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MIAA rivals Jack Pezzulla, Bryan Costabile will be teammates on national team after high school season ends

Boys' Latin goalie Jack Pezzulla and Mount Saint Joseph midfielder Bryan Costabile have become friends.

Boys' Latin goalie Jack Pezzulla is excited about the prospects of his promising senior year, but there's one thing he would like to avoid.

He can see it now, going back to his experiences from the past two seasons in the Lakers' goal: Mount Saint Joseph standout midfielder Bryan Costabile with the ball and barreling through full speed to the cage.

"Oh my," Pezzulla says. "Typical Bryan Costabile move. Out in the alley, sweeps around to the middle, breaks through two defenders, and just fires …"

He shakes his head and smiles: "Straight down the middle, 100 miles per hour. It's like, How am I supposed to save this shot? It's a credit to him. He's such a great player."

The respect is mutual. Costabile says he has to place any shot perfectly or else Pezzulla will be sure to make the save: "He's that quick and good in goal."

The two will play against each other at least two more games in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference, a third should their teams meet in the postseason. After that, they will become teammates this summer as members of the U.S. Under-19 Men's National Team.

Invitations were sent to 400 college and high school players with 108 selected to try out for the teams last summer. After four camps and a series of cuts over eight months, the 25-man roster was selected to compete at the Federation of International Lacrosse [FIL] World Championships, set to run from July 7-16 in Coquitlam, British Columbia.

Costabile and Pezzulla, who was one of two players selected as an alternate, are 10 high school players to make the squad, run by Ohio State coach Nick Myers. Receiving the good news phone calls from Myers was one of the best surprises both either experienced.

"It was a really big shock, honestly," said Costabile, who has committed to Notre Dame. "I knew it was going to be a real struggle even from 108 because everyone was so talented and I was just one of the bunch. But coming out of it, it was awesome to get that recognition and notice that I had made the team."

In Costabile, who scored 54 goals and added 11 assists in earning All-Metro, second-team honors for the Gaels last season, Myers saw a player that was tough, versatile and coachable. For Team USA, Costabile will be more of a defensive midfielder.

As for Pezzulla, who played a key role in the Lakers' national championship team during his sophomore year and backed it up with a fine junior season, Myers saw a good teammate with quality leadership skills, soft hands and the championship pedigree.

One other trait stuck out.

"They're probably a little more mature than most young men that I've worked with at that age — I was really impressed with both of them," Myers said. "It was a very tough decision for us to take the young guys over the older guys, but we were just looking for the best pieces and, in both cases, we felt like they were guys we had to have."

The two have become close friends through the experience of making the national team and look forward to sharing what lies ahead in the summer.

But right now, they are focused on leading their respective teams in their senior years and the friendship will take a brief hiatus every time they go against each other.

Pezzulla, set to play at North Carolina, is the defensive backbone for the No. 3 Lakers, who are a perennial power always in the mix for the league crown.

"I've been looking up to our seniors since my sophomore year — the national championship season — and I've just been waiting for my time to show my leadership abilities and be able to lead a team all the way to May," Pezzulla said. "It's awesome. We're just excited to get the season going."

As for Costabile, the youngest of four brothers who all played at Mount Saint Joseph, the No. 7 Gaels have missed the playoffs his first three years on varsity. He wants to change that with the help of a promising cast under second-year coach Stephen Berger.

"All of us are determined — we want to make the playoffs at least," Costabile said. "I've been stressing it not just going to two hours of practice. … You have to put in the extra work — shooting after practice, 15 minutes of wall ball. You have to do the little things so we can progress as a team."

glenn.graham@baltsun.com

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