potential in the eyes of people close to him -- ended Saturday, two days after the Jeep he was driving struck a tree in Copiague on Thursday, police said.
"It makes you realize how fragile life is," said John Fechtmann, Kellenberg High School's athletic director.
Suffolk police said the Jeep struck the tree at about 7:20 a.m. after leaving southbound Great Neck Road, less than a mile from Ferriso's home.
Ferriso, the lone occupant, was transported to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip. He died Saturday, school officials said.
In a statement, Hofstra's men's lacrosse team coach Seth Tierney had said, "Words can't describe the feeling of sorrow and sense of loss our team and the Hofstra Lacrosse family have at this time."
Fechtmann said Ferriso didn't make Hofstra's lacrosse team as a freshman. Instead he competed on the freshman club team and had said "what a great experience it was."
Ferriso eventually landed a spot on the Division I team.
"The tragedy is that he finally realizes his dream of playing Division I lacrosse. . . and unfortunately this," Fechtmann said.
Ferriso is survived by his parents, Debbie and Al Ferriso, and his sister, Amy.
Visiting hours are Wednesday and Thursday from 2 to 4:30 p.m. and 7 to 9:30 p.m. at D'Andrea Bros. Funeral Home, 99 Oak St., Copiague, the Hofstra release said. The funeral Mass will be offered Friday at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of Assumption Roman Catholic Church, 1 Molloy St., Copiague.
With Laura Figueroa