At an academic and sports award dinner held at in Dix Hills last month, all-county lacrosse player Matt Garziano was the recipient of the inaugural James C. Metzger Outstanding Player Award.
Garziano, a midfielder from Melville who will attend SUNY Albany this fall, is a three-sport athlete who also competed in soccer and basketball and is a strong student.
Garziano played varsity lacrosse for three years. While his sophomore season was abbreviated due to a broken collarbone, as a junior and senior he ran first midfield. During his senior season, he was team captain and scored 39 points, including 16 assists that tied him for second highest on the team.
Considered by his coaches to be a “human clearing machine,” once he had the ball on a clear he often would run out of the defensive end or make the critical pass to the open player up field.
“Matt is the perfect recipient for this first award,” said Metzger, who personally presented the honor after he was introduced to the players and their families by Half Hollow Hills trustee Eric Geringswald. “He reminds me much of myself on the lacrosse field at that age. He set an example for his teammates as he worked hard in practice and was a workhorse during games."
The award is named for Metzger, a leading Hills East benefactor who also was an All-American student-athlete at the school during the 1970s. Metzger is CEO of The Whitmore Group, a leading insurance services and estate planning company in the New York metropolitan area that is headquartered in Garden City.
Metzger set assist records (82 in one season) and won many awards during his high school playing days, including All-American honors and the 1977 Ray Enners Award for outstanding Suffolk County lacrosse player when he scored 102 points. He also starred in football and played varsity basketball as a sophomore in the Suffolk County playoffs.
After graduation, he played lacrosse for two years at Hofstra University. As an All-American, he led Hofstra in assists during his freshman and sophomore seasons (1979 and 1980). His single season points per game average (4.9) ranks fourth all-time and his single season assist average (2.8) ranks eighth.
“The school’s coaches, especially lacrosse varsity head coach Gordon Hodgson, have been outstanding when communicating to players and parents about the benefits of playing high school athletics,” Metzger said, “and explaining to them that hard work and dedication is required to be successful on and off the field. I was proud to be a part of this night, to present the award to this fine young man, and I look forward to being associated with the excellent lacrosse coaching staff at Half Hollow Hills.”
Metzger told the players and their parents that his success in business, attributable to all he learned on the sports field, allowed him to establish scholarships and endowments at Hofstra University and Half Hollow Hills.
During the awards dinner, Hodgson spoke about the rich history of lacrosse at Half Hollow Hills and acknowledged the groundbreaking program and player development of legendary past coaches -- Bill Martens, Lou DiBlasi, Stan Kowalski and Doug Mayer.
During halftime of the alumni game this past season, all five of the school’s past and current lacrosse head coaches gathered on the field at the high school to for receiving the school's first Suffolk County Ray Enners Award more than 30 years ago.