Taite Cattoni has always wanted to follow in his older brother Holden’s footsteps; In recent weeks, Taite has been stepping out from under Holden’s shadow.
When Taite was a young boy – these were the days before he began playing organized lacrosse – he remembers waiting outside of the local rink in DeWinton, Alberta, practicing with his mini stick while Holden was living out their dream inside for practices.
The siblings, who are four years apart, did have many chances to go head-to-head in their youth. A field lacrosse goal was set up in the backyard, and that’s where Holden would take shots at Taite, who was in the net. Taite recounted how it was common for conversations to get heated between them and that fists would fly occasionally.
It was all in good fun, though. This pair of brothers have always been very competitive. Yet, through it all, Taite and Holden have always looked out for each other and have always wanted the best for one another.
“With [Holden] being in the NLL before me, he really helped me out through some difficult times and helped me understand how hard it is to make the NLL,” Taite said. “He’s helped me understand what I needed to do to be an everyday NLLer – that’s what I’ve wanted to be all my life and to be like my big bro. He’s kind of the reason I wanted to be in the NLL. I want to be one of the best players in the league one day because I think he’s up there.”
Shannon and Guido Cattoni made sure their boys had the best opportunities to thrive in the lacrosse world. Whether it was taking trips to help get their kids get recruited or taking them to practices over the years, Taite and Holden’s parents helped pave the way for their successes.
Through his hard work and dedication to his craft, Taite did his best to make a name for himself at the prestigious Salisbury School, and one of the traditional collegiate lacrosse powerhouses, Johns Hopkins University – Holden also attended both of these institutions. Everything that Taite learned during his tenure at these schools has helped shape him into the player and man he is today.
“It’s easy to get up when the expectations are so high,” Taite said. “Playing at the highest levels just makes you want to play harder. I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to play at Salisbury School, where we are championship runners-up, then Johns Hopkins where the expectation was to win a national championship and then to be in Peterborough to win a Mann Cup every year – it’s awesome.”
His efforts got him drafted 33rd overall in the 2021 NLL Entry Draft. For what it’s worth, Holden was taken 5th overall in the 2016 NLL Entry Draft. Taite went on to have very short stints with Panther City Lacrosse Club and the Albany FireWolves within 18 months of being drafted. By January of this year, Taite was in Philadelphia with the Wings.
Taite feels he could’ve done more to prove himself at his previous destinations but emphasized that he learned a lot from his teammates and coaches, even in a short time. His parents taught him and Holden that if things weren’t working out in a particular situation, it was important not to sulk. Instead, it was essential to analyze what didn’t go right and figure out how they could be better in the future. Taite has taken that to heart during his time in Philadelphia.
We’ve seen Taite grow in this new system this season. His first few games came with their struggles, but over the last month and a half, he has really settled into his role.
“I think it’s just been about getting really comfortable,” Cattoni said. “When a guy gets traded, it can take a while, and I think with me, I’ve always just played and reacted, and I think it took me a while to do that with this team. Once I got comfortable and started knowing where other guys on the floor would be, it’s become really easy, and I’ve been way more successful.”
Taite has benefitted from Matt Rambo being out of the lineup on that left side. In the 6 games that Taite was in the lineup with Rambo, he scored 2 goals. In the last 5 games that Rambo has been missing from the lineup, he’s scored 8 goals. Taite has now scored in 6 straight games – the longest scoring streak of his NLL career.
He credits his offensive counterparts for his recent success, including a Wings win against Holden’s Knighthawks on March 19th. Playing alongside all-star caliber players such as Joe Resetarits, Mitch Jones, Ben McIntosh, and Blaze Riorden definitely can make one’s job to get your offensive rhythm going a lot easier. Taite used a recent Resetarits bounce-back performance as an example of the excellent character guys he’s sounded by.
“It’s their work ethic and how hard they are on themselves and how well they expect to do every time they go out there,” Cattoni said. “When Joey Res [Joe Resetarits] didn’t have his best game against Halifax, he was really down on himself. He’s a true competitor; he comes back, scores 4 goals, is the OT winner, and does Joe Resetarits things.”
Scoring goals consistently has boosted Taite’s confidence, but, as he knows, it takes a lot more than scoring to be a good lacrosse player in the NLL. More importantly, maintaining your spot on any NLL team takes more than scoring goals.
“I’m willing to do anything to win,” Cattoni said. “In the first few games, I wasn’t lighting up the scoresheet, but I think I was doing all the dirty things that matter in games (drawing penalties, getting under the other team’s skin, driving to the net, setting tough picks). It’s not just about the points, although those are great to have; it’s about doing the little things.”
The Wings’ offensive coordinator, Jeff McComb, has been instrumental in Taite’s improvements this season. The two have a great line of communication (much like Taite has had with all of his coaches), and Taite has learned so much about the nuances of his play under McComb.
Taite has recorded 10 goals, 9 assists, 35 loose ball recoveries, and even 1 caused turnover in 11 games this NLL season. Suppose he can continue to put up respectable numbers while helping his team to a couple of much-needed late-season wins. In that case, the Wings might sneak into the postseason – they’ll need some help from a couple of other teams in the East Conference, including Holden’s Knighthawks.
While he is not yet a star in the NLL, Taite’s stock is rising. His recent stretch of positive performances is making his name one to keep an eye on. He is not just Holden’s younger brother. He is Taite Cattoni, a talented box lacrosse player in his own right.
By Adam Levi