VOORHEES – Apparently there’s a toggle switch involved.
You’re oversimplifying the problem if you ask Senior Braden Travaglini from the East if he’s a football player or a lacrosse player at heart.
He’ll say lacrosse. Next year he’s going to Mercer County Community College to pursue the sport.
But it is not that easy. There is some overlap in skills between the two sports. Watch him battle for groundballs and your reaction might be, “This guy plays like a linebacker.”
And you will be right.
Watch him find the empty pocket in an opposing defense, sit and wait for his opportunity, and you might say, “That’s a wide receiver move.”
All of these things happen on a lacrosse field.
“They overlap a lot. There’s a lot of eye-hand coordination going on between the lacrosse and the receiver game,” Travaglini said. “There are many sharp cuts to open. You have to be able to catch in tight spots.”
It also takes a certain mentality to fight those loose balls.
“It’s one of those things where you just have to flip that switch and turn on that killer mentality,” Travaglini said. “You want to do whatever it takes to get the ball back for your team.”
He has 20 goals and nine assists for the Vikings this season and that contribution is welcome – but what he does near the midfield strip drives the team.
“Braden Travaglini is our workhorse,” said Eastern coach Shane Flannery. “He has a ‘first in, last out’ mentality. He’s everything you’d expect from a player that not many teams see. Everyone will be looking out for the other guys on our team and Travaglini will be the one eating you up.”
Travaglini scored twice in Wednesday’s 13-2 win over Egg Harbor Township in the first round of South Jersey’s Group 4 playoff game. The first came after just 46 seconds and shaped the game. Eastern was 10-0 up after Max Jacobs’ goal with 3:40 left in the first half and Flannery had to miss a run from some benchers.
A quarterfinalist for the first time since 2018, Eastern will host Middlesex County’s Monroe Township on Saturday. Egg Harbor Township finished the season 8-8.
Travaglini said he plans to study digital film and film production in college.
“It was between that and being a teacher, but both my parents are teachers,” Travaglini said. “They say the next generation of kids is getting worse and worse, so I think I’ll go to the movies and make some money on the side.”
Even as he demonstrates that there are some really good kids getting through school now.
“He’s the most consistent guy — you know what you can get out of him,” Flannery said. “Often he scores the first goal of the game, like he did today, and really gets it going for everyone else. He is our best player that nobody knows.”
Travaglini likes to be this guy and works on it, on the field, in the team huddle, and wherever the team is around.
“I feel like a team is just built around being with the guys you play with,” he said. “The only thing I like to do is hang out with the guys I’m going to play with. It builds a bond and it builds a lot of trust and chemistry. It makes playing on the field easier to just be friendly and be with everyone. It’s really easy.”
John A. Lewis is a sportswriter for the Burlington County Times, Courier Post and The Daily Journal. Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @JohnLewis19. Please consider supporting local journalism with a subscription.