Young Shaler boys lacrosse team making strides

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Thursday, May 2, 2019 | 4:22 PM


Zach Zajakowski is getting plenty of opportunities for the Shaler boys lacrosse team, and the freshman goaltender has been an anchor.

“It’s his first full year starting,” Shaler coach Bill Wightman said. “He played goalie one half of last year and defense one half. He’s real raw, and he’s our most improved player. He won us a couple games. He’s been a machine in the games we lost. That’s rough for a freshman at any position.”

Zajakowski recorded his first shutout in Shaler’s 15-0 section victory over Allderdice on April 23. Tom Carlson led Shaler with three goals, and Zane Kissel, Andrew Demshin and Steven Albright scored two apiece.

Wightman said the win provided his young Titans (3-10) with a boost.

“It gave them confidence,” Wightman said. “We had gone through a rough stretch of games. We had a few games where we were competitive and felt like we should have won, and we didn’t. It was something we needed.”

Shaler has gained plenty of experience. The Titans have several freshmen, including Jordan Clark and Mason DiBon, who have stepped in as defensive middies. Their challenge is keeping up with players who are bigger and faster.

“Really, the biggest thing is learning how to stay positionally with the bigger kids,” Wightman said. “In middle school, they are playing against kids their size or smaller than them. Now, they are matching up with kids who are 6-foot, while they are only 5-9, 5-10 or 5-11. They just need to learn how to properly position themselves against the big kids.”

Shaler has struggled to generate offense since the win over Allderdice. The Titans scored four goals in their next two games, a 7-3 loss to Butler and 19-1 defeat against Pine-Richland.

While the Titans aren’t postseason-bound this year, Wightman is happy with the experience the team gained.

“We have a good group coming up next year,” Wightman said. “Combining them with the freshman class from this year, and we’ll watch them develop. Next year, we want to take a step forward offensively. We’re in good hands for the next few years offensively. We’re losing a few defensemen this year and will need to develop a few guys.”

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