Thomas Jack of Kellenberg scores during the CHSAA Class AA...

Thomas Jack of Kellenberg scores during the CHSAA Class AA boys lacrosse state final against Stepinac on Sunday. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

Every time the Kellenberg boys lacrosse team geared up and stepped onto the field this season, they were playing for something bigger.

After senior teammate Christopher Battaglia passed away in January, the Firebirds have created a sense of family among each other.

Their strong friendship and resilience showed when they fell, 13-10, to Archbishop Stepinac in the CHSAA Division AA state championship on Sunday.

The Firebirds trailed 11-6 going into the final quarter, but they weren’t ready to give up.

“Even when we’re down, we fight back until the very end,” senior co-captain Michael Felicetti said. “It’s as simple as that.”

Back-to-back goals by senior Thomas Jack and one from senior Jack Crotty brought it to a two-point game with three and a half minutes to go.

Stapinac’s PJ Hodge responded, but just 30 seconds later, Jack was able to find the back of the net once again and bring it to 12-10. A goal from Aiden Bross sealed Stepinac’s win.

Although they fell short, the Firebirds fought until the final whistle was blown. They finish the season 7-10.

Jack finished with six goals and two assists, senior co-captain Mike Anzelone had two goals and one assist and Felicetti had three assists. Senior goalie Chris Lamoreaux made 10 saves. Stepinac’s PJ Hodge scored six goals.

“Any other team could have easily just given up,” coach Kevin Fechtmann said. “They didn’t want that. They wanted to fight all the way through, and that’s exactly what they did.”

With “Battaglia” written on their warm-up jerseys, and the initials CB painted onto their home field, every practice and every game is dedicated to Christopher.

“We’re playing for Chris,” Fechtmann said. “Our mantra since his passing is that we are all a family.”

“Even though today ended in a loss, family is what it’s all about,” Felicetti said. “These are my brothers, I’ve made best friends for life.”

Anzelone hasn’t taken a minute of playing with his team for granted.

“Instead of complaining that we have to go out and play in the heat, it’s now like, I’m lucky to go out there with my brothers and do what we love,” Anzelone said.

Fechtmann said that the relationships built on this team will last a lifetime.

“I still keep in contact with alumni, they always want to come back and be a part of this team,” Fechtmann said. “It’s a life-long commitment. Once you’re here, you’re a Firebird forever.”


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