Thursday, April 25, 2013

Koelsch Spearheads Defense For Yorktown

By Zach Smart

It happens every game, like clockwork.

Yorktown defenseman Trevor Koelsch locates the opposing team’s top scorer and applies a suffocating brand of in-your-grill defense.

 The opposing team’s featured scorer--let's say the attack pegged by the evaluators as a beast who falls out of bed ready to rip--draws Koelsch’s attention.

And so from start to finish, Koeslch seems hell-bent on putting a go-to guy in a straightjacket.

A forceful physical specimen known for hard checks, Koelsch has evolved into a lockup artist. His commitment to draping a scorer's every move, instigating errant and off-balance shots has been alive since Day One.

Molded by former captains such as his older brother Derek Koelsch, Ty Schuldt, Tyler Fahey, Justin Mabus, Frankie Fusco, Koelsch's veteran savvy has allowed him to shoulder the load of vocal leader this season.

Hopkins-bound Koelsch's role is to orchestrate spurts of intensity from the defensive unit. He holds that position with pride and fervor.

Koelsch has yet to leave the same lasting legacy as highly-decorated teammates of the past (it remains to be seen if he will).

 What Koelsch has done, however, is write a book on how to contain versatile scoring threats.

Koelsch will apply enough maddening, consistent coverage to make the All-American look All-League at best.

Making a playmaker grapple for every ounce of shooting space possible, forcing him out of his comfort zone, and drawing a scorer to his weak hand are his requirements.

At Yorktown, Sectional championships are the surefire standard. Anything less is regarded as a down year, a source of off-season motivation. The bar is not set sky-high, it is lifted to moon-scraping levels.

Players train year round with two major games snow glowing around in their head: The Murphy Cup and The Section I championship.

“Trevor's taken a big role this year,” said Huskers senior Nick Mariano, another four-year varsity player under Dave Marr.

“He’s climbed the ranks and is a great leader. He knows when to get in someone’s face and when not to. He’s just an all-around great team leader."
During Yorktown’s signature 11-5 victory over CT power Darien, Koelsch clamped down on versatile scorer Peter Lindley.

Knowing Lindley’s penchant for relying on his right hand, Koelsch bodied him and forced him left throughout. He enforced a new level of pressure sustained through four quarters.

The result? Lindley was held scoreless with an assist.

During a  resounding 15-3 victory over upstart Bronxville, Koelsch was instrumental in reducing future teammate Henry Grass to a non-factor.

Henry Grass, who committed to Hopkins last summer, was held to one goal on three shot attempts. He entered the game having popped seven goals in the past two games.

Koelsch forced the explosive Grass inside, where he was forced to give up the rock.

“I just tried to make sure he didn’t get comfortable at a five and five spot where he (Grass) is good at passing and shooting,” Koeslch explained.

In Koelsch, the we-before-me ideology is evident.

“I pride myself on being a team player above all,” said Koelsch.

“I just make sure to play the angles really well, make sure everyone is playing cohesively and communicating. I’m not necessarily the fastest the guy on the field, but I like to play off the ball and make sure nobody is getting an open look.”

On Thursday, Yorktown renews its classic cross-town rivalry with Mahopac.

Koelsch is likely to match up with the Indians’ Ross Thompson, a crafty scorer recognized for his ability to carve through traffic and fire on the fly.

Yorktown is slated for a date with the nation’s elite in Chaminade on Saturday.

Koelsch, who said he loves playing against this team, will again savor the challenge of locking up on a blue chip recruit.

Koelsch will guard Virginia-signee Ryan Lukovic, widely regarded as one the country's top players.

“He marks the other team’s top scorer,” said Mariano. “Sometimes it’s just a natural matchup for him.”

Derek Koelsch, who authored a memorable career between-the-pipes at Yorktown, sparked his little brother’s lacrosse interest during their elementary school stages.

Derek now plays at Trinity College in Hartford, though he’s been hampered by a torn ACL. Derek anchored the Huskers defensive unit and shaped his younger brother’s defensive thinking, imploring Trevor to be physical and work at a furious pace.

Big bro knows best.

The mad worker mentality ingrained in Koelsch has spread through the locker room.

The aforementioned Fusco was quick to note this.

“His talent is directly linked to his non-stop hard work and dedication to get better,” said Fusco, who now plays at Drexel.

“That dedication is to help the team succeed and make those around him better as well.”

Yorktown-JHU Pipeline

 Johns Hopkins' historic and current success with Yorktown helped spur Koelsch's decision to sign with the Blue Jays.

 A busload of Yorktown graduates—Rob Doerr, Chris Watson, Brian Carcaterra, Dave and Scott Marr to name a few—stamped their imprint at the traditional NCAA power. Former Husker teammates John Ranagan and Kevin Interlicchio are currently plying their trade for the Blue Jays.

“Obviously it is John Hopkins and they are just a phenomenal program,” said Koelsch.

 “In addition to that, when you look at the history of guys going there from Yorktown and achieving, it just made it an easier decision. You step on the campus, and it feels kind of like Yorktown. The way practices are run, the way the games are, it’s similar. I felt right at home.”

Exactly when Yorktown emerged into the Hopkins pipeline is still open to question, but a spring chicken of Koeslch’s caliber can date it back to 2001.

Koelsch was a high-octane, smurf-sized six-year-old watching the Huskers from the jam-packed bleachers. He kept an eye on a big, aggressive defenseman in then-Yorktown senior Chris Watson.

Watson left his fingerprints all over the Blue Jays’ lacrosse history book. He blanketed and altered the shots of a highly explosive Duke offense, helping propel Hopkins to a 2005 national championship.

Derek and Trevor were both in attendance, encased in Hopkins lacrosse shirts. They serenaded the local product with a chorus of cheers after the game, visiting him for a brief conversation outside the locker room.

Watson’s family has always been tight with the Koelsch family. As a teenager, Watson looked after both of them.
 Watson noticed both Trevor and Derek's passion for the sport take root at a very early age. As a youth coach who contributed to the grass-roots lacrosse community, Watson was a mentor for both brothers.

“He (Watson) was pretty much my role model,” said Koelsch. “I patterned my game around his. He was someone who was very influential on my career. Of course my biggest influence was my brother, who was just always there for me.”

One sun-baked spring day, Watson told the Koelsch brothers he was eager to introduce them to someone.
Watson then drove them to the home of the late and legendary Charlie Murphy.

Murphy, the unquestioned Godfather of Yorktown lacrosse, was pleased to host the young guests. 

He entertained all three with hours and hours of lacrosse stories. He schooled Derek and Trevor on the Huskers’ tradition and pattern of excellence.

“He was a great guy,” said Trevor Koelsch.