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Holy Trinity’s Dylan Villari: He scores goals, and he saves them

Holy Trinity's Dylan Villari, who plays both as

Holy Trinity's Dylan Villari, who plays both as the team's goalie and midfielder, poses at practice at Holy Trinity High School in Hicksville on May 14, 2016. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

What lacrosse position does Dylan Villari play? Stick around. It’s a trick question.

For most of the last two seasons, the Holy Trinity senior has been a midfielder. But for some games, Villari has reverted to his freshman and sophomore position of goalie and turned in his short stick for the longer goalie stick with a larger head and mesh.

That’s pretty rare, since the skill set for a goalie and a midfielder are quite different. Especially for an offensive-minded midfielder like Villari, who this season leads the CHSAA with 46 goals, yet doesn’t mind stopping shots instead of taking them for a game here or there.

But here’s why opponents sometimes do a double-take: Villari has, on occasion, made the position-and-stick switch in the same game!

“They always look a little shocked,” Villari said. “Attack men will start talking to me when I’m in net. They’ll ask me, ‘How are you a goalie?’”

How, indeed. After starting in goal for half the games his freshman season and part of his sophomore year, Villari said a senior goalie “got a lot better and played more than me.” Since he was a midfielder as a youngster, Villari volunteered to return to a more active position. “I was a little rusty but I’ve worked at it for three years,” he said.

The rust has long since worn off as Villari, a 6-2, 200-pounder who also was the Titans’ starting quarterback, is a prolific scorer . . . except when Holy Trinity coach Gene Isnardi needs him in the cage. “Wherever you tell him to go to help the team, he goes, ‘Okay. Whatever you need, Coach,’ ” Isnardi said. “Humble as the day is long. He’s a phenomenal athlete. He wins the sprints. He picks up the whole team in practice; he picks up the whole team in games.”

On April 8, Villari started in net against St. John the Baptist. He made 14 saves in a 12-9 defeat, scoring a goal when he switched to midfield to try to help the Titans rally. On April 11, Villari scored three goals with an assist in a 12-9 victory over defending state Class A CHSAA champion Kennedy Catholic, a game in which he also made four saves. “I put him in cage to seal the deal,” Isnardi said. “We’ve done that a couple of times. Nothing gets past him and you can’t stop him on a clear.”

Of being used as a closer late in tight games, Villari said, “I like the pressure and I handle it pretty well. My teammates have my back so even if I do lose the game (in goal) they wouldn’t blame me.”

He enjoys being moved around. “It’s fun and it keeps me on the field the whole game,” he said. “I’ll do whatever gives us the best chance to win. But I do love midfield the most.”

All this switching has produced a unique career stat line with two disparate milestones reached in a 16-9 victory over Freeport on April 21. Villari scored two goals, had three assists and made one save. “He got his 200th point and 100th save in that game,” Isnardi said. “I don’t know anybody that has ever done that.”

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