A starter since freshman year, senior lacrosse player and Princeton-bound Luca Lazzaretto once again will be a centerpiece of Loyola’s team this spring. The Lake Forest resident and graduate of Deer Path Middle School is a two-time American who has won a state title and taken second place twice with the Ramblers. Lazzaretto’s father, John Lazzaretto, played football for University of Georgia and University of Illinois. Luca is interested in studying either neuroscience or chemistry in college.

Maroon & Gold: How long did last year’s 9-6 loss to New Trier in the state final linger for you?

Luca Lazzaretto: A long time. It was tough. My three best friends were seniors Kyle Koch, Phil Ellerman and Luke Sheble. Graham Repp [Class of 2017] was a mentor of mine since I was in eighth grade. Ian Swenson [Class of 2017] was another guy I hated to see lose that game. It wasn’t so much because we lost, but that I was never going to play with them again. It wasn’t the way I wanted them to go out.

M&G: So that defeat is serving as motivation for you this season?

LL: Definitely. What’s unsaid is that nobody wants to look a senior in the eye after something like that. I want to make sure that everybody is working hard and doing everything they can to get ready for this season.

M&G: You went to the same middle school as [senior linebacker and wrestler] Peter Kennedy and [2017 graduate and Duke freshman tight end] Jake Marwede, who was one of Loyola’s all-time best football players. Did you ever play on the same team as Marwede?

LL: No. He was a year older and also on a team in a heavier weight class. But we were both quarterbacks, so we would throw a lot with each other during the summers. That was always fun.

M&G: How did you get your start in lacrosse?

LL: In the second grade, a buddy of mine who I played baseball with asked me to do a summer lacrosse camp with him. I did it, and I loved it. I’ve been playing ever since then.

M&G: You played football as a freshman and sophomore at Loyola. Why did you stop?

LL: [Senior quarterback] Quinn [Boyle] and I split time our freshman year, but I wasn’t sure I would play my sophomore year, so I took the summer off to go on recruiting trips for lacrosse. I showed up in August, and I was the backup to Quinn. He was on varsity, but he played a lot of the first halves of sophomore games. [Senior receiver] Andrew Forsyth and I would switch off and on as Quinn’s backup. Going into my junior year, they were going to move me to receiver. But I had dislocated my left [non-throwing] shoulder my freshman year and never had surgery, so it didn’t seem logical to play that position. I thought about coming back for my senior year, but I hurt my other shoulder during last lacrosse season. I thought there is no way this will end well for me if I decided to play football.

M&G: Was it difficult to give it up?

LL: Yes. My parents always joke that I could name all of the NFL teams before I could recite the alphabet. I grew up with football because of my dad. It’s tough to go to games and sit in the stands knowing I could be playing. At the same time, I know that lacrosse is what my future is all about.

M&G: You committed to University of Denver after your freshman year of high school and de-committed this past summer. What led you to that decision and ultimately to Princeton?

LL: I formed great relationships with Denver and its coaches, and this had nothing to do with them. It was purely an academic decision. I wanted to go to a better school and also play lacrosse. I wanted to seek out a higher caliber of academics.

M&G: What was your offseason like this summer?

LL: I played for a club team out of Missouri called Project Missouri. I played a couple of tournaments with them. I also gave private lessons to younger kids in Glenview and Lake Forest. I started that last summer. I probably did three to five a week. It ranged from kids in kindergarten all the way to rising freshmen. I’ve been around lacrosse enough that I know some tips and tricks to pass on. I love it.

M&G: Do you have interests outside of sports?

LL: I am in the guitar ensemble at Loyola. I was in it last year. We do four concerts a year, and we currently are working on our Christmas stuff right now. It’s classical music, and I play acoustic guitar.

M&G: I am from Georgia, went to University of Georgia and remain a big Bulldogs fan. I’ve enjoyed talking to your dad about the football team since meeting him earlier this year. How big of a deal are the Bulldogs at your house?

LL: Well, right now, I’m sitting in what we call the Georgia room. There are signs, a flag and my dad’s practice jersey on the wall. We are pretty big on the Bulldogs around here.

M&G: I’m 42 and haven’t experienced a season like this. They are 9-0 and No. 1 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings.

LL: It’s awesome. Watching those running backs is something else. They have special depth there. That freshman quarterback [Jake Fromm] has stepped up big, too. We will see what happens, but it’s been fun so far.