Ambrose stonewalls Wrecker opponents
Jack Ambrose is all about heart on the lacrosse field and it will serve him well for Yale University next year. A captain for the Staples boys lacrosse team before graduating in June, his spirited play led to his earning the Block S award, First Team All-FCIAC, First Team All-State and First Team American honors.
"It was awesome and I was so surprised," Ambrose said. "You go into the season thinking about the team goals and getting All-American is icing on the cake."
Sophomore and junior year, he was All-FCIAC Honorable Mention. He never expected these honors and receiving these honors was an amazing feeling for him.
Ambrose earned his accolades by anchoring the defense. He successfully kept many top forwards away from fellow captain and goalie Austin Waiter and Staples didn't allow many goals because he won many one-on-one battles on defense.
"It all starts with Austin Waiter," he said. "When you have a great goalie, you do well on defense and we had a lot of guys who worked hard. [Defensive] Coach Matt Johnson worked on our footwork with us and it helped a lot."
Whenever the ball was loose, Ambrose would usually be the first one running to it and ready to scoop it up. He led the Wreckers in ground balls and his tenacity enabled him to win these battles in the trenches.
"Getting the ground balls is all about hustle," he said. "It comes down to heart and practice. Our defense works on ground balls all season."
Despite being only 5-8, 155 pounds, he won many physical battles and proves that size, or the lack thereof is irrelevant. Being undeterred in facing guys over 6-0 and 200-pounds comes from his strong heart and `refuse to lose' mentality.
"Probably the greatest thing about lacrosse is that if you have heart and work hard, size doesn't matter," Ambrose said. "It [heart] comes from friends, teammates, coaches and mostly, my parents, because they are the hardest working people I know."
He intercepted many passes because of his quick hands and ability to read the passer.
"That has a lot to do with playing the game and seeing the motion of my opponents," Ambrose said. "My teammates playing great defense made it easy for me to pick off passes."
Possessing speed enabled him to get past his opponents. Many times, he cleared it by running it down the field and sometimes joined the team's offensive attack as well.
"Playing football helped a lot," Ambrose said. "G's [athletic trainer [Gaetana DiLeo] body blast training program and playing sports year round helped me stay in shape."
The ball was usually out of Staples' defensive zone and the Wreckers usually attacked because Ambrose and the other defenders were efficient in clearing it. This got the transition game and eventually generated offense.
"Being a former offensive player made me offensive-minded and helped with clears," he
Staples was 16-0 in the regular season, 18-2 overall and reached the Class L semifinals. Ambrose's play was a major factor in the team's success.
"Jack helped the team through his physical skills as a lacrosse player," Wreckers Coach Paul McNulty said.
Growing up, he was an attacker, but once he arrived to Staples freshman year, he switched to defense because he wanted to start and the Wreckers had more openings on defense back then. Adjusting to his new position wasn't a problem for him.
"I really wanted to play varsity all four years and it worked out," Ambrose said. "It was an easy transition going from offense to defense because in close games, it was tough watching the defense play. A [PAL] football coach [Lance Graber] said to me, `it's better being the hammer than the nail.'"
Despite playing defense, his offensive skills never eroded and when he attacked, he contributed with accurate shots and passes.
"It comes from off-season work and Coach McNulty made it easy to have stick skills," Ambrose said.
Life on the lacrosse field began for him in fifth grade because his friends started to play. One friend who influenced him away from the diamond and towards lacrosse was Gill Long, who later attended Fairfield Prep. Once he began playing lacrosse, he was happy with his decision.
Growing up, he played baseball from kindergarten through fourth grade and basketball from fourth through eighth grades. Ambrose stopped playing basketball in high school because he wanted to lift weights in the winter. His height was also a contributing factor. He began playing football in third grade and continued to play throughout high school.
Leadership is a strength of his as he served as captain his junior year as well as his senior year. He led by example through his work ethic and also led verbally by firing up his teammates.
"It was awesome because giving a speech before a game was something I liked to do," Ambrose said. "I was not prepared to be a captain junior year but the experience helped me be a better captain senior year."
McNulty said, "Jack's the type of guy who works well with the team in the locker room and at practice, he gets the guys around him to work hard. Those were big contributions to the team. His biggest contribution is during the game when he directs players and helps me with choosing the best style of defense we should play."
Academically, he was the boys lacrosse team's scholar-athlete at the Staples Scholar-Athlete banquet. He took five AP courses and math is his favorite subject.
"It was an awesome being chosen as a scholar-athlete and to be in the same category as Devin Graber [the football team's scholar-athlete]," Ambrose said. "I credit it all to my mom because she helped me space up my time with academics and athletics."
This fall, he'll be attending Yale and major in math and economics. He's undecided about his career goal but is going to play lacrosse for Yale. Ambrose knows he'll have to raise his play to the next level and has worked hard on this endeavor.
"I worked hard this summer to get bigger and stronger and hopefully, my hard work will get me to the next level," Ambrose said.
McNulty said, "Jack will do very well at Yale. He did very well against upperclassmen college players in the summer league and he has the will and qualities to do well."