Lehigh men’s lacrosse lands transfer from national champion

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Junior midfielder Alexander Tumminello joins the Lehigh Mountain Hawks men’s lacrosse team. Tumminello previously played for the University of Maryland Terrapins who won the 2017 NCAA Championship. (Courtesy of University of Maryland Terrapins website)

No regrets.

Transferring from a school that just won the NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Championship in spring 2017 may have left another student with feelings of regret, but not junior midfielder Alex Tumminello.

While Tumminello decided to transfer halfway through his college lacrosse career, he said his transition to Lehigh has been seamless and he knows he made the right decision to come play for the university.

Tumminello spent his first two years of college playing lacrosse for the University of Maryland Terrapins. During his two years as a Terrapin, he experienced both a Maryland loss in the championships as well as the team’s first championship win since 1975. The win concluded his second and final year playing for the team.

Tumminello said winning the championship was a one-of-a-kind experience and was only possible because of all the hard work the team put in following its 2016 championship loss.

Although the Terrapins became national champions, Tumminello said the school’s program was no longer working for him.

He said the system Maryland ran was one of its own and was more calculated than anything. As a Florida native, Tumminello said it was hard to adjust to Maryland’s style of play because Florida isn’t the “hotbed” of lacrosse.

“I just didn’t really see growth there anymore, I couldn’t really thrive there,” Tumminello said. “I tried for two years and I had a great two years and learned invaluable lessons. Obviously winning a national championship is great and everything, and hopefully I can take the lessons I learned there and apply them here. Hopefully I can succeed.”

Tumminello said Lehigh appealed to him because the school’s lacrosse program is based on passing, free-flowing offense and a faster pace, all of which he was accustomed to from playing lacrosse in high school and are what he loves.

Finding a school where education was a top priority, especially to student athletes, was essential for Tumminello. He described Lehigh as a “hidden Ivy League” school and believes a Lehigh education is highly respected. Tumminello said Lehigh can help him lacrosse-wise and in his professional career. He also thinks it’s a place where he can find success.

Not only did Tumminello transfer to what he believes to be one of the best schools in the nation, but in the process he also gained 50 new brothers whom he said he “jumped right in with,” with no problems at all.

“Great kids, great boys,” Tumminello said. “I can’t wait to get on the field with them and see what happens.”

Tumminello said he already sees a lot of similarities between Maryland and Lehigh, because both teams are blue-collar and hard-working.

“I think my lacrosse IQ that I learned at Maryland has definitely grown my game,” Tumminello said, “and hopefully I can translate that more to a fast-paced offense and see how those two really compliment each other.”

Junior defender Craig Chick said the team doesn’t receive transfers often and Tumminello was the first in Chick’s time at Lehigh.

Chick said one day he received an unexpected text from a Florida number. It was Tumminello, telling him they’d be living together. Chick said ever since Tumminello moved in, they’ve become close friends and describes him as “one of the boys.”

“It’s a big strength of (the team) that we are so close-knit,” Chick said. “You just kind of hang out with some of your best friends.”

Chick said after he learned Tumminello was transferring from Maryland, the team was “pretty pumped” and got a text from coach Kevin Cassese reading, “the kid can play.”

Cassese wrote in an email he had noticed Tumminello on the recruiting circuit when he was a high school prospect. He also wrote he was impressed with his athleticism and ability at the time, so when Tumminello reached out to Cassese over the summer as a potential transfer, Cassese recognized his name immediately and knew he would be a solid addition to the team.

“After speaking to his coach at Maryland and spending some time with Alex on the phone and in person, I realized he would be a good fit for our program and a good fit for Lehigh,” Cassese wrote. “Alex is a terrific young man and we are excited to welcome him into our program.”

Chick said the team lacked a separation guy with a quick move to create on offense last year, and he’s hoping Tumminello can be that guy.

“I think for the first time in the two years I’ve been doing this, this is our best chance of fighting for the Patriot League Championship,” Chick said, “and we wholeheartedly believe that.”

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