A football and lacrosse star at Needham High and The Boston Globe’s 2014 public school Male Athlete of the Year, Mike Panepinto is now a junior and leading goal scorer on the Brown University lacrosse team.
None was more timely than his unassisted tiebreaking goal with 14 seconds to play March 31, lifting Brown over Princeton, 14-13. The 5-foot-11-inch, 190-pound midfielder followed that up with a pair of goals and an assist April 7 when Brown defeated Penn, 10-9.
Panepinto, 21, a business entrepreneurship and organizational studies major, had 19 goals and nine assists through nine games. Brown was 5-4 overall (2-1 Ivy) prior to its April 14 league match with Yale.
“Mike’s always working on his game and will do anything to make a play for his team,’’ said Brown head coach Mike Daly. “He’s a throwback kind of player and a joy to be around.’’
Panepinto, who also attended Phillips Andover Academy, scored a career-best 25 goals last season. He garnered numerous honors while at Needham High, where he holds the football program’s career rushing and scoring records and was a lacrosse All-American.
At Hamilton College, his father, Joe, played football and lacrosse and his mother, Cristine, was on the women’s lacrosse team. Panepinto’s sister, Samantha, played lacrosse at Swarthmore College and his brother, Nico, was lacrosse captain at Fairfield University.
Q. What was behind your decision to play college lacrosse instead of football?
A. I had every intention of playing college football going into my postgrad year at Andover. I had been recruited by Ivy League schools for football, but they wanted to see me play at Andover. However, I already had concrete offers from Ivy schools to play lacrosse and did not want to risk not getting a football offer.
Q. In what ways has football made you a better lacrosse player?
A. From a physical standpoint, there’s a lot of crossover, so moves, like footwork, come into play. Also, I try to carry over the focus and intensity of football.
Q. What was your introduction to lacrosse?
A. I have a picture of me in diapers holding a lacrosse stick. My first real experience was while a third-grader in Holliston when I practiced with my brother Nico’s town team, coached by our dad.
Q. What are your thoughts about the great finish against Princeton?
A. I was just ready to execute what our coaches had drawn up. It was my shot that won it, but that entire game was a team effort. It was great to see some of the younger players step up and also make big plays.
Q. What was your most special moment as an athlete at Needham High?
A. My junior year, when we won the Thanksgiving football game against Wellesley. The atmosphere was unreal, nearly 10,000 people at our field. It was Nico’s last game and it was great to see him go out on top. He was a wide receiver and a cornerback and a great leader.
Q. What has been your parents’ influence?
A. They never pushed me to do one thing or the other. But they’ve always been supportive no matter what path I’ve chosen, which has motivated me.
Q. Do you miss football?
A. Although I hope to win a national lacrosse championship at Brown and that’s my focus, I’ve been thinking of playing football as a graduate student, but that process is in the very early stages.
Q. You missed by one goal of winning the Ivy League title and going to the Division 1 NCAA lacrosse tournament last season. How has that motivated you?
A. The first thing coach Daly did in the pre-season was show us the tape of that loss to Yale. He pointed out the little plays we were capable of making but did not. That has been my – and our team’s – primary focus, taking care of the fundamentals.Marvin Pave can be reached at email@example.com.