Lacrosse: San Benito a program on the rise

Sophomore attacker Tyler Benedetti has been a goal-scoring machine for the Balers, who already have racked up more wins on the field this season than a year ago.

A year ago, the San Benito High lacrosse team couldn’t perform the basics of the sport for a sustained period of time. That was to be expected, given the fact the Haybalers were fielding a first-year program. But in a 8-6 non-league win over Leland on March 10, the Haybalers (1-1) showed just how far they have come.
On several possessions, San Benito passed the ball with precision, displaying an ability to maintain control.
“Last year the ball was on the ground a lot,” Balers coach Don Jones said. “We really had a hard time settling the ball. This year we can settle the ball on offense and pass it around at least one time (through a full rotation) without dropping it. Last year we couldn’t—it’s a big difference.”
Is it ever. By beating Leland, the Balers needed just two weeks to earn their first victory on the field. In 2015, San Benito needed two months before winning its first game (the Balers had a previous forfeit victory). After finishing the win over Leland, the players rushed over to sophomore goalie Kane DeAlba, who made several nice saves.
The excitement was clearly evident on the players’ faces, and they relished the moment. Tyler Benedetti scored a match-high five goals, Jason White had two and Cameron Last one. All three players are sophomores, a sign that San Benito is a program on the rise.
The Balers don’t have a single senior starter—unheard of in high school sports. They are a sophomore and junior-dominated squad, and Jones can’t wait to see how the core nucleus of players develops. Benedetti, Last and White all played during the off-season, as did a couple of other players. Benedetti and Last are attackers, and White is a midfielder.
“You had a lot of kids working on their own time in the off-season,” Jones said. “They’re getting a lot of touches and showing a lot of dedication. That’s how you get better.”
In the fourth period, Owen Branon delivered a couple of thunderous checks, laying Leland players flat on their back.
“Owen had a big hit that changed the momentum of the game,” Jones said.
Branon is a freshman starter playing the longstick midfielder position. Junior defender Cade Neece is in his first year playing the game, but he’s already made a supreme impact.
“Cade made some great clearing passes to get the ball from the defensive end to the offensive end,” Jones said.
Freshman attacker/midfielder Cameron Arnett has also been one of the several standout players on the team early in the season. Not only have the Balers grown physically, but they’ve grown in the all-important mental part of the game as well.
“You look at a player like Cameron (Last), and his game sense and IQ has grown quite a bit from last year,” Jones said. “We’ll need to keep our cool and play aggressive but smart. We can’t take penalties at bad times.”
Despite showing tremendous improvement from a year ago, Jones knows the team can’t rest on its laurels. The Balers are less experienced than most of their counterparts in league, meaning they’ll have to play that much smarter and disciplined to pull out some more victories.
“We need to be a bit more patient on offense,” Jones said. “I think if we would’ve been more patient (against Leland), the score would’ve been different. I don’t think the game would have been as tight. Maybe we were too excited.”

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