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Q&A with Paul Carcaterra of ESPN

Carc in action with the Orange!!

Since 2010, Paul Carcaterra has been sharing his wealth of lacrosse knowledge and insight on ESPN as a game analyst and sideline reporter. He has also been a studio analyst for ESPNU working NCAA lacrosse selection shows. When he’s not patrolling a lacrosse sideline or in the booth he’s covering college football for ESPN. Make no mistake about it though lacrosse is Paul’s wheelhouse and has been long before he ever started at ESPN.

Since he was ten years old, Paul has fueled his passion for this game by watching countless game videotapes and reading every media guide he could while growing up in the lacrosse hotbed of Yorktown, NY.  His passion for the game is clearly evident in every ESPN broadcast that he is a part of. Paul Carcaterra has become the face of NCAA lacrosse coverage in today’s game.

As a player, Paul was a three time state champion at Yorktown High School. He then helped lead Syracuse University to a 1995 National Championship, and was named All-American in 1997 for the Orange/  At the international level, Carcaterra played for Team England in the 1998 World Games. Paul recently took some time to sit down with us at Capital District Lax to look back on the 2017 season and look ahead for what’s in store for 2018.

MikeTesoriero: 2017 was an awesome lacrosse season, full of amazing moments week in and week out. For you personally, what was the BEST moment you experienced and why?

Paul Carcaterra: I would have to say Maryland winning the national championship was the best moment of 2017. You have to take into account that the Terps were 0-9 in championship games since 1975. They had a 40 year drought and from the beginning of the season I felt like this team had a great senior leadership class. They were destined to win after coming up short in there three previous Final Fours. John Tillman – their head coach is a great guy and put so much into his team. He lost his mother during the season and to see him win a championship after all the program had endured was great to see.

MT: The buzz all summer/fall/and even now has been mainly around one name and it’s Tehoka Nanticoke.  Never before have we expected a freshman’s arrival to have such an immediate impact on the D-I level. What do you think his arrival as the #1 recruit in the country for UAlbany will mean for them this season?

PC: Well for starters he gets an opportunity to play with who I think is the best player in College Lacrosse in Connor Fields. Connor is so smooth on the left side of the field and has become an elite passer in addition to being a lights out scorer. He will take a lot of pressure off of Tehoka. Tehoka being a righty balances the Albany offense with Fields on the left. I don’t want to put crazy expectations on him, however, I’ve never seen a freshman this ready to dominate college lacrosse. His stick skills are insane and he is so strong for such a young player. He’s basically a combination of Lyle and Miles Thompson. It’s a scary thought for the opposition to deal with him and Fields.

Click for UAlbany ticket info

MT: Scott Marr and his UAlbany Great Danes have high expectations this upcoming year coming off an NCAA first round home win vs UNC before falling to eventual National Champion Maryland. UAlbany is ranked in the Top 5 in both Inside Lacrosse poll and the Coaches Preseason poll. Hopes are high for a Final Four appearance which has eluded them so far. What do you see as the keys to success for the Danes to make it to the Final Four weekend?

PC: They have all the ingredients to make a run at a national championship. High paced offense, lethal scoring, one of the top face off men in college lacrosse in TD Ierlan, great athletes at the midfield, and a goalie who has proven to make big stops in JD. My only question is their team defense. Their defense is much improved over the years, however they’ve allowed teams to go on big runs in NCAA quarterfinal games. Think of Notre Dame in 2014 and last year Maryland. Can they make the big stops defensively is the question and not allow teams to go on runs.

MT: Last year at times the D-I game felt wide open at times. Anyone could beat anyone in any given game. Who’s your 2018 sleeper team to watch out for and why?

PC: I think Rutgers is a team to keep an eye on. Last year they lost to Maryland by one and beat Ohio State. They have the majority of their team back. On defense they will be a veteran group led by Michael Rexrode who might be the best defenseman in college lacrosse. I also like their goalie. They have a couple of proven attackmen as well, most notably Jules Henningberg who can do it all. My one question is midfield depth for the Scarlet Knights.

MT: Your alma mater Syracuse has two former Capital District players on the roster this year. Returning red shirt sophomore attackman Stephen Rehfuss (Shaker/Holy Cross ) and incoming freshman midfielder Lucas Quinn (Niskayuna). Tell us your thoughts on what impact they will have for the Orange this year.

Paul Carcaterra (far right) at Lake Placid with Burnt Orange in 2013. Pic from Inside Lacrosse.

PC: Rehfuss is Syracuse’s most dynamic offensive player. He is slippery, has good vision, and really can get separation from his defender. The Orange need him to play like an All-American to have any shot at a Final Four. The good news is he is that type of player. Lucas, I have seen a few times in high school. For a kid his age he shoots on the run with both hands at an elite level. A big-time player in the making. He might have some adjustments in terms of understanding next level offense and being a complementary player off the ball. He is used to being the man.

MT: A few weeks ago the US Lacrosse roster was announced for the upcoming 2018 FIL World Championships. Were there any big surprises for you with the roster? What are your thoughts on the makeup of this team and how they will do.

PC: I think John Danowski knows how to build team as well as anyone so I’m not going to second-guess too many of his decisions. I think he will be an awesome coach for our national team. The only surprises I had were Myles Jones not making the team, the lack of a true lefty finisher at Attack, and only two exclusive defenders (the majority of the long sticks have more experience playing up top). However, if you look at that roster it’s pretty stacked. Anytime you can have Jordan Wolf, Tommy Schreiber, Paul Rabil, and Rob Pannell out there at the same time nobody feels bad for you.

MT: In 1998 the tournament was held in Baltimore and you had the opportunity to play for Team England. How did that come to be and what was the experience like for you as a player in the World Championships?

PC: My mom was born in England and had dual citizenship. We have many relatives over there and always enjoyed spending time with them across the pond. My younger brother Brian and I outside of high school never really got a chance to play together. When the opportunity arose to play together on the national team we felt like it could be a good experience and we were right.

Click to check out Paul Carcaterra’s reLAXin’ interview series

MT: Your episodes of ReLAXIN are always fun and insightful. Can you give us a sneak peak as to who you hope to be driving around with this spring? You know we hope to see you in Albany with Tehoka!

PC: I love spending time with the players off the field. The relaxin series gives people a strong understanding as to who these players are when their helmets are off. The first person this year will be Michael Sowers from Princeton. I plan on making a trip out to Denver to spend time with Trevor Baptiste, and I will certainly be tracking Tehoka down. There will be around eight episodes this year.

MT: Chemistry on the field is just as important on the broadcast. Quint Kessenich, Anish Shroff, and yourself always seem to have tons of fun (usually at the expense of each other) what do you enjoy most about working with those guys week in and week out?

PC: The common denominator is we all love the sport. In the end we want to create the best atmosphere for the viewer. The fun and energy is real.  I for sure do not take myself overly serious. I do take my preparation seriously, but I think it’s important to have fun and for people to know that you are in a great spot. The access that we have and seeing the game from our vantage point is fascinating. I don’t shy away from that. Quint and Anish are great professionals but also two people who like to give me a hard time and I give it right back to them. We have a blast!

MT: As noted earlier in the intro you are viewed as one of the authorities on college lacrosse. You have said you got hooked when you were ten years old. You’re known for being at ESPN since 2010, but I remember hearing about your passion for the game back in 1991 at Herkimer when I played with your older brother Steve. There were many a practices/bus trips to games where we would discuss other players and Steve would always tell me how you could rattle off stats on kids in high school or other colleges. Back then, did you ever think you would be in the role you are today?

PC: I never really thought I would be announcing games for ESPN. That was never my end goal. When I was a kid I just wanted to be around the game as much as possible. With that said I absorbed every last bit of the game I could. When I was given an opportunity to be an analyst and work in TV, all of those years of being a sponge paid off, however that was never the intent. It is a perfect job for me because I love sports and my passion for lacrosse is just a strong today as it was as a kid.

MT: You grew up in such an amazing lacrosse community in Yorktown, NY. It has been a perennial power forever and has fed countless D-I  players to programs across the country. Talk about the culture of the program and what makes it so great.

Click for info on Carc’s Hometown Lacrosse Camp

PC: Yorktown is Lacrosse‘s version of an Indiana basketball town. Everyone has a common bond in the town when you pick up a lacrosse stick. There are no generation gaps when it comes to players who wear a Yorktown jersey. The culture in the community fully embraces Lacrosse. It has been the foundation for many amazing relationships for me and my family. If you play lacrosse in Yorktown you are in a fraternity for life and everyone helps each other out.

MT: You come from a great Lacrosse family. Your brothers and sister were always supported by your amazing parents (Larry and Diane). This past July, your younger brother Brian (former John’s Hopkins All American goalie) donated $50,000 to the US Lacrosse National campaign in memory of your late mother, who lost her battle with cancer in 2014. A section of seats at the US lacrosse Headquarters at Tierney Field was named for Diane Carcaterra. Tell me about what it meant to you and the support network you had coming up as a young lacrosse player.

PC: It made me realize that my brother has more money than me and I should never have to pick up a tab when going out to dinner with him. In all honesty though, it was an amazing contribution that Brian made on behalf of our mother. It was very touching and made me reflect on the support our mom always had for us in regards to our passion to play the game. My mom knew nothing about Lacrosse, but she loved the game because of the people that she met along the way and the experiences that it gave her sons. For that I know she was very grateful for having the sport come into our lives. My mom was an extremely caring person who I miss and think of every day. She knew how to make you feel great. Having her name at that stadium is something I am very proud of and thankful that Brian was able to do that.

Thanks for taking the time with us and we look forward to the first ESPNU broadcast!  For initial broadcast schedule info visit: Watch ESPN

Mike Tesoriero
Shaker graduate, Herkimer All-American Attackman 1991 & UAlbany Attackman 1993 Vice President Youth Revolution Lacrosse Program & coach