Highlanders start fast; zip past three opponents
The Baldwin boys' varsity lacrosse team jumped out to a fast start this season, winning three straight games and outscoring the opposition by a commanding 29-11 overall margin.
The Highlanders zipped by North Hills, 12-7; Trinity, 8-0; and Norwin, 9-4; before suffering a 15-7 loss at Hampton.
Hampton was ranked No. 5 in the LaxPower rankings last week, behind Shady Side Academy, Sewickley Academy, Upper St. Clair and Quaker Valley.
“We play in a very competitive section with Canon-McMillan, up-and-coming Moon, and (defending) WPIAL champion Seton-La Salle,” said Shawn Leydig, Baldwin's head coach. “Our schedule is one of the most difficult in the WPIAL this season. We play six Division I teams (Trinity, Hampton, Butler, Fox Chapel, Pine-Richland, Bethel Park), while most teams play no more than two.”
Baldwin's returning starters are senior attackmen Bobby Ross and Wes Richards; senior goalkeeper Kevin Moore; and a pair of defensemen — senior Enzo Ruscitto and junior Joe Tulenko.
The Highlanders' were dealt a major loss during preseason practice when Tony Thornton, a returning senior midfielder and a three-year varsity letterman, suffered an ACL injury.
“We're going to need to play physical with Ruscitto, Tulenko and senior Dan Goga on defense,” Leydig said. “The attack combination of Bobby Ross, who is a sniper, and Wes Richards, who can score from anywhere, join (junior) newcomer Josh Murray.
“We expect solid contributions from senior Nick Boeggeman, and juniors Evan Snyder, Rocco Ruscitto, Andrew Hulsman and Mark Dugan from the midfield position to add to the (team's) scoring.”
Early season surprises for the Highlanders include the emergence of juniors Zosh Zinsmeister and Dustin Shore at the long-stick midfield position.
There are close to 40 players in the Baldwin boys' lacrosse program this season.
Other senior team members aiming to make individual contributions for the Highlanders are midfielders Anthony Donatelli and Matt Dieter; defensemen Robert Bates and Nick Dongilli; and attackman Shane Becker.
Sean McGlaughlin, Austin Hamilton and Dakota Becker are junior midfielders; while Miller Mekkelsen is a junior attackman.
Sophomore players in the varsity program include Alex Murray, Brian Nath, Jordan Allridge, Henry Jacobetz and Brandon Wozniak.
Top freshmen prospects this year include Randy Rusnak, Jack Tulenko, Artie Priore, Brandon Collins, Casey Conboy, Mario Donatelli, Jordan Perry, Konner Amorose, Shawn McDanel and Josh Cherep.
Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.