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Needham’s Mike Panepinto commits to Brown, for lacrosse

Panepinto makes switch to Brown

Initially, as a sophomore at Needham High, Mike Panepinto (inset) verbally committed to play lacrosse at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

But as time passed, his options increased, and attending an Ivy League school became a goal.

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Now the two-sport standout, who graduated from Needham High this spring, has committed to play lacrosse at Brown University, where he plans to enroll in the fall of 2015.

In the meantime, Panepinto will attend Phillips Academy in Andover as a postgraduate, and will continue to play football and lacrosse.

Brown men’s lacrosse coach Lars Tiffany, who scouted Panepinto during the regular season this spring and at an all-star game last month at Boston University, confirmed he has actively recruited the Globe’s 2013-14 public school Male Athlete of the Year.

“I’m relieved and happy, but not going to UMass was a tough decision,” said Panepinto, who withdrew his commitment in December.

“Their coaching staff was disappointed, but wished me well. Going to an Ivy League school had been a goal of mine. When I decommitted from UMass I was open to play football, and at the time I didn’t think lacrosse would be an option.

“So I was fortunate that Brown had a spot open on the lacrosse team’’ for the class of 2019, “and that it could be my path to an Ivy League education.’’ He added, “I’ve improved my ACT scores and had all A’s or A-minus my final semester at Needham High.’’

He said his first priority at Phillips Academy will be to adjust to a college-like environment and become a more efficient student.

Last fall on the gridiron, Panepinto led Division 2 with a school-record 27 touchdowns, seven more than any player in the division. A running back and safety, he rushed for 1,754 yards on 187 carries and finished his career as Needham’s all-time leading rusher (4,048 yards) and scorer (55 TDs).

He was also a two-time Bay State Conference lacrosse all-star, and was the league MVP this spring after a 101-point season (63 goals, 38 assists) as a midfielder.

“I also want to get bigger and stronger,’’ added the 6-foot, 180-pound Panepinto, who is working this summer as a lifeguard at the Boston Sports Club in Wellesley.

He’s also working out on the lacrosse field with his brother Nico, a rising sophomore at Fairfield University, and playing in a box lacrosse league in Wilmington run by Phillips Academy boys’ lacrosse coach Steve Moreland.

Panepinto was introduced to lacrosse by his parents when the family lived in Holliston.

As a first-grader, he practiced with his brother’s youth team, which was coached by their father, Joe Panepinto, who played football and lacrosse at Hamilton College.

“His mom and I are really proud of how he’s handled the situation and given himself more options,’’ Joe said. “Mike has really buckled down.’’

His mother, Cristine, coached in the Holliston girls’ youth program, and was the girls’ freshman lacrosse coach at Holliston High when the couple’s oldest child, Samantha, was a ninth-grader.

Samantha went on to play for the women’s lacrosse squad at Swarthmore College. The family moved to Needham when Mike was entering his freshman year of high school.

“I loved the physicality of football and playing under the lights before big crowds at home and running the ball,’’ he said, “and on the lacrosse field, I enjoyed being creative as a scorer and moving the ball and dodging a defender.’’

Would there be time for both in college?

“It’s been done before at Brown,’’ said Panepinto. “But I’m not thinking about it now.

“That’s more than a year away, and I have a lot of work ahead of me at Andover.’’

D’Argento to join
West Point staff

Ashland’s Nicole D’Argento, who put together her finest season in a Boston College softball uniform as a senior this spring, has been hired as an assistant softball coach at the US Military Academy.

D’Argento, a pitcher who also played the infield, helped the Eagles post their first 30-win season since 2008. She won a career-high 18 games with a team-best 2.70 earned run average. At the plate, she had a .415 on-base percentage, and was second on the team with 41 walks and 26 runs batted in.

A redshirt graduate student who missed the 2013 season, D’Argento graduated from BC’s Woods School of Administrative Studies in May.

“As a student-athlete she did it all,’’ said Army head softball coach Michelle DePolo. “Nicole is a true student of the game, and has been as diligent as possible during her playing career to prepare herself for a coaching career.’’

D’Argento was a pitching sensation at Ashland High, and was a Globe and Gatorade Player of the Year.

Here and there

Southern Connecticut senior running back John Moscatel of Lexington has been named a repeat preseason All-American by USA College Football, and a preseason Northeast-10 All-Conference player by the Beyond Sports Network. He led the NE-10 with 1,070 rushing yards last fall, and was third with 10 touchdowns. . .  Mount Ida College quarterback Jawad Yatim of Shrewsbury was also picked as a preseason All-American by USA College Football. Last fall, in his first year at the Newton school, he completed 144 passes for 1,889 yards and 15 touchdowns. Those totals moved him among the school’s top-three career leaders in both categories. . . Bentley University rising senior Alex Grieve took part in the New York Islanders’ NHL Development Camp earlier this month. The Calgary native was invited to the camp after collecting 25 goals and 22 assists for the Falcons last season.

Marvin Pave can be reached at marvin.pave@rcn.com.
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