Sophomore scores first goal post injury
When the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team scored its 12th goal in an eventual 13-5 victory against Manhattan, the celebration came as a bit of a surprise.
By then the Scarlet Knights had a clear handle on the game and most of the goals scored previously were acknowledged with simple high fives and head bumps.
But this goal was different. Not because the play was anything spectacular, but because of who scored it.
It was sophomore midfielder Zack Sikora’s first-ever goal in a Rutgers uniform, and he was going to celebrate.
“It was kind of a relief. It had been looming over me the past year that I hadn’t really contributed to the team,” Sikora said. “I missed the first half of last season with a back injury and when I came back I didn’t perform as well as I could and it was just really relieving to finally get that goal.”
As a freshman, Sikora saw time in eight games as a short stick midfielder but hardly made an impact on the stat sheet.
The Clifton, Va., native caused only one turnover on the defensive side against St. John’s and registered his lone assist on the season versus Notre Dame.
With a shortage in long pole players, head coach Brian Brecht switched Sikora to the position to test him out. Sikora had played his entire career as a short stick midfielder, so the switch had him skeptical at first.
The new roles that came with the position were difficult to deal with, but Sikora says he is now thriving in his new place on the team.
“I had to learn how to throw checks in the beginning. I didn’t know how to throw them in the beginning so I kind of just hacked people,” Sikora said. “But I got the checks down … and everything has been working out.”
The move has already paid dividends. In just one game against the Jaspers, Sikora has registered more points than he had all of last year with two.
With such a strong start to his sophomore season, Sikora could be in for a breakout year. He could also prove to be important to the Knights attack as well as defense.
Despite returning 97 percent of its offense from a year ago, Rutgers struggled to find a consistent goal scorer to complement senior attacker Scott Klimchak.
While the Knights do have strong goal scorers aside from Klimchak in senior midfielder Nick DePaolera and sophomore attacker Scott Bieda, Brecht has stressed that all the players will need to step up their production offensively.
Freshman midfielder Christian Trasolini looks poised to increase the team’s scoring total following his three goals against the Jaspers.
But Sikora could prove important in his new position if he continues to produce.
“I’ve been very pleased,” Brecht said of Sikora’s new role. “We wouldn’t have given him a pole if we didn’t need him to play. … Athletically, he’s one of the best athletes on the team. He’s got great size and handles the long pole just as well as he handles the short stick, so it’s not surprising he’s had success.”
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