A year after winning six conference games and continuing its lengthy run in the Nassau Class A boys’ lacrosse playoffs, Baldwin is leaning heavily on its five senior captains to play almost every minute and in every situation as a large group of varsity newcomers gain experience.
Even goaltender Jared Tiong-Smith, a four-year starter, is contributing to the offense during man-up advantages.
“We have a core of kids with a lot of experience and talent,” coach Rich Garguilo said. “All five captains will be playing at the college level. They’re being asked to do everything under the sun and they also need to be patient with the younger guys.
“It’s going to be challenging,” he added. “We’re a work in progress.”
The Bruins’ general concept, which it achieved in early non-league matchups against Plainedge (7-4 loss on March 27) and Long Beach (5-3 loss last Friday), is to lean on Tiong-Smith and the defensive unit to keep them close in games.
“Jared’s a vocal leader who plays with a lot of emotion,” Garguilo said of Tiong-Smith, who scored a goal last season. “He’s very active and does a great job clearing and getting us moving in transition.”
With senior captains Jordan Arbuet and Malcolm Bell setting the tone, the defense is a few steps ahead of the offense at this early stage. Arbuet wields a long pole and also gets himself in position to contribute to the attack at times. “Jordan has incredible footwork, a good stick, a good motor and knows how to use his body,” Garguilo said. “He’s fun to watch.”
Bell is one of the top athletes in the school, the coach noted, and in the fall was not only the starting goalie for the soccer team but also played in the football team’s narrow playoff game defeat at Oceanside and stood out on defense. “Malcolm has great size and athleticism,” Garguilo said of the crease defender. “He’s relentless on the ball.”
Senior captain David Garcia spearheads the midfield and is being counted on to pick up some of the offensive production lost from last year’s graduating class. He’ll also handle faceoffs and spend some time on attack to get a breather when the Bruins aren’t in possession. Garcia scored twice and added an assist in a non-league loss to Seaford on March 29. “He’s pound for pound our toughest kid,” Garguilo said. “He has great speed and is a tough defender. We’re asking him to create more scoring opportunities for himself and shoot more.”
Senior captain Dylan Ferguson is no stranger to putting the ball in the net. He’s coming off an All-Conference campaign and can score from almost anywhere. “He’s a creative dodger, and when he’s on he has one of the most dangerous shots of any kid I’ve coached,” Garguilo said.
Junior attack Christian Vera is a returning starter on attack and scored in two of the first three games, while junior Casey Cummings also brings varsity experience to the fold and will fill a utility role.
Baldwin opens the eight-game conference schedule at Hicksville on April 17 at 4:30 p.m.