When it comes to shooting, Tyler Benedetti goes by the adage of rip it and grip it.
That attitude has served Benedetti well. The San Benito High junior attacker scored a career-high six goals in a 9-8 win over Pacific Grove on March 13, including the game-winner with 2 seconds remaining.
“As soon as I got the pass, I just made a move and shot it as hard as I could,” he said. “I didn’t really aim because I knew where I was on the field. The goal wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Victor Perez. He made that play.”
The victory was huge on a couple of fronts. One, it was the first time San Benito managed to beat Pacific Grove in five tries, dating back to its inaugural 2015 season. Two, during one of those matches against Pacific Grove in Benedetti’s freshman year, he sustained a concussion after getting nailed by a Pacific Grove player after scoring a goal.
They say revenge is a dish best served cold, and Benedetti’s effort put the Pacific Grove match on ice.
“It means something more after what happened in my freshman season,” he said.
The all-time leading goal scorer in the program’s short three-year history, the 5-foot-7 140-pound Benedetti is one of the key cogs for a squad that is looking to make some serious noise this season. Now in its third year as a program, San Benito is confident it’ll be able to finish among the top four teams in the Mission Trail League, which would qualify it for the league playoffs.
“Knowing we can beat teams like Pacific Grove is a big confidence booster,” he said. “In previous years it was harder because we didn’t have many people that played club ball, and everyone was new to the sport. Pretty much everyone on the varsity team this year has some experience, and we have quite a few guys playing club. This year everyone can be trusted with the ball because everyone is better. We can all catch, throw and shoot. We’re capable of doing all aspects of the game.”
Benedetti scores most of his goals by getting to a certain spot on the field—usually 12 to 15 yards at a 45 degree angle from the goal—before ripping a shot as hard as he can. Teams have left him unmarked on occasion, a stunning development since he’s shown the capability to find the net with consistency.
“The majority of my goals are one timers from a spot on the left side,” he said. “I’ll take shots all day from there. My teammates always find me when I’m open, and they deserve a lot of credit whenever I score.”
Even though Benedetti is a prolific goal scorer, he acknowledged he’ll have to improve his skills in every phase of the game to play in college. This season Benedetti wants to be more active off the ball, have a pass first mentality and set picks to free up his teammates for advantageous scoring chances.
“Honestly, I don’t care if I get no goals or six goals,” he said. “As long as we’re winning a game, I‘ll pass all day long. One of my goals is to make that extra pass. Sometimes it’s not about taking that extra shot. I want to make that extra pass that will find the man who has a better chance to score.”
Considering that Benedetti is only in his third year of playing lacrosse, he’s caught on fast. Benedetti grew up playing baseball but chose lacrosse in his freshman year for a variety of reasons.
“I wasn’t necessarily getting tired of baseball, but the politics at the school is pretty bad so I told my dad I was done playing baseball,” he said. “So it was either track or lacrosse, and I went with lacrosse. Once I started playing the sport, it was hard to stop.”