DelcoReviewSummer2017 - 16


Printed in part with permission by Bill Wagner, Contact Reporter,
Capital Gazette

Yes, that is Delaware County Court of Common
Pleas Judge John Capuzzi's daughter, Navy
assistant Gabby Capuzzi, helping to develop
lacrosse in Italy...
Navy women's lacrosse assistant coach Gabby Capuzzi
competed for Team Italy in the 2017 FIL Rathbones Women's
Lacrosse World Cup in Guildford, England. The World Cup took
place at Surrey Sports Park through July 22, 2017.
Gabby Capuzzi figured her lacrosse-playing days were over
when she completed a stellar career at Ohio State. The Pennsylvania native got into coaching and has steadily risen in the collegiate ranks, spending the last three years as the top assistant at
the Naval Academy.
Capuzzi certainly could not have imagined competing in the
Federation of International Lacrosse World Cup at the age of 27.
However, the former All-American also never considered that
Italy would take up the sport of women's lacrosse.
So it was that Capuzzi was sparking the offense as Team Italy
made its World Cup debut by beating Hong Kong, 12-10 at Surrey Sports Park. Capuzzi showed she still has the stick skills by
scoring five goals for the Italian contingent.
Indeed, Capuzzi's role as a coach - for two years at her alma
mater before coming to Annapolis - has kept her intimately close
to the game. She has played an instrumental role in recruiting
and as defensive coordinator for Navy, which made a remarkable
run to the national semifinals this past spring.
It's somewhat ironic that Navy knocked off Massachusetts
in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Penn Park in
Philadelphia. It was UMass head coach Angela McMahon that
helped found Team Italy and recruited Capuzzi to play for one of
the world's newest lacrosse nations.
McMahon and her husband, Amherst College men's soccer
head coach Justin Serpone, concocted the idea of bringing women's lacrosse to Italy after seeing the country had a men's team
competing at the 2014 FIL World Championships in Denver.
"We're all dedicated to expanding the game and hoping it
eventually becomes an Olympic sport. That's a good possibility
if enough countries start playing," McMahon said. "Italy already
had a lacrosse federation and some infrastructure from having
started a men's program. It made sense for the country to support
women's lacrosse as well."
McMahon and Serpone contacted the proper authorities in
Italy and the movement grew organically from there. Because
there are no established players in the country, organizers agreed
to allow Americans with Italian heritage to play for the national
team. "We decided that, at a minimum, your grandparents had to
be born in Italy," McMahon said.
Capuzzi, whose grandparents emigrated from the Chieti re-

16 | Summer 2017

gion of Italy, found out she qualified and decided to attend the
inaugural Team Italy tryout, held three years ago in New Jersey.
She has traveled to Italy twice since then for a couple of training trips and to help coach players with a pair of club programs
based in Milan and Rome. "It's a growing sport over there and
we have been trying to teach the basic skills and fundamentals
to those Italians that have shown interest," said Capuzzi, adding
that she has helped McMahon and Sherpone conduct numerous
youth camps and clinics in the country.
Capuzzi spent three years working to obtain Italian citizenship, filling out all sorts of paperwork and ultimately meeting
with officials at the Italian Consulate in Philadelphia. Now she is
one of six Americans on Team Italy, which also features a pair of
high-profile imports in former Duke attacker Karen Maurer and
current Virginia midfielder Daniela Kelly.
"I am honored to be part of the first-ever Italian National
Team and thrilled to be competing at the World Cup," Capuzzi
said. "I cannot wait to get back out on the field and compete at
the highest level against the best players in the world. It is exciting to think that this World Cup could set the stage for lacrosse to
join the Olympics. I am very fortunate to be a part of something
so incredible and so historic."
Capuzzi traveled to Milan in January for a training session
with the newly-formed national team and was impressed by how
far the newcomers have come in such a short time. "It's been
really neat to see the improvement of the Italian players, most
of whom had never seen a lacrosse game or picked up a stick
until a few years ago," Capuzzi said. "Obviously, the goal is to
eventually have Italy field a team filled entirely with natives and
without any Americans."
Having a player and coach with the pedigree of Capuzzi involved with the program has been a godsend for McMahon, who
gained a talented player and an assistant coach at the same time.
"Getting someone like Gabby onboard is sort of a dream," McMahon said. "We really hit the trifecta with Gabby because she
is a phenomenal player, a phenomenal coach and a phenomenal
Capuzzi was a four-year letter winner at Ohio State, leading
the team in goals (42), draw controls (52), ground balls (38) and
caused turnovers (31) as a senior in 2012. A product of Philadelphia Catholic League powerhouse Archbishop Carroll, the
dynamic 5-foot-7 midfielder set the Buckeyes career record with
166 draw controls.
"Gabby has totally bought into Team Italy and has been really
motivated to help get things off the ground," McMahon said. "At
this stage of its development, the Italian national team needs people who can wear different hats and Gabby has been a huge asset
in sort of a player-coach role. I trust her implicitly to instruct the
other players."



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