Since he started playing on travel lacrosse teams in sixth grade, Southold’s Max Kruszeski has dreamed of playing for a Division I college.
As an eighth-grader, he joined the combined Mattituck and Southold varsity team, quickly showing the kind of promise that made playing at the next level more than just a dream. As each season has passed, the talented midfielder who can do a bit of everything on the field has continued to get better and better.
And on Thursday afternoon, Kruszeski officially signed a National Letter of Intent to play lacrosse at Marquette University in the Big East Conference.
“It’s been something I really worked my entire life for,” Kruszeski said.
He becomes the first Southold player to sign for a Division I lacrosse school. Friends, family and coaches gathered in the high school auditorium as Kruszeski for the ceremony. As he posed for photos, friends urged him to wear the Marquette hat that had been placed on the table. He happily obliged.
Kruszeski said when he visited Marquette in Milwaukee, Wisc., he felt an instant connection.
“I really loved and felt at home,” he said. “Everything felt right about it.”
Marquette is a relatively new program in Division I, having played its first regular season in 2013 and played in the Big East the following year. Success has come quickly. By 2016 the Golden Eagles recorded their first win against a top-1o team. They went on to win the Big East Tournament title that season by beating the No. 1 ranked team in the country at the time, Denver.
Mattituck/Southold coach John Amato said he couldn’t have picked a better school for Kruszeski to land at.
“I think Max is going to go in and compete right away,” Amato said.
Kruszeski helped lead the lacrosse team to its best finish ever last spring when the Tuckers advanced to the Class D state semifinals.
Amato said Kruszeski has always been a team player who looks to get his teammates involved.
“He can pass, he can score, he can play defense, he guards the other team’s best player,” he said. “If he could play goalie, he probably would.”
Before he can start the next chapter of his life, Kruszeski is focused on the current basketball season and one more run at lacrosse in high school this spring. The goal this spring will be to get back to the state final four again.
“I think we have a group of guys who are dedicated enough and who want it enough to go that far again,” he said.