Sombrotto and Pannell defy the experts
Jun 03, 2009Posted by james

I learned that the “experts” are not always right, and
sometimes you have to look beyond ordinary indicators to find the extraordinary.

Here’s the story:

Vinnie Sombrotto was instrumental in my nephew Rob Pannell’s matriculation at Cornell University.  It was truly fitting because Sombrotto, like Pannell, was under recruited and overlooked by college coaches when he played high school lacrosse in the mid 1970’s.

Although both Sombrotto and Pannell excelled at the highest levels as high school lacrosse players, most lacrosse “experts” considered them too small and not fast enough to compete with best at the Division 1 level. Boy were those “experts” wrong.

Sombrotto, after his Chaminade high school lacrosse career was concluded, went on to become one of the best college players and a Division 1 All-American. At Hofstra in 1980, Sombrotto scored 37 goals and totaled 54 points in 13 games AS A MIDFIELDER on the 1980 Hofstra team. He was equally accomplished as a defender and a ground ball machine.

Incredibly, Sombrotto raised the bar as a LI – Hofstra Club Player, U.S.A Player and professional lacrosse player. He is a member of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame and was named to Newsday’s All-Century team along with Jim Brown, NFL Great and former Syracuse All-American lacrosse player.

Pannell concluded his high school lacrosse career at Smithtown West. The “little general” managed to eke out a Long Island’s best 130 points and was selected to the Boy’s high school All-American team. He attended Deerfield Academy as a PG in 2008 and went to work immediately. He shattered the school’s 40 year old scoring record with 6 games left in the season.

But it was not until the great Sombrotto called Cornell’s Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach, Jeff Tambroni, that Pannell would get the chance to showcase his lacrosse skills at an elite lacrosse program. Sombrotto told Tambroni, “the kid plays a lot like me”. Tambroni replied, “I’ll take him”. The rest is history.

Sombrotto and Pannell with an assist from Metzger.

P.S. - By the way, all Pannell did in his freshman year at Cornell; First Team All-Ivy, Ivy League Rookie of  the Year, Ivy Scoring Leader, 3rd Team All-American, NCAA All-Tournament Team, leading scorer in the NCAA tournament, Cornell freshman scoring record with 67 points.

1 Comment

  • By Kevin "Hondo" Hahn, June 3, 2009 @ 12:31 pm

    Nice write- the experts have overlooked many great athletes.Thankfully you had your lacrosse connection and Rob wasn’t robbed of the D1 playoff experience.He played awesome against VA.!

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