Ever since he learned how to play the sport at 5 years old, Dominic Corto’s goal has been to play college lacrosse.
Growing up with a father who played and coached lacrosse for the majority of his life certainly factored into that dream. Frank Corto, however, said he never wanted to be the type of parent who put pressure on his son to follow the same path in life that he took.
“I can’t say I wasn’t hard on him and I can’t say I didn’t force square pegs into round holes being dad and coach, but it wasn’t the ultimate end all be all and I’m going to be disappointed in him if he doesn’t play lacrosse,” said Frank Corto, the York Suburban High lacrosse head coach, as well as a former NCAA Division I player at Johns Hopkins.
A long journey: Dominic Corto got his wish recently when he announced his verbal commitment to the University of Tampa. The decision was the culmination of a three-year journey to find the school where the Suburban rising senior would spend his college years. It's a journey that featured a number of ups and downs along the way.
“After getting told no a few times and continuing to work anyway, finally getting what you’re after feels really good,” Dominic Corto said.
During Dominic Corto’s freshman season in 2016, the NCAA passed a rule that prevented college coaches and athletes from having contact until Sept. 1 of the student’s junior year. That change affected Dominic Corto, who was receiving interest from multiple NCAA Division I universities, including Ohio State, Notre Dame and Syracuse.
Once the recruiting period reopened for Dominic Corto, the previous interest from the big schools wasn’t there. Frank Corto said during the year-and-a-half break between communication, players and coaches at schools they talked to changed and that altered their plans.
Numbers never lie: Meanwhile, Dominic Corto continued to dominate on the field. Two games into his junior season, the 5-foot-9 attackman eclipsed the program record for most career points at 193, held by Collin Mailman, who currently plays at NCAA Division I Drexel University.
While Frank Corto’s focus was on traditionally elite universities with great reputations, such as Notre Dame and several Ivy League schools, his son continued to ask why Tampa wasn’t on the list.
They visited the campus while the father and son coached and played, respectively, in the Brogden Cup, where the pair represented the United States after winning the National Lacrosse Championship.
The three-game series was played on the Spartans’ campus in Tampa against Canada and Dominic Corto fell in love right away.
“It blew me away,” Dominic Corto said. “To this day, I’ve visited a lot of schools and I’ve never seen anything like it. It just has everything you’re looking for and some.”
Best of both worlds: Besides the weather in Florida, Dominic Corto was attracted to the university because of two things — the academics and athletics.
Tampa offered a program that would allow Dominic Corto to graduate with his Master of Business Administration in finance in five years, which was important to him.
On the field, the Spartans are among the elite NCAA Division II programs in the nation. They were ranked as high as No. 6 last season, have reached the Division II Final Four three times and have had players drafted into Major League Lacrosse.
“It’s always nice to have the opportunity to win, especially knowing there’s a chance to win the national championship every year,” Dominic Corto said. “It’s really motivating and makes me want to play even more.”
Adding to that excitement is the fact that Dominic Corto already knows two of his teammates at Tampa. York Catholic standouts Cole Witman and Drew Snelbaker will join the Spartans this season and Dominic Corto said the three players are excited to join forces after his senior season at Suburban.
“We’re all excited. We know we’re going to be good,” Dominic Corto said.
Central York graduate Ryan Fahs will also join the Tampa squad this season.
Done with recruiting: Making a decision on where he would play in college was the top priority for Dominic Corto this summer. With that out of the way, he said he'll be able to enjoy his senior year, which will be the first stress-free season of his career.
His goal for his final year at Suburban is to win games. He said that the team has a lot of potential and that the Trojans should do some damage this year.
With 160 goals and 152 assists in his first three seasons, Dominic Corto is on pace to become the first York-Adams player to eclipse 400 career points, according to Frank Corto, but he has bigger goals for his son’s final high school season.
“As a dad, I’m proud of everything he’s done,” Frank Corto said. “As a coach, he’s got some unfinished business. The goal this year is winning. I told him, Suburban has never put a banner on the wall and before you leave Suburban you should be putting a banner on the wall.”
Prove them wrong: Although he's excited to have landed at the school he said was the perfect fit for him, Dominic Corto wants to show the D-I programs that decided not to offer him a scholarship what they could’ve had. For a player with more than 300 points in his first three seasons, the added motivation will likely be a problem for opposing defenders in the future.
“My goal, now that I am going to Tampa, is to show all those other schools that they made the wrong decision,” Dominic Corto. “Having that chip on my shoulder has really helped me and it makes me play hard.”
Reach Rob Rose at email@example.com.