By Chris Chaney
Jiles and Caleb Munafo are lacrosse standouts without a team to call their own.
A rising senior and junior, respectively, at Goshen High School, the Munafo brothers grew up playing lacrosse for the Milford Lacrosse Club since middle school — one of the few club teams available to out-of-district players — but once the Eagles were adopted under the school’s athletic umbrella at the beginning of the 2013-14 season, the Munafos had to find a new team.
Anderson Lacrosse Club became their new home after eight seasons with Milford.
“(The transition) was difficult,” Jiles said of moving to the Anderson club.
“The thing is that Milford (has teams from) K2 all the way through high school,” Cori Munafo, Jiles and Caleb’s mother, explained. “Anderson is just high school.”
The loss of camaraderie and chemistry built up over years of playing together was tough for the Munafos to duplicate on their new squad given Anderson’s mix of talent, which came from various outposts.
“Anderson was a mesh as a club team,” Cori continued. “It wasn’t just Anderson kids; there were Anderson kids, there were McNicholas kids, there were kids from Madeira, some homeschooled kids, kids from St. Xavier who got cut (from the school team). It was just a mesh of kids (from all over).”
That mixture of talent changing each season doesn’t necessarily lend itself to a cohesive unit, but the Munafo’s and their teammates made the best out of the situation, reaching the state club semifinals.
Leading the charge up state were the two Munafos, along with a strong core built around them whom both Jiles and Caleb credit for their individual honors. Jiles was named to the First Team All-State and First Team All-South Region selection, while Caleb was picked to the All-South Region Second Team.
The brothers, just a year apart in age, are distinct in their playing styles, which makes them such a good compliment to one another.
“I’m a very physical player that can make difficult shots,” Jiles said. “I look for the shot first, whereas Caleb, when he gets the ball, he looks to pass. I know when Caleb gets the ball to make a cut and burn my defender because he’ll hit me with a pass so I can shoot it.”
“I know where everyone is at on the field; I’m not one to catch and shoot, like he said,” Caleb echoed. “I look around to see who’s open and that’s why I had so many assists.”
The brothers’ stats backed up their individual styles of play as Jiles racked up 56 goals and six assists, while Caleb scored 31 times and assisted on 23 others. Both brothers were among the top-50 in the state — encompassing Division I, Division II and club teams — in points per game.
Those lofty numbers were part of what helped both catch the eyes of the selection committee when they handed out the postseason awards.
“More or less, I relied on Caleb, Jordon (O’Neill of Anderson) and Kevin (McClanahan),” Jiles said. “I wouldn’t have gotten (named to First Team All-State) without them.”
“(Being named to the Second Team All-South Region) was an honor for me because I beat out all of my friends,” Caleb said. “I have a couple buddies on Milford who didn’t get awards, so that makes me feel better about myself.”
While the Munafos made an impact in their first year at Anderson, the fourth-place finish in the state will be their only lasting accomplishment as a member of the Orangemen Lacrosse Club. Anderson, too, will be adopted under their school’s athletic umbrella next season.
Once again, the Munafos were left without a team to call their own. Both boys will play football for their Goshen Warriors in the fall, but next spring they will begin another process of fitting in with a new squad, the Lebanon Lacrosse Club.
“We made the decision before Lebanon won state,” Caleb said. “We knew they were a good team and weren’t planning to go school (sanctioned) until after I graduate, so we won’t have to switch teams again.”
The Munafos have meshed with their new teammates seamlessly before and they expect to do so once again.
“We always are making new friends (in lacrosse),” Jiles said. “I made a bunch of new friends at Anderson this year and I’m looking forward to making new friends next year.”
While Caleb is hoping to find some stability at Lebanon over the next two seasons, Jiles is hoping he can make his fourth introduction to a new team the following season for a collegiate team.
“Right now, I’m looking at Saint Leo (University) in Tampa and also University of Tampa. Other than that, I’m looking at the (service) academies” Jiles said.
Jiles will be going to a prospect camp July 7-9 in Tampa where he will meet with the coaches at Saint Leo and UT.
Caleb, similarly, would like to play lacrosse in college, but has not given much thought as to where just yet.