Like every other lacrosse player, Cory Capri always had a goal of playing Division I lacrosse at the collegiate level.
It’s a natural inclination to want to play at the highest level, the one that gets the most recognition, so Capri’s mindset of trying to reach that level was nothing new. He was so locked into that vision that he didn’t have much interest in anything else, even though many of the top Division II and III schools expressed significant interest.
“I always wanted to play Division I, and it took me a little while to get over that mindset,” Capri said. “I was ultimately able to do that, but it was a slow process of me thinking about it.”
It’s hard to fault a player for wanting to reach his goal, but even though Division I schools did pursue the Team 91 2020 Orange and Glenn attackman, he opened his eyes to options at other levels. Once he visited Amherst, the door to getting out of the Division-I-or-bust mindset opened a crack.
“I loved when I visited the campus, and the coaching staff was great,” Capri said. “The academic opportunities are amazing, and Coach (Jon) Thompson had a huge impact on me,” Capri said. “I saw the opportunity to make a four-year impact at one of the top academic institutions in the country.”
Oh, right, that. Amherst brought together a lot of the qualities that Capri was looking for, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better combination of elite academics and a high-level lacrosse program. The Mammoths reached last year’s Division III national championship game and had to beat conference rivals Tufts and Williams to get there, which showed how good the NESCAC is. U.S. News and World Report ranked Amherst as the No. 2 Liberal Arts College in the entire country. When Capri stepped back and looked at everything that the school had to offer, it was a no-brainer, and he opted to commit to Amherst’s admissions process. He’s the fourth ’20 Orange player to choose a school after Kyle Connor (Sachem East/Quinnipiac), Anthony Sand (St. Dominic/VMI) and Ronnie Durante (Lindenhurst/St. John’s) and he’s the first player in Team 91 history to choose Amherst.
“It’s an amazing opportunity,” Capri said. “When I visited, I didn’t know right away that it was the place for me, but I knew that I really liked it. Once I was open to looking at DIII, I knew it was the place for me. The level of lacrosse is very high and we can compete for a national championship every year. They played in front of 20,000 fans in the national title game. It’s so good academically, too, that it can help me a lot in the long run. I wanted to take it slow and not rush things, and I just figured that whatever happens, happens. I just had to weigh my options.”
An explosive X attackman who can almost always draw a quick slide when he dodges, Capri put forth a 65-point campaign as a sophomore and followed it up with 84 points this year, including 50 goals. He’s been the offensive bellcow for years for the ’20 Orange team, and this summer, he’s been a man on a mission, showing well at both individual showcases and in team events. Playing on the ’20 Orange squad has meant being coached by his dad, Jeff, who has helped keep his son driven throughout the process. It’s not always easy to play for your dad, but the Capris make it work.
“He’s been my coach all my life, and I take a lot from him,” the younger Capri said. “Him and my mom, Barbara, told me to work hard at everything I do and that you’re always only as good as the last time you step on the field.”
John Savage has been running the team’s offense for the past year, and in that time, the head coach at JUCO powerhouse Nassau Community College has seen Capri evolve into a top-flight prospect who’ll be capable of running the Amherst offense with the potential of blossoming into one of the top Division III players in the country.
“It’s been a pleasure to watch Cory grow as a player and person, and he has the skillset to make a monumental impact at Amherst,” Savage said. “He’s worked incredibly hard to get to this level, and you can’t ask for a much better combination of academics and high-level lacrosse than Amherst. He’s going to do well on and off the field as a Mammoth, and we’re excited to see what he has in store.”
Good thing he finally opened his eyes to the Division III level, right?