From Shaker HS to Syracuse!!
Each Spring we get ready for another lacrosse season here in the Capital District and luckily we always have some local 518 athletes to follow at the D-1 level. Last year we saw Niskayuna’s Luke Goldstock close out his great career at North Carolina, while his former teammate Mike D’Amario finishes his career at Virginia this spring.
The 518 area will now have another local product to root for. Former Shaker standout attackman Stephen Rehfuss is back to to help Syracuse make a run at another NCAA title.
Stephen Rehfuss left his mark on the Shaker High School lacrosse record book from 2012-2015 as a four year Varsity player. He ended up being the program’s all time leading scorer in total points with 319. Rehfuss finished number one in assists (164) and number two in goals with 155. He helped lead the Blue Bison to Suburban Council Division Championships in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Rehfuss enrolled at Holy Cross following his graduation from high school. While at Holy Cross, he decided to red shirt, and last year transferred to perennial power Syracuse University. He played in all 16 games for the Orange and scored 25 points with 12 goals and 13 assists. Now Rehfuss is back with a D-1 season under his belt and is ready to help the Orange get back to the NCAA Tournament. With the upcoming season about to get underway, Stephen took some time out to catch up with us here at Capital District Lax.
Mike Tesoriero: What was it like to be able to play all four years of high school at the Varsity level at Shaker? What did you personally learn most playing under Coach Hennessey for those four years?
Stephen Rehfuss: I loved my four years playing at Shaker under Coach Hennessey. Making varsity and being a starter as a ninth grader was always one of my goals growing up so I was very thankful for the opportunity. I think the most valuable thing that Coach Hennessey gave me was confidence. I was five feet tall and maybe a hundred pounds my freshman year of high school but Coach Hennessey along with the assistants did not let that get in the way of me playing and becoming a starter.
MT: Your Senior year in 2015 you were named a High School All American posting single season scoring records for assists (80) and total points (128). You also had a single game record of 15 points. What was your favorite memory from your senior year at Shaker?
SR: Beating Shen in the sectional semifinals was my favorite memory from that year. In my four years that was the first time we had ever beaten them. I think our senior class and that game in particular left a mark on the program that has helped elevate them further into the team they are now.
MT: Upon Graduating from Shaker you attended Holy Cross. How did you choose Holy Cross, and what other schools were you considering? Why did you choose to leave Holy Cross and redshirt to play elsewhere?
SR: The only offer I had coming out of high school was Holy Cross. Holy Cross is a great academic school and I was trying to find the best fit of academics and athletics and at the time it seemed like the right choice. During November of my freshman year at Holy Cross I decided it was not the right fit for me and I got my release from the team. I got my release this early so that I would not lose any eligibility. I immediately started contacting other schools and kind of started the recruiting process all over again. Just when I thought I wasn’t going to be picked up, I got a call from Syracuse. I ended up committing in January. I actually spent the rest of the year at Holy Cross as a regular student not playing lacrosse. It was definitely an interesting semester and being away from the game and a team for that long was tough at times, but knowing I was going to Syracuse with four years of eligibility made it all worthwhile.
MT: Making the jump to a school like Syracuse from Holy Cross is huge. You proved you could play with the upper echelon boys of D-1 last year when given the opportunity. What was it like when you first took the field as a Syracuse Orangeman?
SR: Taking the field for the first time in a Syracuse uniform was a dream come true for me. I think any kid that grows up playing lacrosse has always dreamed of playing in the Dome for such a prestigious program.
MT: Your team last year was 13-3 and known as the “Cardiac Kids“ with 10+ games decided by a single goal wins vs UAlbany, UVA, Notre Dame, St. Johns, and Yale in regulation; and Hopkins, Duke, and North Carolina in OT! What was is about the makeup of your team last year that allowed you guys to be so successful in crunch time?
SR: I think the biggest thing for us last year was being mentally tough and resilient. We never counted ourselves out of a game and we knew we had the players that could deliver down the stretch.
MT: You had probably your biggest shining moment of the season in the Yale game at the Carrier Dome on May 14th when you scored the game winning goal with 2:00 minutes to play in the contest. What was it like for you to be able to experience that win – in that building, in front of that crowd?
SR: That game was awesome. The entire game was back and forth and it came down to the wire. Playing in the Dome in front of our fans is always an unreal experience, but with that game being the first round of the NCAA tournament there was that added excitement because it was win or go home.
MT: Many of the heroes from last year have moved on. Your team will have a much different look this spring losing goalie Evan Malloy, midfielders Sergio Salcido and Nick Mariano, and attackman Jordan Evans to graduation. Fellow attackman Gale Thorpe also decided to transfer to Ohio State this summer. What does the incoming class look like? What are you most excited about with this group?
SR: Losing guys like them is always tough. They were all great leaders and players and they will definitely be missed. I think the incoming class we have is going to make an immediate impact on the field. They’re a very talented and athletic group. We will definitely be young in some areas of the field but I’m excited to see how some players will emerge as the season goes on.
MT: You do have another fellow Section II teammate on the squad this year in Niskayuna’s Lucas Quinn at midfield. You get to play together this spring which is pretty cool. Have you guys been able to hang out and work together? What advice were you able to give to the incoming freshman as he adapts to his new home as you did last year?
SR: Being able to play and hang out off the field with Lucas this fall and now starting the spring has been awesome. We shot and ran together a lot this summer and I tried to give him tips on what to expect when he got here in the fall. One thing I try to tell a lot of the freshman that I was told last year was to just keep trying to get better and improve every day and you’ll get your chance.
MT: Syracuse had a limited Fall Ball this year due to the outbreak of mumps on campus which caused the remainder of the season to be cancelled. You missed being able to scrimmage Team Israel and the Iroquois Nationals in the Dome, and the remaining practices were cancelled also. With the limited time you guys did have- do you feel you guys were able to gel as a team as most teams do in fall ball and get to see all the incoming players in their new capacity?
SR: We actually ended up being able to get most of the practices back before winter break which was very helpful. Missing the scrimmages probably had the biggest impact on us just because we did not get to play someone with a different jersey, but we have three or four scrimmages before our first game so we will be fine.
MT: Coach John Desko has been around the game for a long time and is so well respected by his former players and opponents. What was it like playing for Coach Desko last year and what do you like most about his coaching/playing style?
SR: Playing for Coach Desko and the entire coaching staff here at Syracuse is awesome. They have all been around the game for a long time so they know everything there is to know about every aspect of the game. My favorite part about playing for Coach Desko and the rest of the coaching staff is definitely how they create an atmosphere where everyone is excited to go to practice everyday. The coaches obviously hold us to a high standard but they also let us be creative and try new things all the time.
MT: Lacrosse is pretty big in your family and you are not the only Rehfuss to play Division 1 lacrosse. You have five sisters many of which play(ed) lacrosse at schools like Loyola (Abigail) and Princeton (Caroline). What impact did your sisters have on you choosing a school like Syracuse to showcase your talents. I imagine there are a lot of family dinners/get together where lacrosse is the topic of conversation at the Rehfuss house.
SR: Lacrosse is definitely always one of the main topics talked about at home. Having five older sisters and four that played competitively, we are always talking lacrosse. My sisters are actually the reason why I play lacrosse. I always looked up to them so whatever sports they were playing I wanted to play as well. They were most interested in lacrosse so I was too. When I decided to go to Syracuse my sisters and my parents were all really supportive. They try to make it to every game that they can and Syracuse is their new team to root for. Growing up I would always go to all of their games so it’s fun to see it come full circle.
Capital District Lax would like to thank Stephen again for his time. The Orange open their season versus Binghamton on Saturday February 10. Followed by a showdown with UAlbany the following week on February 17. As a Shaker and UAlbany Alum it will make the game that much more exciting for me. I’ll definitely be pulling for YOU, but I’m still wearing my purple! 😉
We wish you the best of luck on this upcoming season & continue to make the 518 lax community proud!