Five senior captains were the muscle of an otherwise inexperienced Baldwin squad that managed a playoff berth in Nassau Class A boys’ lacrosse this season.
Although the Bruins (3-5 in Conference A, 4-11 overall) fell 19-2 against No. 1 Massapequa in a first-round game May 21, the Bruins were navigated through an unsettling season thanks to the award-winning play of goaltender Jared Tiong-Smith, defensemen Jordan Arbouet and Malcolm Bell, and midfielders Dylan Ferguson and David Garcia, who will all play on the college stage next year.
Tiong-Smith typified their collective efforts in that the All-County selection often shed his goalie gear, picked up a short stick and played on the team’s man-up unit. When the Hartwick College-bound four-year starter stayed in the net this season, he racked up 142 saves.
“Jared is very athletic and does a lot for us,” said interim head coach Mike Hoover, who took the helm at midseason. “He’s kind of like a defensive coach in the cage.”
Arbouet, an All-Conference honoree who will play at Molloy College, and Bell, an All-County Honorable Mention headed to University of Hartford, were two shutdown defenders glued to their opponents’ top offensive players each game. Hoover calls Arbouet a quiet leader; Bell the best and fastest athlete on the team. Both players took virtually all faceoffs throughout the season.
Ferguson spearheaded the offense with a team-best 31 goals and will join Tiong-Smith at Hartwick. Garcia was accepted to Wingate University based on his is speed and explosiveness, as well as his ability to grab a long pole to assist the man-down unit and take faceoffs. Ferguson and Garcia won their second consecutive All-Conference honors this year.
“We had some tough times during the season, but those five were great in keeping everyone together and not getting frustrated, keeping their composure and playing as hard as they could,” Hoover said. “It was nice to see that because it doesn’t always go that way when things aren’t going good.”
Hoover cited a 12-5 win against bitter in-league rival Freeport on April 28 and a 12-4 loss to Farmingdale on May 7 as his team’s best games. At Freeport, the Bruins rolled from the start and jumped to an 11-0 halftime lead. Against the deeper, dominant Dalers, they managed to compete for at least a half, heading into the third period down only 4-2 before running out of gas in the final period.
The Bruins fielded just 11 players the entire season, and while their five seniors carried them, the otherwise inexperienced squad had a few promising teammates assist them to the postseason.
Returning attackman Christian Vera helped carry the ball and settle the offense, and midfielder Nate Holmes took on and excelled at bigger roles on each side of the field. Both juniors worked hard to improve during the season, while another middy, sophomore Ronnie Silano-Marchese, is exceptionally athletic and took a winning, run-through-a-brick-wall attitude to develop every game, Hoover said.
“We really couldn’t have gone as far without them being as good as they were,” he said of the trio.”