There will be lacrosse after high school for Dale Alto.
Ocean Township High School’s rising senior midfielder has verbally committed to play for the Siena College men’s team.
Alto made an unofficial visit to the school’s campus last fall. He liked what he saw.
“I fell in love with it,” he said. “I prefer attending a smaller school. The dormitories and the field were beautiful. The athletic facility seemed very modern to me. I met the full coaching staff.”
Alto said he was recruited by Tim Cox, a Siena assistant coach, to play for the Saints.
“I became very close with him,” Alto said. “I love the coaching staff. They are very good people. It seems like the staff puts the players first. They are less Type A in terms of personality than you would expect from your typical coach. They make the team an actual family and are down to earth with all of the guys.”
Alto also took to Twitter to express his emotions.
“I’m extremely excited to announce my commitment to play Division I lacrosse at Siena College!,” he said. “A special thanks to my family, coaches and teammates for their help along the way! Go Saints.”
Alto was impressed by the athletics facilities.
“They have a new weight room and it has lots of stuff,” he said. “They have a lot of personal trainers. Athletes can receive treatment in ice baths and hot tubs. They have a high tech rehabilitation program for their teams. You go hard while practicing and playing. You get a lot of bumps and bruises. The equipment will help me.”
Alto, who committed in July and will sign his National Letter of Intent in October, can’t wait to step on the field for the Saints.
“For sure, I am looking forward to it,” he said. “I was always real eager to play in college. I have fulfilled my dream of having the chance to play college lacrosse and I can’t wait to experience it. I am really excited I got this done. This has been a dream of mine for a long time–ever since I began playing lacrosse in probably the first grade. I started to separate myself (from others) when I was in the sixth grade. I excelled, started working extra hard at it and developed an actual love of the game.”
Alto was recruited as a midfielder.
“I definitely have to improve my defense,” he said. “It has always been my weak spot. As a midfielder, you have to play both ways (offense and defense) and I have gotten way better at it.”
Ocean coach Kevin Preston said he enjoys working with Alto.
“Dale is the kind of player who coaches dream about having on their team,” Preston said. “He works harder than anyone else during the offseason and in his free time leads by example during the season. Dale finishes first in any runs we do and is always the first to go in every drill that is set up.”
Alto’s commitment did not escape his buddies in Ocean Boys Lacrosse.
“Congratulations Dale!,” the group said on its Twitter page. “Hard work and commitment to the game have separated you from the rest. Going to do big things at Siena.”
While competing for the Tri-State Lacrosse Club last fall, Alto broke his right wrist.
“I broke it on defense, making me gun shy about playing defense,” he said. “I was in a cast for two months and performed physical therapy for one to two months. I began the spring season as scheduled (the coronavirus pandemic wiped out the spring season for New Jersey teams in all sports).”
Alto is a strong shooter.
“The best part of my game is my shot,” he said. “I have the ability to create space to get my shot off. I like playing in general with a lot of space. At attack, it is a different game as you work in tight spaces whether you are off the ball or have the ball.”
Alto suffered the injury in a collision with a midfielder.
“He came at me and I was not as prepared as I should have been,” he said. “He lowered his shoulder. I extended my arms at the same time to cross check him and I broke the wrist in one place.”
Alto managed to land a berth in a high level program despite losing his junior season to the pandemic. He played extensively on the summer circuit prior to his junior year, resulting in exposure. He displayed his talents in New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware.
“I played in a bunch of tournaments and individual showcases,” he said. “Siena saw me at a tournament in July of last year when I was with Tri-State. I wanted to take the recruiting process slow due to the injury. I committed because I felt the time was right. I did not want to wait and I felt real confident in my decision. The recruiting process was definitely exciting, but very stressful. I enjoyed it overall. The best part of it was just sealing the deal.”
“Getting to play lacrosse at the Division I level is an extremely hard thing to achieve,” Preston said. “The amount of dedication and focus you need to have academically and athletically is what separates the Division I players from the rest and that is where Dale exceeds. I am not surprised, but extremely proud and excited for Dale as all of his hard work has paid off.
“Dale’s work ethic is what will carry him far at the college level. He doesn’t take days off and is always working on all aspects of his game.”
The 5-foot-10 Alto said he enjoys the independent nature of the game.
“I enjoy the freedom and versatility of lacrosse,” he said. “I have been doing trick shots since I was at a young age. Shooting trick shots made it fun–having the ability to learn cool shots and tricks. When I was in the third grade, my coaches told me not to get distracted with trick shots. You need versatility and different shots in your arsenal.”
When he was younger, some of Alto’s shots tore through the windows of neighbors Sandy and Larry Rubel, Each incident cost Alto $40-50 for repairs.
“I broke five windows,” he said. “Each time I broke a window, I cleaned up the glass by myself. Shots went off the crossbar in the goal. The ball would go in the wrong direction and I’d hear a big, breaking sound.”
Alto will major in finance.
“I hope if everything goes according to plan to find a job on Wall Street or somewhere along those lines,” he said.
Alto was named a team captain during his junior and senior seasons. Senior goalie Garrett Schwab and senior defender Logan Bianchi will also captain the Spartans next spring. Alto was a unanimous choice of his teammates.
“Dale was an easy choice to name captain going into his junior season as the other players look up to him as a leader on and off the field,” Preston said. “Even when his junior season was cancelled due to COVID-19, Dale continued leading the team through virtual team meetings and individualized workouts.”
Alto, who played on the varsity team as a freshman, scored 32 goals and handed out 14 assists for 46 points through his sophomore season.
“Dale has made himself into a dangerous player in all areas of the field,” Preston said. “He did not just focus on offense where he is a lethal shooter and is always a threat to score. He also built himself into a strong and effective defensive player who does not get beat one-on-one. He has the ability to clear the ball through a defense with ease.
“Dale has been one of our biggest threats on offense since his freshman year and is also a very strong defensive midfielder.”
The 170-pound Alto has received help in his beloved sport from several sources, including his dad, George, and mom, Carole; Preston and Ocean assistant coach Tom Ryan, and Ocean Youth Lacrosse.
“I have been in OYL since the first grade,” he said. “They got me to love the game at a young age. They sparked my interest. The coaches were great.”
“Dale and his father even built a wall in their backyard so that Dale can work on his stick skills in his free time,” Preston said. “All of this hard work is what takes Dale to the next level.”
“Thanks to the many great coaches, especially OTHS coach Preston and coach Ryan and Tri-State coaches Terranova and Tharp,” Carole Alto said on her Twitter page. “Grateful for the lax community support all these years (& my neighbor whose window Dale broke 5 times!). Go Saints.”
Preston has coached Alto for two varsity seasons. He also worked with Alto at the youth level.
“Even when he was in the fifth and sixth grade, he had the makings of being something great,” Preston said. “We coaches saw it back then and it is amazing to see the incredible player he turned out to be.”
Alto has also sparkled off the field where he is in the Ocean chapter of the Distributive Education Clubs of America, a part of the school’s Finance Club, and the Spanish Club. He qualified for the Deca States event as a junior. He’s on the Junior Board of the Mya Lin Terry Foundation, named for the Ocean resident who lost her five-year battle with cancer at the age of 10 in 2013.
Alto enjoys playing tennis with his mother and works in photo shopping, graphic design and video editing.
“Dale leads by example on and off the field,” Preston said. “Dale achieves the highest scores in his classes, spends the most time in the gym and will be the first guy on the field for practice each day. He motivates his teammates to work at his level and raises the team up through his efforts. Dale is the kind of player who you trust with the ball in the closing seconds of the game when you need that game-winning goal.”