Rob Kruszeski is fearless when he steps onto the field to protect the goal.
So says Mattituck/Greenport/Southold boys lacrosse coach John Amato, whose admiration for Kruszeski’s courage under fire is just one of the traits he likes about his senior goalie.
“I always think it’s 50 percent mental, 50 percent physical, so a lot of it is in your head what you’re going to do on the field that day, so I think you have to be fearless to be a goalie,” Kruszeski said. “You got balls flying at you 80 to 90 miles an hour.”
Kruszeski, a third-year varsity player, stood up to the challenge well enough last year to be selected the Suffolk County Class C Goalie of the Year. He made 129 saves and registered a 7.01 goals-against average.
“That meant a lot to me,” he said of the award.
Kruszeski was quick to credit the work of teammates who play in front of him for the honor. “They put me in a great position to stop shots,” he said. “I owe almost all of it to them.”
Kruszeski said he wants to build on what he did last season, and he has drawn rave reviews for his play.
“Rob is outstanding,” freshman midfielder Dane Reda said. “He is ridiculous. I don’t think there’s much room for improvement.”
Amato likes what he is seeing from Kruszeski, too.
“He looks solid, real solid,” the coach said. “He’s a good leader, voted captain by his teammates, and he brings it every single day.”
Although Kruszeski surely seems to have the ability to play at the collegiate level, it’s uncertain whether he will. He hasn’t made his college choice yet, and said his top priority is academics.
“I really love lacrosse,” he said. “I’ve been playing since I was in second grade. I’d like to keep doing it at the college level. That said, I go to college for an education.”
* Finding a faceoff man
One of the big question marks Mattituck had to answer this year was who would replace graduated faceoff man Dylan Marlborough?
John Amato had said before the season that the team’s approach would be to handle faceoffs by committee, but it appears as if a preferred candidate has emerged, although somewhat reluctantly.
Dane Reda handled most of Mattituck’s faceoffs in an 11-7 defeat of Center Moriches last Wednesday at Mattituck High School. Reda won 11 of 16 faceoffs and collected six ground balls before leaving the game with 11 minutes, 31 seconds remaining. He said he was blindsided by a hit to the side of his head during a scramble for the ball.
The Tuckers have also used Colby Suglia and Matt Desimone for faceoffs. Reda, who first took up faceoffs as a fifth-grader, made an impression, though. Amato said, “He’s only a freshman, so he’s got a big learning curve and the game’s fast, but he played great today.”
What is Reda’s take on faceoff duty?
“I could take it or leave it for sure,” he said. “It’s got to be done. It’s just the scrappiest part of the game.”
“I’d rather just go play regular midfielder,” he added. “You got to step up. You got to fill the position and we need someone to do it.”
* A dynamic duo
It appears as if Ben Schmidt and Thomas Hoeg have a good working relationship. The senior attackers have a knack for finding each other and setting each other up for goals. That happened five times, for example, in last Wednesday’s game. Schmidt finished with five goals, two assists and two ground balls while Hoeg had three goals, three assists and five ground balls.
John Amato said, “They have been playing together since they were kids.”
Photo caption: Mattituck/Greenport/Southold goalie Rob Kruszeski is fearless, said coach John Amato. (Credit: Bob Liepa)