Junior embraces position change to midfield

<p>Junior Christian Trasolini has 10 goals and four assists in his first season as a midfielder. In his first two seasons as an attacker, he scored 53 goals total.</p>

Junior Christian Trasolini has 10 goals and four assists in his first season as a midfielder. In his first two seasons as an attacker, he scored 53 goals total.

Having too many capable players at one position is a problem that any head coach would welcome with open arms. 

That predicament, in regards to the attack unit, faced head coach Brian Brecht as the No. 16 Rutgers men's lacrosse team was preparing to embark on its 2016 campaign.

Last season, the Scarlet Knights' attack was the strongest unit on its team, with its 10.33 goals per game average finishing third in the Big Ten and in the upper half of teams in the country in the regular season. 

All three of the Knights' starting attackers scored more than 20 goals, with then-junior Scott Bieda leading the way with 30, then-sophomore Christian Trasolini trailing right behind with 26 and then-freshman Jules Heningburg with 21. 

With each player having an added season of starting experience to build off of, the attack unit was poised to be a strong component for Rutgers this season as well.

That promising attack unit got even deeper with the in-house addition of freshman Adam Charalambides, who was coming off a redshirt season due to a surgically repaired knee. 

With only three starting spots available and four starting-caliber players vying for them, a decision had to be made as to who would be the odd-man out up front for the Knights. 

Bieda, Heningburg and Charalambides began the season on Rutgers' attack, but, rather than being on the bench, Christian Trasolini was on the field with the starting midfield unit. 

Instead of simply letting the four attackers compete for three spots and rotate the other in throughout games, Brecht utilized his depth on the attack to make the rest of the his team stronger. 

Adding a lethal goal scorer like Trasolini to the midfield has made an already blistering Knights attack even more dangerous this season, and while the numbers have expectedly gone down for the New Hyde Park, New York, native, the impact on the offensive end hasn't wavered. 

"I think he's adapted real well to it," Bieda said of Trasolini's move to midfield. "I think that he understands that he's gonna draw the pull, he's gonna draw the double team every time. ... People are nervous about him, people are scared about him when he's coming down the alley. So when he understands that when he plays in an offensive role and he plays as a team and he's drawing double slides, someone's gonna be open like Charalambides."

In lacrosse, moving from an attacker to the midfield changes the responsibilities of a player. For starters, rather than being confined to the attack area, midfielders are free to roam the entire field. 

Trasolini starts the game alongside two other midfielders and is subbed in and out of the game with other midfielders and the rope unit situationally, earning most of his time when Rutgers has the ball in its offensive zone.

But Trasolini said there haven't been any major adjustments in changing positions, stating that he just has to be a leader for the younger players. It also didn't hurt that he had some prior experience beforehand to help smooth the transition to the midfield. 

"I did have experience playing midfield in high school," Trasolini said. "Fun fact — my brother was actually a midfielder, always trained me as a midfielder from an attack standpoint. So I definitely had a background with it, so I wasn't really thrown into the waters without having any experience. I was up for a challenge and I think I've handled it well this year."

The biggest change for Trasolini has come on the stat sheet. 

Playing around the crease as an attacker in his first two seasons on the Banks, he scored 53 goals on 128 shots on net. Now as a midfielder, usually positioned towards the top of the attack area, he's scored 10 goals — which is tied for fourth most on the team — on just 28 shots on net in 13 games.

As Trasolini has stepped back to the midfield, the Knights attack hasn't skipped a beat from the season prior, catapulting to the No. 11 slot in scoring offense at 12.85 goals per game. But that high scoring clip hasn't just come from Rutgers' three-headed goal scoring monster up front, as the midfielders adding secondary scoring, led by Trasolini, has elevated the offense. 

"The balance between our attack and our midfielders, starting to get up the points, it's great," Trasolini said. "Our attack, one of the best in the country, we've produced over 90 points combined. It's unreal what (Charalambides) has done, what Jules Heningburg has done, what Scott Bieda has always been doing. It's a good balance that we have going on and I think it's gonna carry us far."

Charalambides and Heningburg will headline what should be another lethal attack unit next season, but the Knights will have big shoes to fill with the loss of Tewaaraton Award hopeful Scott Bieda. Chrisitan Trasolini certainly has the credentials to step into the vacant spot left by the departure of Bieda.

But if Rutgers carries its success into 2017, it doesn't matter to Trasolini where he is playing, nor how many goals he's scoring, as long as he's on the field contributing.

"I could score one to two goals the entire season, if we're winning every game, I don't really care as long as I'm helping out as best I can in the field," he said.

For updates on the Rutgers men's lacrosse team, follow @EricMullin_ and @TargumSports on Twitter.

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