Fallston attackman finds his niche as team playmaker

May 10, 1992|By Mike Jefferson | Mike Jefferson,Contributing writer

To his coach, Fallston attackman Ryan Wegeler is an "assist monster." To Wegeler's teammates, his high assist record is a "motivator." But when you ask Wegeler about his uncanny ability to feed open players to score, he says it's all just part of the game.

The 17-year-old senior finished the regular lacrosse season on Wednesday afternoon with a nine-assist performance in a 17-3 shellacking of Edgewood.

That improved his assist total for the season to 52 -- a statistic most players would be proud to hold over an entire high school career.

"I'm just out there to do what I have to do," Wegeler said after the game.

"Since I'm point behind, I look more to feed than to go to goal. I'm not a strong one-on-one person."

In a county matchup at North Harford earlier this season, Wegeler scored three goals, but added seven assists in the Cougars' 12-10 win.

John Grubb, the Hawks' 15-year coach, says, "I tell my players it's even better to get an assist than a goal because you created that opportunity, you created that other kid's goal."

On Wednesday, the Cougars jumped out to an 11-1 lead in the first half against the Rams. By that time, Wegeler had already racked up eight assists.

Six of them came in a row, to six different players -- Jason Haslbeck, Joe Poling, Brian Austin, Brad Baker, Pete Dixon and Fred Sheckells -- to close out the half.

"I've never really told Ryan that he's the assist man," said Fallston coach John Conley, a member of the Philadelphia Wings professional indoor lacrosse team.

"He has the best field sense that I've seen in a lacrosse player in a long time. He knows where a guy is going to be just because of the motion of the entire offense."

In a sport where most of the glory goes to the scorers, Fallston players are recognizing the importance of teamwork through Wegeler's play on the field.

"He's definitely the guy who starts most of our moves, and our goals come from that," said Baker, who starts with Wegeler on attack.

"Our team really tries to move and look, and Ryan is the one who does it. He's like our role model."

Wegeler plays the role of team motivator, too, said Baker.

"He's always got great things to say. He's always trying to get us up no matter what the score is," Baker said.

Wegeler has had many opportunities to go one-on-one against his defender or to take an open shot.

Instead, he scopes out cutters in front of the goal to pass to from behind the net.

"Before I make my move, I'm always looking," said Wegeler. "I always want to find somebody before I go."

He had a stretch of five games in which he had at least five assists.

He finished the regular season with 16 goals.

"To be honest with you, I thought his goals and assists would be more equal this year, like 20 and 20, or something like that," said Conley, Wegeler's coach. "He's just turned into an assist monster."

His play and that of the other hustling Cougars has earned them a top-seed in Class 1A/2A, Region IV. Regionals were scheduled to begin on Friday night.

Wegeler began playing lacrosse at age 6 in recreation leagues. After high school graduation, he plans to attend one of the local community colleges and continue playing lacrosse.

"I thought I played really good this year," said Wegeler, looking back on his season.

He cited the experience he gained last year as a starting junior with two seniors on attack. That gave him a confidence boost for this season.

Walking toward the locker room after Wednesday's game, Baker said, "I'm a junior, and he's a senior, and for me it's really great to have him there.

"He really knows how to play the game and how to work as a team, and it rubs off on me."

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