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THE ‘DOG’ HAS A KNACK AROUND THE NET
04/15/2014 - 10:42am

By Andrea Chevalier -- Rochester Knighthawks forward Cory Vitarelli, otherwise known as “dog,” has rightfully begun making a name for himself not only for the Knighthawks but also in the National Lacrosse League that can be explained in one word—talent.

Being referred to as “dog” is nothing new for the 28-year-old. Add to that his robust way of flying across the crease and wrapping around from behind the net to put the ball in and the signature move and nickname “Air Dogger” was put into place. 

“I’ve always had the nickname ‘dog’ since I’ve been younger,” said Vitarelli. “I’ve just been fortunate enough to score a couple of goals jumping in the air so it just came together like that. It’s not too often that I score those goals but I don’t mind it.” 

Vitarelli, who landed a three-year extension with the Knighthawks in November, is playing his fourth season in Rochester. He was a member of the 2012 and 2013 championship teams and has proven to be a highlight-scoring player since his first season with team.

“The championships with Rochester would definitely be the highlight of my lacrosse career,” said Vitarelli. “I am lucky enough to have played for championship teams and those are things that can never be taken away.”

Last season, Vitarelli set a career-high 19 assists, came in second on the team in goals (25) just behind Cody Jamieson, and recorded 44 points, putting him at No. 3 on the team. In the 2013 championship, he chipped in two goals and one assist.

This season, Vitarelli has played in 12 games and has recorded 35 points (21+14), which includes three hat tricks. He is a player that the Knighthawks can count on to put the ball to the back of the net.
“Cory works for everyone else,” Head Coach Mike Hasen said. “He sets hard picks to get ‘Jammer’ and ‘J-Dub’ open and he slips through the middle and capitalizes on his opportunities when he’s there.”

His career with the Knighthawks has been a statement of knowing where he belongs on the field and taking advantage of that. Vitarelli has his two National Lacrosse League championship wins with the Knighthawks to his name, a No. 7 spot on SportsCenter’s top plays last season and a No. 34 ranking on ILIndoor’s top 50 list, all of which is quite impressive for the young player.

“He’s a hard worker off-ball,” said Hasen. ”He brings a lot to the front door.”

“He’s very lucky. He uses his head and body and knows how to get the ball in there,” said Knighthawks transition player Brad Self. “He’s got a knack for what he does on the field.”

Vitarelli plays for the Peterborough Lakers of Major Series Lacrosse over the summer with Knighthawks teammates Scott Self and Brad Self. With the Lakers, he has added three Mann Cups (2007, 2010, and 2012) and closed out the 2013 season fourth on the team in points (15). Playing lacrosse nearly year-round helps to keep Vitarelli’s shooting sharp and always prepared to battle it out on the turf.

“Having a stick in my hand and always playing helps me stay in shape,” Vitarelli said. “Obviously there are some differences between playing there and playing here, but some of it can translate over.”

Vitarelli and the Knighthawks have officially claimed a spot in the 2014 NLL playoffs but for him, that only means that the bar has been raised higher and this is the time to push himself even harder.  Finishing out the season strong and being fully prepared to take on the new playoff structure is the new goal for the team.

“It’s nice that we have the playoff spot, but we’re not satisfied,” said Vitarelli. “I’ll keep working at getting those loose balls, catching my teammates and, when I get chances, scoring goals. I’m really a simple guy.”


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