A balanced and talented squad tops Lincoln and OES to start the year

A team-oriented Lakeridge boys lacrosse team got off to a terrific start over the weekend, topping state power Lincoln in overtime.

The Pacers took on the Cardinals in the first annual Fritz Hayes Classic, named after a former beloved youth lacrosse official and advocate of the game who was killed in a home invasion last year.

The game was a rematch of last year's semifinal match-up which the Cardinals won to advance to the state title game.

Lakeridge trailed for virtually the entire game but rallied from a three-goal deficit in the final minutes. The Pacers still trailed by one in the closing moments of the game but Michael Ashworth scored on a pretty assist from defender Joel Schwarz to knot the score with six seconds remaining.

Midfielder Tyler Rich then won a face-off in double overtime and made a run down the field, capping it with a game-winning goal 11-10.

The win was a big early boost for the Pacers who were disappointed in the semifinals last year and who have a rugged early preseason schedule.

“It was an emotional first game and, even though it doesn't mean all that much in the standings, it meant a lot for our pride,” coach Curt Sheinin said.

Although Lakeridge graduated some top-tier talent last season, the team has reloaded and should be one of the elite squads in the state again.

The Pacers are well-balanced from back to front and are blessed with plenty of depth and individuals who can contribute.

“We don't have the superstars like we've had in the past but our teamwork is a strength and our practices have been lively,” Sheinin said.

Defensively, Jared Baumann takes over as Lakeridge's keeper. He will be protected by a strong contingent of defenders.

Schwarz, Randall Souers and Chase Marshall will lead the way while Tyler Moncrieff, Brandon Kuhnert and Peter Baumann will all see significant time as well.

“The defense could change throughout the year. We have six guys who are really talented,” Sheinin said.

In the midfield, Kevin Mertz and Cameron Strauss are the team's two long-stick midfielders and the Pacers' starting midfield line also consists of Rich, Lonzo Cristobal and Ryan Barman.

“We have a load of midfielders as well including a couple of freshmen who will just get better and better,” Sheinin said.

Up front, Lakeridge will feature a dangerous attack. Four different players will rotate in and see significant time. Along with Ashworth, JR McLaughlin, Chris Barman and John Finegan will all be called upon for their scoring and each of those players got on the board for the Pacers in their opening game.

Lakeridge will look to utilize its athleticism and will feature an up-tempo style of game again this year.

“We have some good speed and we'll look to use it,” Sheinin said.

Lakeridge bested OES on Tuesday 13-10 and will Sunset and Southridge before traveling to Washington where they will see some of the top teams in Canada, Washington and Nevada.

“If we survive the next two week's we'll be in good shape and I think we could be one of those teams that's in the mix,” Sheinin said.

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